Jeff Mohan, Executive Director, Networx Program Office, AT&T Government Solutions (NYSE: T) acknowledges that while it's true that government agencies haven't exactly been swift in migrating off FTS-2001 to GSA Networx, it's anything but slow in the public sector.
A 29-year industry veteran who also got his start at the former GTE Telenet, a precursor to Sprint (NYSE: S), when GTE bought out the former SP Communications, Mohan is at the front seat of how the government is transitioning from the former GSA FTS-2001 to Networx and other major government communications contracts.
Speaking to FierceTelecom from his desk with soup in hand for about the 20th day in a row, Mohan admitted that federal agencies are "about a year or a year and a half behind in moving customers over, but we're working at a pretty substantial pace right now to move customers over."
Mohan added that the real concern "is the expiration of the current contracts a year from now, and if you look at what needs to happen over the next year there's a lot of work to be done."
However, progress is being made as some agencies are either done with their transition or, like Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), are close to it. AT&T's own preparation for Networx paid off in 2007 when along with fellow RBOC Qwest it was awarded a place on both GSA Networx Universal and Networx Enterprise contract vehicles.
Since winning a coveted spot on the Universal contract, AT&T has garnered major wins from not only Veterans Affairs as a prime, but also the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOT, and more recently the USDA.
The VA's $120 million data network contract and DOT--two agencies that are nearly completed with their transition to Networx--could be seen as catalysts for other agencies making the FTS-2001 to Networx transition because both agencies created a specific plan.
"VA is one of the agencies that have just about finished its transition along with Department of Transportation which is also complete," Mohan said. "The common link in all of those is they made their decisions pretty quickly; they had definitive ideas what they wanted to accomplish with the transition from FTS-2001 over to Networx; and had a dedicated set of folks at an agency level to make that happen."
Along with providing all of their traditional telecom and IP-based services, a growing area of concern is network security. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative is also on AT&T's radar. Under the TIC mandate, federal agencies had to take an inventory of how many connections they have to the public Internet and how they are secured.
To help agencies comply with the TIC initiative, AT&T Government now offers its Managed Trusted IP Services (MTIPS) service under Networx Enterprise and Networx Universal. Already, AT&T Government Solutions has won task orders under Networx for Managed Internet MTIPS from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.
"To help agencies meet their TIC initiative obligations, GSA said we have this telecommunications contract, so let's create a product on Networx and we'll make that product something the agency can buy a standardized service and comply with this initiative," Mohan said. "It will save them the pain and heartache of trying to design a particular service and allow them to take advantage of the services offered by the vendors."
While there are no transitions without issues, it's clear that as other agencies pick AT&T for Networx, Mohan and his team will be ready to take advantage of the contract if they are either migrating from FTS-2001 or are coming to it for the first time.