Internet Protocol Version 6: Federal Government in Early Stages of Transition and Key Challenges Remain

GAO-06-675 Published: Jun 30, 2006. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2006.
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The Internet protocol (IP) provides the addressing mechanism that defines how and where information such as text, voice, music, and video move across interconnected networks. IP version 4 (IPv4), which is widely used today, may not be able to accommodate the increasing number of global users and devices that are connecting to the Internet. As a result, Internet version 6 (IPv6) was developed to increase the amount of available address space. In August 2005, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum specifying activities and time frames for federal agencies to transition to IPv6. GAO was asked to determine (1) the status of federal agencies' efforts to transition to IPv6; (2) what emerging applications are being planned or implemented that take advantage of IPv6 features; and (3) key challenges industry and government agencies face as they transition to the new protocol.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To strengthen agencies' IPv6 transition planning efforts, the Director of OMB should direct federal agencies to work through the CIO Council Architecture and Infrastructure Committee and the IPv6 Working Group to address challenges agencies face such as interfacing with external partners during the transition period as they proceed with the transition.
Closed – Implemented
In May 2009, the Federal Chief Information Officers' Council's Federal IPv6 Working Group issued a document entitled "Planning Guide/Roadmap Toward IPv6 Adoption within the US Government." This planning guide contains specific guidance for adopting the IPv6 protocol. Among other things, it discusses key challenges agencies face in transitioning to IPv6 that we identified in our report including developing a business case for IPv6 and security. OMB's Chief Architect was a key contributor to the guide.

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