GTE's JCON given a new life

GTE Government Systems Corp. has won a fourth year of business on a key Justice Department contract for office automation, despite a major change in program strategy.

The department originally awarded the contract in March 1996 under its Justice Consolidated Office Network program, only to scrap the program in late 1997 and begin work on JCON II.

While the original JCON program sought to provide core DOJ offices with a bundle of office automation software and hardware operating on a Unix-based platform, JCON II moves the department toward a solution based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and other Microsoft products.

Still, the original JCON contract survives, and GTE continues to pull business off the contract, supporting offices that already had been given the original JCON solution and installing the newer JCON II solution in other DOJ offices.

The JCON II program is designed to provide DOJ workers with a common set of hardware and software, increasing the ease with which workers can access and share information. GTE is focused on meeting that requirement, the company said.

"[DOJ officials'] intent is to push this solution to all the divisions so that they have a common architecture and so that they can reduce their support costs," said Doug Cheek, the JCON program manager for GTE.

GTE's work on the contract complements two JCON II blanket purchase agreements awarded in early 1998 to Wang Global and Digital Equipment Corp. for products and support services. Industry sources estimated the value of the agreements at $35 million a year for each company.

GTE now supports about 5,000 users through its JCON contract. Although the company installed and supports the original Unix-based JCON solution in some offices, the focus has now shifted to the Windows NT-based JCON II. "We are not implementing any more JCON I solutions," said Craig Scates, GTE's team leader for public safety and law enforcement.

GTE has given about 2,600 users at DOJ under the original JCON solution, and about 2,400 users have received the JCON II solution from the company. DOJ began designing JCON II in late 1997.

Scates declined to estimate the amount of revenue that the JCON contract might bring in for the next year of the contract, but he said he expects the coming year to be "the largest one to date" in terms of JCON revenue.

The contract originally had a spending ceiling close to $500 million over seven years. But in practice, the contract has generated only about $50 million, according to GTE officials.

Scates downplayed the notion that the original Unix-based JCON program was unsuccessful. "We went with the best of what was available at the time and have upgraded it ever since," he said.

Edward Cincinnati, executive officer for the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees—a JCON II user—said the new JCON II program helps him easily access departmental information. He also said his office performs better with JCON II than with the original JCON. "[JCON II], I believe, is working out a little bit better," he said.

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