Agencies behind on IPv6 likely to attract OMB’s attention, says task force chief

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building, home of the Office of Management and Budget. (Getty Images)


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Agencies that fall behind moving their networked information systems to Internet Protocol Version 6 will be more closely monitored by the likes of the Office of Management and Budget, according to the chair of the Federal IPv6 Task Force.

Speaking on a FedInsider webinar Thursday, Robert Sears said agencies should document systems they know they can’t transition by OMB‘s deadlines and make contingency plans.

IPv6 is the most recent version of Internet Protocol. It is designed to supply IP addressing and additional security that can supported the predicted growth of connected devices through the internet-of-things.

OMB mandated in a November 2020 memo that agencies develop implementation plans by the end of fiscal 2021 with milestones for 20% of IP-enabled network assets operating in IPv6-only environments by the end of fiscal 2023, 50% by the end of fiscal 2024 and 80% by the end of fiscal 2025.

“You may not make the 80%,” Sears said. “But over the next ‘X’ years this will be refreshed because that’s part of our modernization; that could substantiate not making the numbers.”

Most modern operating systems support a dual IPv4, IPv6 stack until agencies can transition to a v6-only interface, he added.

“Just turn it on,” Sears said. “See what happens.”

Desktops and laptops are the place to start, he said.

Other than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s N-Wave network service provider, which Sears directs, he said the Department of Energy’s Energy Science Network, Department of Defense’s Defense Research Engineering Network, Treasury Department, and Department of Veterans Affairs are transitioning well. VA hospitals, in particular, have a lot of Internet of Things-driven infrastructure, but the department is meeting the challenge.

Part of the Federal Chief Information Officers Council, the Federal IPv6 Task Force provides guidance, resources and training to agencies completing their transitions and holds an interagency meeting every five to six weeks. Sears’ task force also works with industry to assist agencies’ transitions, reviews agency transition plans and assists with reporting to OMB.

“Eighty percent of your network IPv6 only in the next three years essentially?” said Tom Coffeen, chief strategy officer at HexaBuild. “That’s quite a challenge for most agencies.”

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Federal IPv6 Task Force, IPv6, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Robert Sears