DOJ scraps large-scale JCON rollout

The Justice Department scrapped a mammoth office automation program that was part of a $500 million contract with GTE Government Systems Corp. and awarded two blanket purchase agreements that the agency will now use to fill much of its office automation needs.

DOJ originally awarded the Justice Consolidated Office Network (JCON) contract to GTE in March 1996 to provide a common hardware and software environment for office automation departmentwide based on a mix of Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows solutions.

But after encountering numerous technical difficulties installing the original JCON solution, DOJ decided to cancel the program. Under its existing contract, GTE will continue to maintain the products already deployed, but DOJ recently awarded BPAs to Digital Equipment Corp. and Wang Global to support offices JCON did not reach and to roll out a new Microsoft-based solution, called JCON II.

Problems with JCON included difficulties integrating e-mail and file and print servers under a Unix platform, said Mark Boster, DOJ deputy chief information officer. So in August 1997, DOJ leaders suspended JCON. "We stopped the project. We went back to the drawing board," Boster said. "Everything was not as reliable as we had needed."

DOJ originally had envisioned rolling out JCON to some 30,000 users. Boster could not say how many seats have been installed, but GTE installed equipment in several places including the Civil Rights Division, the Civil Division, the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the Justice Management Division.

The BPAs for JCON II will cover other components of DOJ. Wang Global will support the pre-JCON systems installed in the U.S. Attorneys offices, with the potential to install JCON II solutions. Digital will deliver JCON II to the Justice Management Division, senior DOJ management and other litigating divisions, Boster said. "These are the initial, primary focus. But we certainly have every intention to utilize those [BPAs] where appropriate."

The renewable BPAs are for one year and have ceilings of $35 million each, industry sources said. But James Hogan, president of Wang Global Government Services Inc., said his company's BPA could be much higher than that, with estimates as high as $100 million.

DOJ is expected to begin piloting its new JCON II suite of products around May 1. Justice officials expect to roll out JCON II fully in mid-June or July.

Digital already has received a task order under the JCON II program to design an 1,800-seat network based on Microsoft Exchange messaging software for top DOJ management offices. The company expects a follow-on task order in the near future for the hardware and integration. "It is going to be a very substantial piece of business," a Digital executive said.

"I don't think that those BPAs are going to have any impact on the services GTE is now providing for Justice [under JCON]," said GTE spokesman Rob Doolittle.

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