FTS 2001, warts and all

Should the General Services Administration’s Federal
Technology Service bother to award the FTS 2001 contracts on which it has toiled so long?

Some are asking this question as the delay-plagued program appears to be headed for
awards, possibly by the end of this month. Isn’t there a better way? Although its
popularity isn’t proven, wouldn’t GSA’s Seat Management Program, with its
eight contracts, be a better model for future governmentwide contracts? Maybe the
Multiple-Award Schedule program, with its thousands of contracts, is an even better model.

As GSA prepares to award a small number of big contracts, a fair question is whether it
wouldn’t be better off creating a schedule of telecommunications contracts and
letting agencies cherry-pick the services they want.

FTS 2001 won’t be mandatory for agencies, so it’s not as if GSA officials can
guarantee winning bidders any particular volume of business, as they could under FTS 2000.
And many of FTS 2001’s services are already available in existing contracts.

Nevertheless, the answer is yes. GSA should award. Here’s why.

Delays in FTS 2001 have been caused partly by how fast the telecom field is changing.
Three interrelated factors have made it difficult for FTS officials to design a contract
vehicle to replace FTS 2000:

The very turbulence of the telecom market will, I believe, make FTS 2001 popular with
agencies. It will resemble other modern contracts in that winners will represent teams of
specialized vendors selling a myriad of services.

It will simplify the complex task of buying telecom by virtue of having a wide
selection of services in a single vehicle. And it will likely ensure competitive pricing
by having GSA as a watchdog—something you can’t say about the cherry-picking

Thomas R. Temin

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