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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

About FDA

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SMG 3220.1





Transmittal Number 91-14 -- Date: 01/01/1991

[PDF Version]

 1. Purpose
 2. Definitions
 3. Policy
 4. Responsibilities
 5. Procedures


This guide prescribes the policies and procedures governing the acquisition and utilization of FDA's Ethernet Local Area Network (LAN).


A. Ethernet. A coaxial, cable-based, bus oriented, packet-switched system that provides a 10 million bit-per-second band-width for data transmission .

B. Local Area Network (LAN). A privately owned, common cabling system supporting multiple types of equipment and applications. This cabling system can be installed in a building, or on an industrial or university campus, or in several buildings in the same city.

C. Communications Protocol. The rules governing the exchange of information between devices on a data link or network. Some examples of protocols are:

1. XNS - Xerox Network System a proprietary Ethernet protocol developed by Xerox and heavily used by FDA for terminal Ethernet transmission.

2. TCP/IP - Transport Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol. Accepted as the standard protocol within Department of Defense.

3. DECNET/Ethernet - Proprietary protocol developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

4. GOSIP - Government version of the Open Systems Interconnection Profile. It is the policy of FDA that all agency data networks migrate to this National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) protocol.

5. LAT - Local Area Transport. Proprietary Ethernet protocol developed by Digital Equipment Corporation for local transmission.

D. Communication Server. An intelligent local area network interface that supports asynchronous and synchronous devices in a multi-vendor network. The unit connects terminals, personal computers, modems, printers and host ports to the network.

E. Internetwork Bridge. An Internetwork Bridge can be used either locally or on remote networks. Locally the protocol independent device can be used to connect segments of Ethernet cable together to form a network Remote bridges are used to interconnect geographically remote Ethernets over point-to-point private line data circuits to form an extended local area network.

F. DECNET Area Routing Node. A specified area number for assignment of DECNET addresses is assigned to each FDA Center and Headquarter organization operating DEC VAX mini-computers. Each area has one computer maintaining a data base of all addresses for routing purposes.


The Food and Drug Administration will use Ethernet as a Local Area Network for data transmission. By using a standard transmission medium greater technological advantage can be achieved at the most economical cost.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has mandated that all data networks conform to the Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile (GOSIP) standards. It is the policy of FDA that local area networks must conform to the GOSIP standard by October 1, 1992. All networking equipment purchased after August 15, 1990, should be upgradable to the GOSIP standard by a software change. Equipment purchased after August 15, 1990, that cannot be software upgradable to the GOSIP standard should include a buy out agreement with the vendor for exchange to GOSIP compliant equipment before October 1, 1992. It will be the sole responsibility of the Center/Office to fund the replacement costs for all equipment purchased after August 15, 1990, that does not meet the GOSIP standard.

It is the policy of FDA that outside access to the Ethernet Local Area Network should be denied except for authorized users. Effective April 1,1991, all modems connected to the network through communications server ports configured for outside access must be password protected. All modems that are not currently password protected must be removed and replaced with password protected modems by April 1, 1991.

Information stored on main-frame processors are protected by registered account numbers and passwords. Information on personal computer (PC) networks and individual PC's should also be protected. There are software protection packages commercially available for this purpose. Guidance on this matter can be received from the Division of Information Management, Information Resources Branch, HFA-56.


A. Division of Information Management.

The Division of Information Management (DIM), Office of Information Resources Management has overall responsibility for:

1. Managing and coordinating the FDA Ethernet system.

2. Establishing system standards.

3. Acquiring, installing, and managing private line data circuits and associated equipment used in FDA's network.

4. Purchasing, installing, and managing the coaxial Ethernet cable in the Parklawn Building used as the back-bone of the network.

5. Purchasing and coordinating installation with major organizational components, internetwork bridges and routers in the Parklawn Building and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area network.

6. Providing central maintenance for all existing 3COM Corporation equipment on the network. This includes warranty service for communications servers and on-site maintenance for internetwork bridges and other major components.

7. Developing and coordinating system upgrades. These upgrades will include software and hardware improvements to the Ethernet system.

8. Developing and managing an Agency directory.

9. Providing the clearinghouse function for the DECNET node naming scheme and conflict resolution for XNS, TCP/IP, Novell and Apple talk.

10. Providing coordination between FDA Centers for resolving DECNET and Ethernet problems.

11. Ensuring each Center has only one DECNET area routing node and one backup routing node to permit redundancy.

12. Develop requirements for the implementation of the GOSIP standard to allow the equipment from different manufacturers to function in a multi-vendor environment.

DECNET area assignments are as follows:

OrganizationArea Number
Office of Regulatory Affairs1.0
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research2.0
Center for Devices and Radiological Health3.0
National Center for Toxicological Research4.0
Office of the Commissioner (Including Center for Veterinary Medicine)5.0
Parklawn Computer Center6.0
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research7.0
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition8.0

B. Major Organizational Components.

The Office of the Commissioner, Office of Regulatory Affairs, and the various Centers in FDA, through their Information Resources Management (IRM) Official, are responsible for:

1. Purchasing, installing, and managing communication servers, network controllers, etc.

2. Developing, purchasing, and installing the cable scheme between the terminals and the communications server.

3. Providing terminal and Ethernet access training to Center/Office users.

4. Resolving maintenance problems involving terminals or cabling to the communications server.

5. Managing communications servers within the organization utilizing network control equipment whenever possible for downloading software; storing clearinghouse names; storing macros; initial troubleshooting of local network problems.

6. Providing the Division of Information Management with quarterly directory changes.

7. Providing the Division of Information Management with all changes to the DECNET naming scheme.

8. Coordinating and standardizing all DECNET parameters on VAX mini-computers to established settings recommended by Digital Equipment Corporation.

The Office of Regulatory Affairs is responsible for the acquisition, installation and management of all cable plant in field locations.

C. Parklawn Computer Center.

The Parklawn Computer Center (PCC) is the central hub linking FDA's separate Ethernets. Operational personnel familiar with the DECNET/Ethernet operation and on-line network monitoring equipment will be responsible for:

1. Monitoring system integrity and making sure all segments of the network are up and running. PCC will troubleshoot using monitoring equipment and advise DIM, Telecommunications Management Branch of the problem. DIM will be responsible for rebooting internetwork bridges, arranging maintenance, etc.

2. Monitoring the wide-area network assuring all internetwork bridges are in operation. Advise Center and field personnel if problems are discovered.

3. Investigating unusual occurrences on the network using monitoring equipment.

4. Advising DIM of equipment requirements needed to support the PCC "hub" function including additional internetwork bridges, interface boards, cables, transceivers, etc.

5. Providing operational support and advice to Agency personnel integrating new equipment onto the network.

6. Coordinating all network activities that relate to local and remote interconnects with DIM, Telecommunications Management Branch.


A. Design and Acquisition.

The Division of Information Management, Telecommunications Management Branch (HFA-57) must review and approve the design and acquisition of all proposed LAN installations to insure the integrity of the system. This includes FDA activities in the Parklawn Building as well as those in outlying locations (i.e., CFSAN, CDRH, CVM, CDER, CBER, and District Offices).

B. Installation.

The following installation rules must be followed:

1. Parklawn Building. All coaxial cables, communications server cables, transceiver taps, transceiver cables, barrel connectors, terminators etc., must be installed by a professional cable installer. All cable installations or attachments to the Ethernet system shall be performed by a professional cable installer designated by the building owner's management representative. All IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standards must be adhered to.

Price estimates for cable or other Ethernet installations in the Parklawn Building may be obtained from the Division of Management Services, Space Management Branch (HFA-242)

2. FDA Locations in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

All new installation of Ethernet cable in the Washington metropolitan area must be coordinated with the Division of Management Services, Space Management Branch (HFA-242).

FDA is housed in several types of buildings (i.e., government owned, government leased, and agency owned). Installation may have to be done by the General Services Administration in the case of government owned buildings, or by private contractor in the case of government leased or agency owned buildings. The Space Management Branch will provide guidance on how to proceed with each installation.

3. Office of Regulatory Affairs Field Locations. All new installations of LAN's in these field locations are subject to review and approval by the Office of Regulatory Affairs, Division of Regulatory Information Systems (HFC-30), and the Division of Information Management, Telecommunications Management Branch (HFA-57).

4. Headquarters Field Activities. All new installations of LAN's in these field locations will be made in accordance with local policy. The local policy will be reviewed and approved by the Division of Information Management, Telecommunications Management Branch (HFA-57).