- By Margret Johnston
- Sep 27, 1999
When the mandatory-use provision in the FTS 2000 contract for long-distancetelephone service expires this week, Tim Long, vice president of strategiccommunications at Litton/ PRC Inc. and a former MCI executive, will findclosure on an issue he battled for years.
Long spent more than a decade as a lawyer and free-market evangelistat MCI trying to purge the mandatory-use requirement from the General ServicesAdministration's FTS 2000 contract, awarded in 1988 to AT&T and Sprint.
Mandatoryuse meant MCI had to scramble for telecommunications business from agenciesthat received waivers to do business outside the FTS 2000 contract. Long'scrusade involved protests and intense lobbying against what he called the"ultimate fallacy" of the policy.
"We didn't fight mandatory use saying mandatory use is bad because itkept [MCI] out of the market," Long said. "It was not sound from a publicpolicy standpoint. It prevented the government from taking advantage ofall other market competition and in that way stunted the government's abilityto take advantage of rapidly advancing technology."
Long said the fight against mandatory use confirmed something he alreadyknew: Politics has the power to override the substance of an issue.
"Halfway through the battle, everyone agreed with us that this is notthe way to run a railroad," Long said. "Planned economies were disappearingall over the globe...yet the U.S. government was holding on to [mandatoryuse] with a vengeance."
He said he also learned the importance of building coalitions and thattenacity and maintaining a consistent argument leads to success. Long isnot exactly crowing as the sun sets on mandatory use, but he is proud thatFTS 2001, the successor to FTS 2000, contains of lot of what he advocatedbeginning in 1989.
The battle against FTS 2000's restrictions largely defined Long's careerat MCI, but he also was involved with many other aspects of the business.He began as counsel to MCI Government Systems, a position that evolved intolegal counseling, contracts management and policy development and analysis.
He also covered press relations, industry affairs and government relations,advertising, trade show management, internal communications and World WideWeb development. Then in 1995, Long began working on building a grass-rootspolitical program and revitalizing MCI's political action committee to assistin the struggle for fair and balanced telecommunications reform.
Long joined Litton/PRC in December. He said he was drawn to the companybecause of its diverse talents in handling complex government technologyprojects for such agencies as the National Weather Service, the JusticeDepartment and the Internal Revenue Service.
His new crusade is to unify the company's message and achieve a highdegree of "buy-in" across the company, relying on every employee as anoutlet for the company's message. Long said that one of his most importantduties at Litton/PRC is providing a structure and environment that enablescompany employees to do their jobs effectively and still be creative andinnovative.
Long is active in many organizations that provide forums for governmentand industry to discuss issues. He has been involved with the Industry AdvisoryCouncil since its inception and this year is co-chairman of workshops forIAC's 1999 Executive Leadership Conference next week.