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USGv6 Test Program

Background

In OMB Memorandum 05-22 NIST is tasked to develop a set of technical requirements for IPv6 for use in the Federal Government. In response, NIST published the USGv6 Profile. This document suggests that product testing services are likely needed to ensure the confidence and to protect the investment of early IPv6 adopters. After surveying the existing testing programs it concludes that a distinct USG testing program is needed, but with the commitment to harmonization and convergence into a broad collaborative user/vendor testing initiative, in which the technical and profiling requirements of the USG can be accommodated.

Among the existing IPv6 testing schemes both the IPv6 Ready Logo and the DoD test programs provide for conformance testing and interoperability testing of IPv6 hosts and routers. As of March 2009 the stand-alone DoD testing program for IPv6 devices has ceased operation. The IPv6 Ready Logo uses abstract test specifications, subjected to member review, and interoperability testing allowing for a flexible range of network architectures. Their technical requirements are defined operationally using abstract test specifications for a range of capabilities, categorized as Core, Applications, etc. functions. While the Logo's RFC coverage is smaller than that of the USG profile, test coverage requirements within each RFC are greater. NIST has signed memoranda of understanding with members of the IPv6 Ready Logo program to secure use, modification and re-publication of their test specifications. Tests required by the USGv6 program but not yet available will be provisioned as the testing program goes forward.

In order to enable an open and flexible testing market while maintaining user confidence and mutual recognition of test results, the program requires that test results to be traceable to laboratories that are accredited for specific test methods in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The accreditation landscape has itself changed in recent years. Where it was once possible to designate a single, usually government-run accreditor, there is now competition from private accreditors who compete on a level playing field. The laboratory accreditation organizations qualifications include compliance with ISO/IEC 17011 Conformity assessment -- General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies, and being signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). In order to promote comparability of test results across the accredited testing laboratories, NIST encourages qualified accreditors to collaborate in the development of IPV6 testing specific accreditation requirements.  NIST SP 500-273 is intended to provide guidance to any and all accreditors and test laboratories on units of accreditation, standard reference tests, test method validation criteria, and, crucially, feedback mechanisms to maintain quality improvement in test suites, in addition to maintaining consistency of test interpretations.

Network protection device testing requires a separate infrastructure. It involves functional testing, local interface, environment, and document inspection.

Claims of compliance with USGv6 requirements shall be documented using a Supplier's Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) which details the USGv6 capabilities supported and the results of testing each capability by an accredited laboratory. In this scheme, the product is conformance and interoperability tested in accredited laboratories, and based on a review of the test results and the requirements of this document the supplier issues an SDOC recording what the product is, its specifications, equivalent machines, and the USGv6 requirements supported. A standardized format for the supplier's declaration will promote the acceptance of this approach to testing and conformity assessment of IPV6 equipment.

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