Georgia to outsource telecom

To better manage its information technology, Georgia plans to outsource

and consolidate its telecommunications services in the next 18 months.

The services would include voice, data, two-way radio, wireless technologies

and support services, such as billing and desktop management, said Michael

Clark, marketing and communications coordinator for the Georgia Technology

Authority (GTA), the agency that manages and coordinates IT for state agencies.

He said the GTA would still manage and control the data, but that assessing,

purchasing and installing technology is not something the state should be

doing.

"It's not a core competency of state government to manage this information

and communications infrastructure," Clark said. "The technology is changing

so rapidly that, arguably, it doesn't make sense for us to invest in that

infrastructure."

"It's a lot like what San Diego did, but obviously on a much larger

scale," he added. Two years ago, San Diego County outsourced its communications

and computer services to the private sector.

Georgia plans to issue a Request for Qualified Contractors in May to

help identify companies with the capabilities, financial stability, proven

track record and interest in bidding for the contract. A Request for Proposal

will be issued in August, and the state hopes to award the contract in January.

Clark said he expected several companies would have to partner to manage

a system of this size.

Currently, the Department of Administrative Services manages the telecommunications

network, but Clark said GTA would assume that role July 1, through an executive

order that is expected to be signed by Gov. Roy Barnes, and until it is

outsourced.

Clark said the state has been thinking of outsourcing telecommunications

for at least a year. A February 2000 KPMG International report said that

although Georgia is "comparable in size to a Fortune 100 company" with a

$22.5 billion budget and an estimated $800 million in technology expenditures,

its technology approach "resembles that of a loose confederation of small

to mid-sized organizations."

Although the report, which led to the creation of the GTA that summer,

did not specifically recommend outsourcing, Clark said it served as part

of the impetus for the current initiative.

"We've been told that a lot of states and other governments are watching

us very closely; and this may be a model for other states and other governments

outside the United States that may attempt this," he said.

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