GovWorks touts telecom service

GovWorks touts telecom service

GovWorks, a franchise fund acquisition center run by the Interior Department, plans to offer telecommunications services to agencies this fall.

'We're trying to achieve a better deal on services for our customer agencies,' said David Sutfin, GovWorks chief of procurement operations.

Just what will be offered under the new contract has not been decided, although the focus is likely to be on local services, contracting officer Linda Butler said.

The shop hired Acquisition Solutions Inc. of Chantilly, Va., to help develop a business plan for the contract. The company is expected to produce a report within six weeks, Butler said. 'We'll know for sure then.'

The Federal Technology Service's Metropolitan Area Acquisition Program now offers competitive local phone service to federal users in select metropolitan areas. But Butler said there is a significant federal market outside of those areas.

'What about the little Social Security office out in Culpeper, Va.?' she said. 'We're looking at this as a natural for short-haul services.'

More features to come

Other services probably will be added over time, which could include wireless and fiber-optic connections, as well as long-distance service.

'We don't intend to compete with FTS,' Butler said. 'What we intend to do is complement them.'

But Sutfin did not rule out competition with FTS, either on local or on long-distance service, which is offered under the FTS 2001 contracts.

'I think we will be looking at the potential, whether it is competing head to head or not,' he said. 'If there is an existing offering, it may be that we are competing.'

GovWorks is intended to provide speedier, more flexible acquisition services to agencies than are available through other sources. It takes on jobs that in-house acquisition shops can't get to or can't get done quickly enough.

It is a fee-for-service shop. Sutfin said that, by controlling its costs, it might be able to charge lower overall prices than FTS.

Critics say FTS service and contract management fees are too high, sometimes rising as high as 80 percent.

Sutfin said he expects the first services to be available by October.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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