AT&T touts small business opportunities

As AT&T Government Solutions begins to develop business based on its March win of the General Services Administration's Networx Universal contract, it is recruiting small business partners.

Much has changed for AT&T over the past few years, according to company officials who spoke at an "industry day" event today in Arlington, Va. The company has grown through mergers and acquisitions, and the win of Networx Universal means the company now has a more direct gateway to federal network and telecommunications customers than it previously did.

GSA announced today that AT&T is one of the winners of Satcom II, the agency's satellite communications contract, and Networx Enterprise and Alliant, a professional services contract, will be awarded soon. AT&T is a contender for both.

All of this means the company is likely to need small business partners who can provide specialized niche services, according to speakers at the event.

"For the next two years, there's going to be a tremendous amount of transition activity" as agencies move from the FTS2001 contract to Networx, said Jeff Mohan, director of business development under Networx. Some agencies will move quickly and others more cautiously, but "every one of them will have to move."

To meet that need, AT&T looks to partners to augment its own core offerings, he said. "We try to create a teaming environment that allows us to go to a customer and say, 'Yes we can do that,' for almost anything," he said.

There's more to AT&T than just telecommunications and network services, however. Randy Boldosser, executive director of the company's National Information Systems business unit, said his division undertakes information technology services and integration work.

The team members that Boldosser's unit needs are those with specialized skills in IT, he said. "It's really a leg up if you have [security] clearances already," he added.

Scott Denniston, director of small and disadvantaged business programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, added some insight into the government customer's thinking.

"If you come to me as a program manager, and you as a small business, and I don't know you and you want me to give you a chance, the first question I have is, what's in it for me," he said.

Successful small contractors do the market research to know who is buying the kinds of products and services they sell, and know how to present themselves to make a case for their company quickly, he said.

"You've got to figure out what you do and why you do it better than anybody else," and make a clear argument to potential customers based on that, he said.

AT&T Government Solutions is a unit of AT&T Inc. of San Antonio. The company ranks No. 31 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list of the largest federal IT contractors. The 2007 Top 100 list is due out May 14.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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