FAA joins FTS 2001

The Federal Aviation Administration has reached an agreement with MCI WorldCom

to buy telecommunications services through the governmentwide FTS 2001 program,

potentially limiting competition on its own multibillion-dollar telecom

procurement.

The FAA had requested to opt out of FTS 2001 because the contract's

offerings did not meet some of the high availability requirements for air

traffic control networks. But the Transportation Department has been on

the fast track to switch the entire department to FTS 2001 and MCI WorldCom

by June.

"My concern and my focus [were on] making sure they were in the fold

for moving to FTS 2001," said George Molaski, DOT's chief information officer.

The FAA still plans to compete a separate contract, FAA Telecommunications

Infrastructure, to consolidate its telecom networks and turn over their

management to a single vendor, said Steve Dash, FAA acquisition manager

for telecom.

DOT and FAA officials have stressed that the two contracts are separate.

"Our business case for FTI really assumed that our administrative services

from the outset would be on an FTS contract," Dash said.

But some potential bidders on the FTI contract have expressed concern

that an FAA transition to FTS 2001 could give MCI an advantage in the FTI

competition ["FAA telecom bids in jeopardy," FCW, April 3].

"The political overlay of the FAA request caused Qwest not to engage,"

said Jim Payne, vice president of Qwest Federal Systems.

Given the scope of FTI, FTS 2001 service quality and MCI's past performance

on FAA networks, "it certainly puts MCI in a commanding position," said

a former FAA telecom director.

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