DHS seeks bids to build secret network

The Homeland Security Department is soliciting vendors on the General Services Administration's Millennia contract to build and run the Homeland Secure Data Network, a secret network for communication across DHS.

The department issued an HSDN proposal request late last year but then withdrew it so officials could complete their review of the program and align the network initiative with other DHS systems projects.

This month, after settling on a plan for the network, the department issued the solicitation to vendors on the governmentwide Millennia acquisition contract, said Lee Holcomb, Homeland Security's chief technology officer.

Millennia contractors Computer Sciences Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., are likely bidders for the HSDN contract. Proposals are due to the department within weeks, Holcomb said.

Meanwhile, in the sensitive but unclassified arena, Holcomb said, department officials want to link the Joint Regional Information Exchange System with the Law Enforcement Online-Regional Information Sharing System-Antiterrorist Information Exchange network operated with Justice Department funding.

"We believe there are viable ways for those programs to work together technically," Holcomb said. "We are encouraging them to work together to close the interoperability gap, and we have had positive responses from both sides."

For unclassified networking, the department is building DHSInfo. So far, it has begun the DHSInfo networks to serve users in Seattle and in the state of Indiana, Holcomb said.

The pair of networks is based on a regional FBI information-sharing system, the Dallas Emergency Response Network, that links managers of critical infrastructure components and public-safety organizations in Texas.

DHS plans to launch a third DHSInfo network in Atlanta in about two months, Holcomb said.

The department also is continuing negotiations to consolidate its software contracts through enterprise licenses, Holcomb said. The department already has forged agreements with Autonomy PLC of Cambridge, England, Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.

"We have a list of a dozen or so companies that we are working with right now to finalize licenses," he said.

Wilson P. Dizard III writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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