GSA's FTS stalls DISA's NIPRNET

In what appears to be a turf war within the General Services Administration, the agency's Federal Telecommunications Service (FTS) has delayed plans by the Defense Information Systems Agency to move a portion of its nonclassified data network to Sprint via a contract awarded by GSA's Federal Systems Integration and Management (Fedsim) center.

FTS officials said they met this month with Fedsim representatives to protest plans to allow DISA to use the Fedsim contract without first determining whether the requirements could be met through FTS 2000.

FTS commissioner Bob Woods said Fedsim agreed that agencies' telecommunications requirements ought to be handled by FTS and would not allow the contract to proceed until after FTS officials met with representatives from DISA and Sprint.

"Fedsim is not going to do anything without our concurrence," Woods said. "This agency is not going to start competing with itself."

Sandy Bates, assistant commissioner for service delivery at FTS, said she believes DISA officials were unaware that the Sonet-based Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) services they requested from Fedsim contractor Pulsar Data Systems were available on FTS 2000. Sprint added that service in May.

Bates said she planned to meet late last week with DISA and Sprint personnel to discuss putting the traffic on FTS 2000. She added that DISA personnel "seemed very amenable" to potentially using FTS 2000.

'Hopeful This Will Work Out'

"It will be an exchange of information on both sides," she said of the meeting. "On the macro level, we have their requirements covered. But with a complex service like ATM, you have to look at the details. I'm quite hopeful this will work out."

The solution offered by Sprint on the Pulsar contract would have offered speeds of up to 622 megabit/sec for DOD's Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network, the Pentagon's graphics-heavy intranet. The backbone of the network and 10 major nodes would have been moved from AT&T's Defense Commercial Telecommunications Network to Sprint's ATM network in October.

Bates said FTS would grant DISA a waiver to use the Fedsim contract if participants at the meeting agreed that FTS 2000 would not meet the agency's needs. She said she expected to make a final determination this week.

Diana Gowen, director of DOD sales and marketing at MCI Government Markets, said through a spokeswoman that her company would not protest DISA's move if the traffic were moved onto FTS 2000. She previously had vowed to protest the award to Pulsar because she believed the traffic belonged on MCI's Navy-Air Force contract for DODwide ATM service.

A Sprint spokesman refused to discuss the issue.

Woods said agencies are attracted to other GSA components because they often charge a lower overhead rate than FTS, but he added that those agencies often fail to consider services, such as billing, that FTS 2000 users receive automatically.

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