Networx vendors vie for OneNet spots

First major award will come by April 2008

The Homeland Security Department has issued the first large-scale task order under the $48 billion Networx Universal indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.

Through the General Services Administration's telecommunications vehicle, DHS wants two of the three Networx vendors ? Verizon Business Services, Qwest Government Services and AT&T ? to establish its OneNet intranet for sensitive but unclassified information. DHS said it will designate one winning vendor as a primary service provider and one as a secondary provider, but only one vendor will perform services in support of incident response and the network operations and security centers.

Customs and Border Protection is leading the OneNet effort, which will combine multiple wide-area networks (WANs) into a common IP network based on Multiprotocol Label Switching. Sprint and Verizon provide infrastructure support under the FTS 2001 contract.

Proposals are due Oct. 5. DHS expects to award the task order by April 2008 and have OneNet's initial operating capability in place by late 2008.

"The key service that each Networx service provider shall provide is an Internet Protocol WAN, including DHS premise 'nodes' establishing connectivity among designated DHS sites," the task order states.

Scott Charbo, DHS' chief information officer, has said the agency was waiting for GSA to award the Networx contract so it could finish consolidating six agencywide WANs. The goal is for all employees to connect to a single network, he added.

The task order asks vendors to develop a single network and infrastructure to enable DHS' component agencies to share data with any employee authorized to receive the information.

Vendors must "make up the foundational core of the DHS network" by providing the necessary infrastructure, including network operations and security centers, WANs, and connectivity for remote users, the task order states.

DHS said initial operating capability would include network nodes at nationwide sites, dedicated and metropolitan-area network access to connect to the agencywide WAN, and controlled gateways for authorized data exchange with other networks, including the Internet and the Defense Department's Non-Classified IP Router Network.

In the future, the task order states, DHS wants OneNet to include voice over IP, video and collaborative conferencing functions, multicasting applications for training, and video surveillance, especially for the Secure Border Initiative.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

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