Federal IPv6 Task Force preparing transition plan guidance

Step one focuses on forming an agency's transition team.
An attendee wears sunglasses promoting IPv6 at the opening of the Internet Governance Forum on November 26, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

The Federal IPv6 Task Force will offer agencies tips on developing IPv6 transition plans in guidance set for release within the next month, said Chair Robert Sears, during a virtual conference Thursday.

Step one focuses on forming an agency’s transition team with roles and responsibilities for executives all the way down to help desk administrator team leads.

The Office of Management and Budget mandated in a November 2020 memo that agencies develop implementation plans by the end of fiscal 2021 for transitioning all networked federal information systems, and the Internet Protocol-enabled assets associated with them, to Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). The Federal Chief Information Officers Council established the Federal IPv6 Task Force to assist agencies in implementing OMB’s IPv6 policies, as is the case with its forthcoming document.

“I think there is a lot of good content in there, again, for guidance,” Sears said, during the Digital Government Institute event. “It’s not a mandate.”


The guidance was inspired by Sears’ work in his primary role as director of N-Wave, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s enterprise network program. NOAA has thousands of network device from Hawaii to the mainland U.S. and more than 100 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) systems that must move to IPv6, and Sears wanted to provide an approach that could be undertaken at the agency or FISMA system level.

Department of Energy partners contributed a spreadsheet that helps agencies categorize services, network devices and systems as IPv6 only or IPv4 to provide a snapshot of their progress.

Agency implementation plans must include milestones for having at least 20% of IP-enabled assets on federal networks 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. They must also provide a replacement or retirement schedule for information systems that can’t be transitioned.

Lastly the task force’s guidance will lay out how agencies can conduct a cost analysis, if necessary, and develop an operations strategy including security considerations.

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