DOT, MCI team to speed FTS 2001 transition

The Transportation Department and MCI WorldCom last week agreed on a series of steps that would cut the agency's transition time to FTS 2001 in half.

The deal was signed Nov. 10 by George Molaski, DOT's chief information officer, and Jerry Edgerton, MCI's senior vice president of government markets. The contract directs a joint agency/company team to develop a telecommunications inventory of the agency's operating units and a transition plan to complete service changes by the end of June.

FTS 2001 is expected to save the federal government $4 billion over eight years. The omnibus contract includes long-distance voice services, Internet-based services such as electronic commerce, high-speed data communication, videoconferencing and high-availability circuits for mission-critical users.

In April, DOT awarded MCI a $160 million contract to replace the agency's FTS 2000 contract with AT&T. The transition originally was scheduled to be completed by December 2000, but agency and company officials believe they can meet the earlier June goal. "The DOT agreement is the first we have with a target date, a team established and a process in place to manage the inevitable issues that will come up during the transition," said Michael Serbousek, executive director for government markets at MCI, McLean, Va.

Some of the issues concern resources and different priorities in the agency's sectors, Serbousek said. "It will be a major transition," he said. "We have some large programs at the Federal Aviation Administration and the Coast Guard, but we don't have any of their FTS 2001 business."

The FTS 2001 winners, MCI and Sprint, have been competing for federal agency telecom work since the nonmandatory contract was awarded 11 months ago. However, since then, few agencies—including DOT—have started migrating to the new contract, a lack of progress that last week's agreement is designed to remedy.

The transition to FTS 2001 has been slow across government because the transition is complicated and takes a lot of planning from the outgoing vendor and the new service provider, said Alan Chvotkin, vice president of business management for AT&T Government Markets.

Most agencies are focused on preparing their systems for the Year 2000 date change and do not want to tackle additional transitions, he said.

Concerns about the capabilities of Sprint and MCI to fulfill the deal also have slowed migration to the new telecom pact, Chvotkin said.

"A lot of agencies like the service they're getting from AT&T," Chvotkin said. After AT&T did not win an FTS 2001 award, the company offered price cuts to keep agencies on the FTS 2000 contract. "We put our [proposed] FTS 2001 prices in effect under our existing contract almost a year before those contracts would be implemented," he said.

The FTS 2001 transition team is made up of DOT officials from the agency's 15 operating entities and MCI account representatives, with oversight from Molaski. The team will be responsible for taking an inventory of the products and services in the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the FAA, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the Secretary, the Coast Guard and other bureaus of DOT.

FTS 2001 will serve 100,000 employees at DOT. Where possible, services should be consolidated across the department, Molaski said. The goal is to eliminate duplication of work by having one team working with all parts of the agency.

"It's really not the [transportation] modes cooperating in this that's the real issue," Molaski said. "It's from the DOT perspective looking at the common needs and unique aspects of what they need."

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