Defense Communications: Millions May be Spent Unnecessarily to Expand Data Network
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND TECHNOLOGY DIV
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The Department of Defenses current approach to providing long distance data communications-using a single network design to meet heterogeneous user requirements-may not be cost effective. Moreover, the impact that FTS2000 will have on this approach is currently unknown. As a result, Defense plans to spend millions of dollars to build on this current approach need to be reassessed. This approach is based on the assumption that economies of scale can be achieved if all Defense systems are mandated to use a single network. However, this assumption is not based on a current analysis showing that this is the most cost effective way to proceed in todays communications environment, and in fact some evidence exists to the contrary. For example, DCA data shows that less costly alternatives exist for some Defense users. Further, expensive modifications will be needed to achieve compatibility between DDN and some users systems. Finally, the advent of FTS 2000 will probably cut into DDNS current and future user base. While we recognize that mandating a single network may have been appropriate 8 years ago when few communication alternatives were available, today more options are available to meet the individual needs of Defense users-options which may be more cost effective.