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Small Step for Information Technology,
Big Step for Procurement

April 1999

Last January, the U.S. General Services Administration selected MCI WorldCom to provide long-distance telephone, data and video telecommunications services to federal government agencies worldwide in the second and final round of its multi-billion dollar FTS2001 competition. Sprint was selected in the first round in late December.

Look, No Paper

But for those interested in every aspect of electronic government (e-gov, as we say), that was not the whole story. The fact is, this multi-billion dollar procurement was conducted from start to finish without paper. We are talking electronic procurement, from vendors submitting complex proposals electronically right down to the digitized signatures that completed the deal.

Teams Get Vice President Goreís Hammer Award

On March 5, two federal teams, GSAís FTS2001 team and the Federal Security Infrastructure (FSI) teamóalong with their industry partners--received Vice President Gore's Hammer Award for the FTS2001 electronic bid process.

"Through your partnerships, your have helped prepare us for paperless transactions and electronic bidding," said GSA Administrator David J. Barram. "It was a small step for technology, but a really big step for procurement. You have helped pave the way for our future."

Individual Hammer awardees were:

GSA's FTS2001 Team -- Bruce Barrow, Bruce Brignull, Harold Green, Colette McKenna, Barbara Norsworthy, Sybille L. Seltmann, and Michael Toomey; FSI Team -- John Purcell, Treasury; James Degenford, NSA; and Stanley Choffrey, Angela Chambers, Trudy Hawkins, Terry Hobson, Phillip Mellinger, and Joseph Sharkey, GSA. Mitretek Systems -- James L. Fisher, Stephen P. Frost, Hsiaosu Hsiung, Monette R. Respress, and Kenneth D. Stillson; Cygnacom Solutions -- Chad Anderson, Santosh Chokhani, Matthew Cooper, and Isadore Schoen; Information Security Corporation -- Dr. Michael J. Markowitz and Thomas J. Venn; Atalla -- Ching Chen, John Gregory, Larry Hines, and Bill Revels; Fischer International -- Mike Battaglia, Lee Drennan, Addison Fischer, and Jon Kaplan.

Savings Are Huge

Estimates show that the savings to the government, for processing the proposals, were approximately $1.5 million and 52,000 staff hours. This project is the first to show a secure federal transaction using new-age approaches while adhering to federal guidelines for identification and registration.

Using the Federal Paperless Transactions for the public pilot project, GSAís Federal Technology Service digitally signed the FTS2001 request for proposals and posted it on their website along with a dowloadable application to check signature validity and document integrity. Subsequently, the same project provided a means for vendors to propose electronically on the FTS2001 contract by signing the proposal using digital signature. The contract award was also conducted in a paperless environment using the same digital signature capability.

And Now Back to What the Paperless Process Bought

Both Sprint and MCI WorldCom will share equally a total minimum revenue guarantee of $1.5 billion -- $750 million each -- in federal telecommunications business, and both companies will compete head-to-head for business over the life of the contract. The estimated value of government business under FTS2001 is more than $5 billion over the eight-year contract.

Through GSA negotiations over the past 10 years, telecommunications services have gone from a national average of 27 cents per minute in 1988 to 5.5 cents per minute under FTS2000. Under FTS2001, prices start at about 4 cents per minute and drop to less than 1-cent per minute by the end of the contract.

These contracts follow the two successful FTS2000 contracts currently held by AT&T and Sprint, which began in 1988, and retain some of its key features, especially the aggressive price competition. During the past ten years FTS2000 has continually reduced prices saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

"This has been an extremely hard fought competition," said GSA Administrator David J. Barram. "In this final round GSA has gained even further remarkable savings over those achieved in the first round. We are very pleased with the overall results of the FTS2001 competition. This is a good example of how we are using real market competition to help forge a path to inexpensive electronic government in the next millennium."

Barram said that this acquisition completes a key component of the new full-service GSA. "During the last several years weíve restructured GSA to provide better products and services to our customers at lower and lower costs," he said. "We will continue to invest in high technology to provide the federal workforce with the most economical, state-of-the-art tools they need to accomplish their mission. We look forward to even stronger partnerships with American industry as they lead the way with products and services for our customers -- products that we will buy using aggressive competition."

"In December, I reported that we had achieved the lowest prices anyone has ever seen for telecommunications services," said Dennis Fischer, Commissioner of the Federal Technology Service, the organization responsible for conducting the competition. "We just beat those prices with this final round of competition and we can now project a price reduction of more than 65 percent and total savings in excess of $4 billion over todayís current prices. This is indeed a banner day for the taxpayer, because their government continues to find ways to be more accessible to them, to work better for them, and best of all, to cost less."

FTS2001 Program Features

Following are highlights of what FTS2001 customers can expect to receive under the new long-distance contracts:

  • Comprehensive range of service offerings
  • Long distance, toll-free, and 900 voice services
  • Internet and intranet based services
  • Data communications services from low-speed to very high-speed interconnections using latest technologies like Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and Frame Relay
  • Dedicated services from low-speed to high-speed circuits
  • Special arrangements for mission-critical users (e.g., high-availability circuits, national security and emergency users)
  • International services
  • Wide range of support services, including state-of-the art ordering, billing, network troubleshooting, and repair capabilities
  • Continuous competition between Sprint and MCI WorldCom designed to allow agencies to act as "smart shoppers" in a commercial-like marketplace
  • Price management mechanism to ensure continued competitive pricing and prevent a disparity if industry prices drop below governments
  • Government customers on par with commercial customers ñ government gets access to new services at same pace as commercial marketplace
  • No up-front payments
  • No government investment

In expressing his enthusiasm for the FTS2001 award, Ron Hack said, "We knew we did well after the first round, but this second round further strengthens the telecommunications prospects for Federal telecommunications users." Hack, who is Telecommunications Director at the Department of Commerce and chair of the agency advisory group for FTS2000 known as the Interagency Management Council added, "We have two very robust competitors vying for our business in a competitive federal market. The agencies are well served by this outcome. We could not have hoped for a better result. This is a great success for the agency customers of FTS2001 and for the American taxpayers."

The FTS2001 acquisition ends a five-year process involving many organizations ñ Congress, oversight organizations, industry, federal customers, and GSA ñ that have collaborated in various ways. Many discussions were held with congressional and industry leaders, which prompted adjustments to the approach to reflect the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by encouraging end-to-end competition, not just long-distance; enhanced the competition strategy; raised the revenue guarantees from $1.0 billion to $1.5 billion; and limited the number of available awards to two.

As part of the strategy and as a way of establishing competition for local services, GSA is also conducting telecommunications acquisitions in major metropolitan areas across the country. These acquisitions, known as the Metropolitan Area Acquisitions (MAAs), are scheduled to begin rolling out in early 1999 and will help GSA realize the ultimate goal of establishing end-to-end competitive telecommunications services delivery to its customer agencies.

Administrator Barram praised the leadership of Bruce Brignull, Al Olson and the entire FTS2001 acquisition team for actively pursuing all competitive possibilities leading to a full competitive services acquisition that resulted in the lowest rates available in the market.

"Through these procurements, GSA has positioned itself to become the provider of choice for full-service, low-cost, long-distance telecommunications services to our customers," Barram said. "GSA's efforts will save these agencies and ultimately the American taxpayer billion of dollars over what they are spending today and this is in addition to the savings they have realized over the past decade."

For More Information

Contact: Bill Bearden (202) 501-1231 or Contact: Eleni Martin at (202) 501-1231 or Bill and Eleni are public affairs specialists at the General Services Administration in Washington, DC.