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Agencies to Address IPv6 in New IT Contracts

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Transitioning to next-generation Internet will now be more firmly entrenched in the federal IT acquisition process, according to a new rule published in the Federal Register last month.

The new rule, proposed by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA, adds certain provisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, including a measure that requires agency to address the adoption of the latest version of Internet Protocol, IPv6, in new contracts.

The rule aims to reduce the costs and complexity of switching to IPv6.

The Office of Management and Budget got the ball rolling on IPv6 with the issuing of a memo establishing the goal for all federal agency network backbones to support IPv6 on public-facing servers by 2012.

IPv6 offers virtually unconstrained “address abundance,” in contrast to the soon-to-be-exhausted cache of IP addresses offered by IPv4, as well as improved security features.

There continues to be some uncertainty. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has had to take the lead on determining whether IT acquisitions are IPv6-compliant or fully IPv6-capable, a FierceGovernmentIT report explains.

Also, just last month, Peter Tseronis, chair of the Federal CIO Council’s IPv6 task force, said many agencies were falling behind in next-generation Internet adoption.

Tseronis said deadlines about the transition have been publicized and are already well known, but he said about some agencies, “I don’t really think they get it yet.”

Tseronis and the task force have been meeting with agencies since November to smooth out the kinks in the transition. The final round of meetings is expected to finish up later this month.

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