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New Panel to Address Federal Open Systems Compatibility

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has named an interagency panel to review open systems network requirements and recommend policies on the use of networking standards by the federal government. The Panel on Federal Internetworking Requirements will consider issues related to the Internet Protocol Suite and Open Systems Interconnection specifications, two widely used, yet incompatible, protocol suites, as well as proprietary networking protocols.

Members of the panel are Diane Fountaine, chair, Department of Defense; Jason Canon, Department of Treasury; Michael Corrigan, General Services Administration; Walter Houser, Department of Veterans Affairs; William Hughes, Department of Commerce; Richard desJardins, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Thomas Rowlett, Department of Energy; Stephen Wolff, National Science Foundation; and Milo Medin, NASA.

The federal government has been involved in the development of both the IPS and OSI specifications for computer communications, which provide many similar capabilities for interconnecting computers; local-area, wide-area and other networks; and for routing information between computers. The IPS is maintained by the Internet Society (with participation from federal organizations) and implemented on the Internet. Many government agencies have dramatically increased their use of the Internet over the past few years and have made large investments in systems that implement the IPS.

The OSI protocols are developed through the international voluntary standards process and are specified in the Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile, a Federal Information Processing Standard. As with many OSI profiles developed by other government and U.S. industry groups, GOSIP is based on the OSI standards. Although there are fewer commercially available products for OSI than for IPS, the federal agencies have made commitments to implement GOSIP in their computer communications.

The panel, organized at the request of the Office of Management and Budget in cooperation with the Federal Networking Council and the Federal Information Resources Management Policy Council, will review the government's requirements for network features such as security, ease of use, national and international connectivity, and standards maintenance. Interoperability requirements, agency costs and the role of protocols not in OSI or IPS specifications also will be considered. The panel is expected to seek public and agency input. It will recommend policies and alternatives that will best meet the government's near- and long-term needs for networking, and lead to interoperability between the different protocol suites.

The panel will submit its recommendations to James H. Burrows, director of NIST's Computer Systems Laboratory. NIST recommends and maintains Federal Information Processing Standards used by the federal government for its computer and related telecommunications systems. The panel's report will be made available to the public before any actions to implement new policies are proposed.

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released October 7, 1993, Updated November 27, 2017