AT&T will host FirstGov

'Web hosting gives us flexibility to be able to provide the critical infrastructure for all the e-government projects.'

'Deborah Diaz

The General Services Administration is setting the Web foundation for many of the Office of Management and Budget's 24 e-government initiatives through the FirstGov portal.

To that end, GSA this month awarded AT&T Corp. a four-year, $7.6 million contract for Web hosting and security services for firstgov.gov.

'By providing a centralized hosting facility, the projects will fit together more easily,' said Deborah Diaz, deputy associate administrator for the E-government Solutions Support Office in GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Communications. 'This will allow project leaders to lay the architecture groundwork and then have all the back-end systems hosted in the same area.'

Diaz said the Labor Department's GovBenefits site already is hosted by AT&T and she expects at least six other projects to join in the next few months.

Agencies will not be required to use the contract, but savings in time and money will make it worthwhile for them to do so, said Casey Coleman, chief technology officer for OCSC.

'Projects can stand up Web sites in 60 days by using these hosting services,' Coleman said. 'There is a lot to consider when trying to do that, and we make it easier.'

AT&T, which won the search engine contract in March for the FirstGov portal, was the incumbent. It started work Aug. 14.

GSA competed the contract through the Federal Supply Schedule and had a cross-agency team'with representatives from the Commerce Department, GSA, Labor and an independent third party'evaluate proposals. GSA said Genuity Inc. of Woburn, Mass., was the only other bidder for the contract.

Coleman said Web hosting is a small part of the FirstGov services that AT&T will provide. 'AT&T will manage the servers and do the administrative stuff, but they also will install applications, make sure content is put on the servers and make sure we're running,' she said. 'This is the foundational piece that will allow us to do other things, too.'

GSA will add a content management feature to FirstGov in a few months, and it will offer the service to agencies working on the Quicksilver e-government projects. Other shared services on the horizon include a customer relationship management tool, which is being created through the USA Service e-government initiative, and a portal tool kit.

AT&T will secure FirstGov through the same commercial facilities it uses for many of its banking industry customers, she said.

'Our security exceeds all of OMB's and the National Institute of Standards and Technology's guidance,' Diaz said. 'We wanted to be certain that FirstGov would have the robustness and critical infrastructure that is needed to keep it secure.'

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