FAA speeds e-mail transition

The Federal Aviation Administration has finished an ambitious rollout of a new e-mail program, moving 40,000 employees to an IBM Corp. Lotus Notes-based system in nine months.

The FAA awarded a 10-year contract, valued at $30 million, to IBM in June 2001 to develop an enterprisewide replacement for its existing system, based on cc:Mail — an outdated program from IBM subsidiary Lotus Development Corp. that the company no longer supports.

The agency completed the first phase of the Next Generation Messaging System program in September 2002, consolidating more than 855 e-mail "post offices" on servers spread across 379 locations. The new system relies on 12 locations.

"We're told by IBM that's as fast a rollout as they've seen in the public sector," said Daniel Mehan, the FAA's chief information officer.

The agency also cut back the number of administrators it needs for its e-mail system from about 400 to 76.

Benefits include cost savings, faster message delivery and improved security, officials said.

"The bottom line was that Lotus cc wasn't going to be maintained and we wanted a system we could interface across" the Transportation Department, said Dennis DeGaetano, the FAA's deputy associate administrator for research and acquisitions.

The new system is interoperable with the rest of the department's agencies, which mostly use Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange, officials said.

Future phases will add user-requested features and emerging technologies.

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