IRS decides to stick with AT&T for 800 phone service

IRS decides to stick with AT&T for 800 phone service

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

The IRS has decided to stay with AT&T Corp. for its toll-free 800 telephone service for at least three more years rather than risk disrupting the first phase of its tax modernization program.

The estimated value of the toll-free service is up to $20 million a year.

'It was really the only choice we had,' IRS procurement director Jim Williams said.

The tax agency signed up for long-distance telephone service from AT&T under the FTS 2000 program. Under FTS 2001, the IRS is moving the rest of its voice and data services to Sprint Corp., but the agency decided to leave toll-free service where it is because it is an integral part of the customer communications system.

Transition of a major system from one service provider to another presents a significant risk regardless of the parties involved, Williams said. Under pressure to improve customer communications, IRS officials believed 'the decision was clear'we couldn't do both,' he said.

In December 1998, the agency awarded its 15-year Prime contract, worth an estimated $5 billion, to Computer Sciences Corp., which is overseeing modernization of the IRS' information systems [GCN, Dec. 14, 1998, Page 1].

Changes to the toll-free phone services will include more use of voice recognition and better self-service call routing to offload work from IRS representatives.

The agency worked with the General Services Administration to negotiate a three-year extension to the current AT&T FTS 2000 bridge contract, which expires Dec. 6.

The terms are similar but with better prices, Williams said. 'Our benchmark for pricing was FTS 2001,' he said.

Modernization will be far enough along in three years to assess options for 800 service at that time, he said.

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