FTS 2001, warts and all
Should the General Services Administrations 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. Isnt there a better way? Although its
popularity isnt proven, wouldnt GSAs 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
wouldnt be better off creating a schedule of telecommunications contracts and
letting agencies cherry-pick the services they want.
FTS 2001 wont be mandatory for agencies, so its not as if GSA officials can
guarantee winning bidders any particular volume of business, as they could under FTS 2000.
And many of FTS 2001s services are already available in existing contracts.
Nevertheless, the answer is yes. GSA should award. Heres 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 watchdogsomething you cant say about the cherry-picking
Thomas R. Temin