Help is on call for FTS cutover

Help is on call for FTS cutover

GSA, vendors form transition task force

By Willam Jackson
GCN Staff

The Interagency Management Council, the General Services Administration and telecommunications carriers have formed a high-level task force to try to accelerate agencies' transition to FTS 2001.

GSA's Federal Technology Service awarded FTS 2001 long-haul contracts to Sprint Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. almost a year ago. Since then, only about 10 percent of agencies have moved to the new contracts, said John Johnson, head of the task force. Final extensions of the old FTS 2000 contract expire in December 2000.

'We have a lot of work to do between now and then,' said Johnson, the Defense Department's FTS 2001 transition officer.

Because FTS 2001 rates are substantially lower than those of FTS 2000, the delays cost agencies money.

The Transportation Department formed its own transition team, signing an agreement this month with MCI WorldCom for an aggressive transition schedule.

'The deadline is December 2000,' said George Molaski, Transportation's chief information officer. 'We want to cut that in half and do better if at all possible.'

The job of bringing under a single plan the operational and technological needs of 15 bureaus as disparate as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard and the Federal Railroad Administration is a big one, Molaski said.

'It's going to be extremely tough,' he said, 'but we believe the timetable is realistic.'

Transition is complicated by a telecommunications environment that has more players than when the FTS 2000 contracts were awarded to Sprint and AT&T Corp. in 1988. Many of the participants compete directly against one another. One big hassle is getting access to long-haul services through local exchange carriers, some of which are rivals of the FTS 2001 vendors.

Local-carrier access is a problem inside and outside FTS 2001, Johnson said.

The contracts themselves also have problems. The modification process is complicated and lengthy, requiring incumbent support agreements, and billing issues are proving thorny, Johnson said.

Each agency has its own billing requirements.

'Some of them stand in the way of transition,' Johnson said. 'If you can't bill for services within the agency, that's a problem.'

Johnson was a mover behind formation of the IMC subcommittee, officially known as the FTS 2001 Transition Managers Forum. His experience overseeing the transition of 40 percent of DOD agencies convinced him there were governmentwide issues that needed collective action.

At a minimum, the transition will affect agency billing and administrative services, and in some cases it will involve changing service providers, replacing circuits and equipment, and moving from one type of service to another.

Many agencies have delayed the transition to finish year 2000 fixes, which have monopolized their resources. 'But Y2K is over,' one IMC official said.

The task force, which initially met Nov. 8, includes the senior transition managers from each IMC member agency plus a representative of the Small Agency Council, the IMC chairman, the FTS assistant commissioner for service delivery, and representatives of the FTS 2000 and FTS 2001 contractors.

'We've asked for fairly senior representation that can make decisions,' Johnson said. He would not predict whether all agencies will manage the transition before bridge contracts expire next year.

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