GSA readies FTS 2001 follow-on contract

Work on a successor contract to the FTS 2001 and the Metropolitan Area Acquisition (MAA) program, the General Services Administration's chief telecommunications contract vehicles, is entering a new phase.

Sandra Bates, commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service (FTS), approved the work her staff has done so far on developing the contract during an informal meeting today, said John Johnson, FTS' assistant commissioner of service development and service delivery. Now, FTS will begin to solicit input from the agencies it serves, he said.

To be called Networx, the new vehicle will replace FTS 2001, which provides long-distance service and expires in 2006, as well as the MAAs, which provide local phone service. The MAAs have staggered completion dates, but the final contract will expire in 2008, he said.

Networx will be in place well before the other vehicles expire to allow ample time for a transition, he said.

After beginning talks with agencies, FTS will bring telecom vendors into the mix as well, most likely beginning in May, he said.

"Whenever you unveil a strategy like this, there are always differences of opinion," he said. "It's not a slam dunk by any means."

Johnson declined to discuss specific elements of the Networx strategy but said it will take the rapidly changing nature of the telecom industry into account.

Johnson, who joined GSA in 2000, was a project manager at the Defense Information Systems Agency in the late 1990s and helped the Defense Department make the transition from the FTS 2000 telecommunication contract to FTS 2001. He served as assistant commissioner of service development at GSA and added the service delivery duties in January when his predecessor, Denny Groh, left the agency.

He made his comments to an audience of mostly telecommunications vendors at a luncheon today that was sponsored by the Information Technology Professionals Association in Washington, D.C.

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