By David Perera
June 29, 2005
The federal government will transition to IP Version 6 (IPv6) by June
2008, said Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget's
administrator of e-government and information technology.
"Once the network backbones are ready, the applications and other
elements will follow," she said today while testifying before the
House Government Reform Committee.
Worldwide, IPv6 is already replacing IPv4 as the Internet address
protocol of choice. Under IPv4, networked devices are assigned a
32-bit address. That limits the number of addresses to 4.3 billion.
Once an unthinkably large number, it's not enough in a world where
cell phones can connect to the Internet. Some organizations already
resort to assigning a single address to an entire internal network and
using a translator for individual devices.
IPv6, however operates on a 128-bit address standard, which provides
OMB officials will issue guidance shortly for the transition to IPv6,
Evans said. That memo will include a requirement that agencies become
familiar with some of the pitfalls associated with the new standard.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team, part of
the Homeland Security Department, issued a warning to agencies about
the new protocol. Some firewalls and network intrusion-detection
systems do not monitor IPv6 traffic, possibly allowing hackers into
agency systems. Further, because IPv6 compatible devices automatically
assign their own IP addresses, devices could be configured without
Only the Defense Department has significantly prepared for IPv6, a
Government Accountability Office report finds. In contrast, of the
other 23 major agencies that are covered by the Chief Financial
Officers Act of 1990, 21 lack transition plans, 19 have not
inventoried IPv6 software and equipment, and 22 agencies lack business
cases and have not developed cost estimates, the report states.
The OMB memo will require agencies to assign a specific individual to
coordinate transition planning. Agencies will have to develop and
inventory existing IPv6-ready devices and conduct a transition impact
The CIO Council will release more detailed guidance before the end of
2005, Evans added.
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