Treasury pitches its e-mail to feds

The General Services Administration and the Treasury Department signed an agreement last month that will permit Treasury to offer messaging services for a fee to other agencies through its Treasury Communications System (TCS).

Under the pilot program expected to begin in June and to be run jointly by GSA and Treasury agencies will be able to buy electronic messaging services including some that are currently not available on other governmentwide messaging contracts such as FTS 2000 and the Defense Department's Defense Message System.

The pilot is attractive to many agencies because of the low cost of participation agencies need only to provide the hardware and software that connects to the service provider. Costs for the services after the pilot have not yet been determined.

Warren Suss president of Warren H. Suss Associates a Jenkintown Pa.-based telecommunications firm said the agreement is significant because it is an early entrant into the market and DMS has been delayed. "Users can get their hands on newer electronic messaging [services] sooner. With more technology available prices will be driven down " he said. "It's also in the spirit of Post-FTS 2000. It gives agencies more choices with multiple competing vendors [keeping] prices down for services."

Under the GSA-Treasury agreement GSA's E-Mail Program Management Office which establishes the governmentwide electronic messaging requirements for civilian agencies will be responsible for overall governmentwide e-mail strategy and directory services. GSA will provide program management maintain the root-level Directory System Agent and provide directory information and registration.

Treasury will provide X.400 electronic messaging X.500 directory services an electronic commerce clearinghouse that provides translation services and help desk services to the rest of the government. Treasury will act as a private Administrative Management Domain (ADMD) essentially a service provider that processes and passes X.400 messages from the sender to the receiver as an alternative to existing ADMD systems.

Treasury wants to provide the services because "we need the services ourselves " said Michele Rubenstein director of Treasury Electronic Messaging Programs. "We have a good contractor and our own private network that is the largest private network in the civilian government. If we can do it for ourselves then we can do it for others." TRW Inc. won the $425 million TCS contract in 1995.

Rubenstein said Treasury will offer "reliable business-quality messaging at a lower cost per message than [agencies] are currently paying" on FTS 2000.

"Some of the services the government needs are not offered on the current FTS 2000 contract. We offer X.400 at 1988 and 1992 standards and X.500 conversion. That's what's needed for business-quality electronic messaging " she added.

Jack Finley director of the E-Mail PMO said the Treasury proposal "will complement our architecture." He added that he is revising the two-year plan that will update the electronic messaging architecture for the government to incorporate new technology.

The pilot is being funded by $1 million in start-up money from GSA's Innovation Fund Subgroup of the Interagency Management Council.

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