In December 1998, the General Services Administration set out to establish end-to-end competitive tele- communications services for federal agencies through its FTS2001 and Metropolitan Area Acquisition (MAA) contracts. Now, more than three years later, not only has that goal not been met, but with the GSA recently acknowledging that the most difficult work on the FTS2001 transition is still to come, it seems unlikely that truly competitive telecommunications services will be available any time soon, if at all.

Clearly, the time has come to evaluate whether these contracts are capable of providing end-to-end connectivity efficiently, economically and competitively.

Such an evaluation will have to acknowledge that in the 13 years since the original FTS contract was implemented, a technological revolution has occurred with a multitude of competitive telecommunications service providers being launched, and established companies such as AT&T dramatically expanding their capabilities.

Under these radically different circumstances, the best, most efficient way of ensuring the competition-enhancing terms that MAA and FTS2001 contracts sought to establish is to make access to the federal market as direct and open as possible. "Direct" in the sense that once the GSA puts a contract in place, it steps out of the complex process of marketing, defining requirements, and scheduling, and lets the providers and agencies work together directly to develop solutions. And "open" in the sense that any contract holder can seek to deliver its services to any agency covered by the contract. In this way, the market determines pricing terms and technology enhancements and everyone does what they do best in a fast, efficient manner.

During the three years since the GSA set out to establish end-to-end competitive telecommunications services, AT&T has remained dedicated to providing the highest level of customer service possible ? even when that service means the smooth closing out of existing business ? and is ready to provide competitive service choices either through the full implementation of the MAA contracts, or, preferably, in a market where competitive forces directly dictate terms and conditions within the broad guidelines established by the GSA.

Unfortunately, market-enhancing opportunities have been stalled or slow to come and government agencies have been denied the benefits of end-to-end competitive telecommunications services originally envisioned by the FTS2001 and MAA procurements. Undoubtedly, it is in the best interest of the government to remedy this situation immediately by opening the market and letting the market forces work directly and openly with agencies to accomplish their missions.

Wayne Jackson

Public Relations Director

AT&T Government Markets

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