and house.gov

John Schnizlein schnizlein at isoc.org
Thu Oct 2 17:49:48 UTC 2008

Is this really technical discussion of operation of networks?

I connected the internal network of the US House of Representatives to  
the Internet when I worked there, and operated it through both  
Democratic and Republican control.   I never saw any snooping by  
either party of the network traffic, and I had sniffers for diagnosing  
problems in several communication closets.  I do recall unfounded  
accusations both ways, but it would be sad for the rumors to outlive  
the reality.  The notorious case of intercepted cell-phone  
conversations had nothing to do with the data network.

Not only is the data center, but so are all the committee and member  
offices that want it connected.

Skilled professionals operate the House's network.  There has been a  
collegial relationship among the operators of both the Senate and  
House networks, as well as the rest of the Legislative branch.  There  
are good reasons, including Constitutional separation of powers, that  
the Legislative Branch is not managed by the Executive Branch.  The  
independence of the two houses of Congress is more a matter of  
tradition, and the fact that a different party sometimes controls the  
other house.

Bandwidth has ALWAYS been an issue because Internet access is acquired  
through normal business processes, and the appetite for bandwidth both  
to Congressional staff, and (occasionally - when something important  
happens) to the public.  Since the source of money for these  
operations is Federal taxes, many readers of this list might  
appreciate that we have not bought more than we could justify.

I will not say anything about how large or redundant the data center  
is for obvious reasons, beyond that I am no longer employed there and  
do not have the details.

I really think this thread has outlived its entertainment value.


On 2008Oct2, at 12:39 PM, Mick Bergman wrote:

> Are you saying that the house.gov site is not in a large data center
> with direct fiber connectivity along with many of the other large
> federal web sites (with alternative hot sites ready to go at a  
> moment's
> notice, of course)? As someone who has been to different government  
> data
> centers, I can tell you they have huge amounts of data connectivity
> there in case of emergency.
> For a large site like house.gov, bandwidth should never be an issue.  
> In
> this case I highly doubt it was the issue, but instead overloading of
> the hardware in place.
> Just my $.02...

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