GSA fetes FTS 2001 early birds
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Nov 06, 2000
As the Dec. 6 deadline for the transition to the FTS 2001 telecommunications
contract approaches, the General Services Administration honored more than
half of the 165 federal customers for crossing the finish line early.
A ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Monday hailed 89 small agencies for
successfully switching their telecommunications circuits to those provided
by MCI WorldCom or Sprint.
Frank Lalley, assistant commissioner for service delivery in GSA's Federal
Technology Service, said the agencies also met loftier goals of the $1.5
billion contract, including:
* Creating more choices.
* Offering commercial services and negotiating lower prices for federal
* Stimulating competition in the local and long-distance telecommunications
In general, agencies that have not completed the transition to FTS 2001
are still switching remote sites and very large data networks and hub sites,
Lalley said. A large frame-relay data network could take 90 to 120 days
to implement, while a voice network could be done in a matter of days, he
said. Some voice networks, such as toll-free call centers, are more complex,
Robert Bubniak, acting chief information officer of the Department of
Veterans Affairs and chairman of the Interagency Management Council for
FTS 2001, stressed the complexity of switching long-distance voice and network
"They didn't just move over like-for-like services," Bubniak said. Agencies
evaluated the technical options and contract options, then picked a contractor
and worked in partnership with the contractor to find the best route to
transition, he said.
"The hallmark of the entire transition effort to date has been the teaming,"
FTS 2001 is different from its predecessor, FTS 2000, Lalley said, because
it offers the agencies choices about what services and what providers they
want to use.
GSA already is looking to the future of FTS 2001. In the next couple
of weeks, GSA will create a plan for crossing local telecommunications contracts
from the Metropolitan Area Acquisition program with FTS 2001, said Sandra
Bates, GSA's FTS commissioner. In some cases, agencies may be able to use
their long-distance provider for local services.
"We're confident there are companies that can do both," Bates said.
As a result, Bates expects to have multiple and overlapping contracts that
will not require a huge transition like FTS 2001, she said. Agencies will
transition services only when they need to.
GSA also is exploring the best ways to offer emerging technologies and
merge IT and networking, which have traditionally been separate businesses.
John Johnson, who was recently appointed FTS assistant commissioner for
service development, will lead that effort.