27 agencies miss FTS 2001 switchover

Two days past the deadline for switching to the FTS 2001 telecommunications

contract, 27 agencies out of the 146 making the transition from FTS 2000

told the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service that

they had not completed the switch.

As of Dec. 8, agencies that had not completed the transition to either

WorldCom Inc. or Sprint included the Treasury, Agriculture and Transportation

departments as well as the Office of Personnel Management and GSA (for a

complete list, see this story online at www.fcw. com/fcw/current.asp).

Agencies are in different stages of completion, and most only have a

few circuits left to change, said Frank Lalley, assistant commissioner for

service delivery at FTS. "We're going to be carrying service all the way

through May," Lalley said. "Our plan has us done by May.... The problems

are complex data networks and remote locations."

GSA signed last-minute extensions to the FTS 2000 bridge contracts with

Sprint and AT&T that will give customers of Sprint until June 6, 2001,

and customers of AT&T until Dec. 6, 2001, to move off the old telecom

contract, Lalley said. Lower prices offered by both companies in fiscal

2000 will not apply to the extensions.

AT&T will charge $8 million to cover

administrative costs such as billing. Agencies also will pay more for switched-voice

services as usage declines.

"This will stimulate agencies to review their transition schedules and

escalate them," Lalley said.

Representatives of WorldCom and Sprint said the program got off to a

slow start after the Year 2000 rollover, and some agencies were slow to

order services.

"We expect to be complete by the end of February," said Tony D'Agata,

vice president and general manager of Sprint Government Systems Division,

which reported that 87 of its 112 FTS 2001 customers had completed the transition.

"We all had hoped to complete things sooner than this but...it took longer

than everybody expected."

WorldCom has completed about 80 percent of the transition at 79 agencies,

said Rick Slifer, director of FTS programs for WorldCom Government Markets

division.

"I wouldn't point the finger at agencies and I wouldn't point the finger

at contractors," Lalley said. "I know it took longer than they expected

it to. It's just not an easy thing to do. The interaction between agencies

and contractors caused people to think about their options more thoroughly."

A more important issue now is whether agencies took the opportunity

to upgrade their services to the next generation of networked technologies,

said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc., a consulting firm specializing

in the federal technology market.

"At this point, I still think that's a question mark," Suss said. "Some

agencies have, some agencies haven't."

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