Why FTS 2000 failed in D.C.

Many unpleasant memories were brought back to me by your April 28 article "D.C. prodded to use FTS 2000."

I was one of the staff in Mayor Kelly's government responsible for the city's telecommunications procurement that you mentioned. I was also one of many employees who left her administration because of her indifference to the city's growing technology problems.

I thought I might provide a perspective on why innovation failed in past D.C. governments.

First an analysis by staff in the Division of Administrative Services (DAS) was done prior to the preparation of the Telecommunications RFP. This study showed that there were no cost advantages to using FTS 2000.

As I remember - and I have tried to forget this miserable period in the history of our fair city - the study was done around 1990 and the main reason for rejecting FTS 2000 was that almost all D.C. traffic is local while federal agencies are long-distance orientated.

There were other reasons at the time. This study should be available from DAS on request. It should be mentioned that the authors of this study as well as all telecommunications staff in DAS have left because of Mayor Kelly her city administrator and her last director of DAS.

The Telecommunications RFP was prepared over a period of eight years due to shortage of technical city staff time and a lack of understanding by Kelly and Barry.

Even though savings of $10 million a year were projected Kelly the city administrator and her last director of administrative services never understood nor supported the need or benefits of improving the city's technology.

Your article said the procurement failed "after most vendors chose not to bid out of fear the contract was too risky." That was part of the problem. There was enough interest to produce a contract that would have saved considerable money and produced a significantly better communications infrastructure. However the mayor and her senior managers killed the project.

As to why the project was killed by the mayor one would have to look to Kelly's general mismanagement and at her and her senior managers' politicization of every issue and every contract. DAS has lost all its competent telecommunications staff and it is now incapable of conceiving or managing such a project. As long as the city loses its best staff and politics continue to rule over the needs of the city the same will happen. Until the mayor and the Control Board focus on the growing technology problems of the city such waste will continue.

Paul D. SteelFormer AdministratorInformation Resources Management AdministrationDepartment of Administrative Services 12/92-8/94

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