Inside BT Federal's strategy for EIS

The General Services Administration’s next-generation telecommunications contract is a massive opportunity with its $50 billion ceiling and the U.S. federal business of British Telecom is one of now nine carriers looking to get its share of the action.

Last August, GSA awarded the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract to 10 vendors including BT Federal. That pool of winners became nine in November of last year when CenturyLink merged with another EIS winner in Level 3.

It is still early stages before business can start flowing from EIS but the vendors are hard at work in preparing for it to open for business. And in the meantime, BT Federal has brought onboard a new president and CEO in Wray Varley to help spearhead the business’ push for new market share against traditional telecom players.

The business is a newcomer to EIS, the successor to GSA's Networx vehicle that acts as the agency's main mechanism for telecom services buys.

A 25-year telecom veteran, Varley started his role as head of the Reston, Virginia-based BT Federal business at the beginning of this year. His career also includes time as head of Infinera’s public sector program and other federal market leadership roles at CenturyLink, its predecessor Qwest business and Verizon.

“One of my primary goals is to ensure that BT Federal takes as much advantage as possible of all of the wealth of products and services BT brings to the market,” Varley said. We want to create an atmosphere where there’s a lot of communication between us and the BT Corporation so we create as much synergy as possible.”

“We have a lot of flexibility in how we’re going to craft our solutions… having that ability to reach back into BT for other services,” Varley said. “At the same time we can craft together solutions with whatever partners we may be able to reach out to.”

All nine EIS vendors are going through the process of back-end system testing and fulfilling other requirements to get certified and ready for the contract’s official transition date in 2020. Once EIS starts and replaces the current Networx vehicle, there will be approximately 500 full-and-open opportunities available to the carriers over the 10-year duration.

Like many of its EIS competitors, BT Federal envisions being able to bring the parent company’s global network into the federal marketplace -- or “reachback” as Varley put it -- once EIS gets going and agencies start to use the contract.

“One thing about EIS having nine providers is that there’s a lot of good potential competition out there with a number of companies that may have strengths that others don’t in particular areas,” Varley said.

“I think we will be able to get at a point where BT Federal will be much more of a brand name within the federal government and look to create not just brand recognition but brand relevance.”

Already however, much of that global reach can already be seen in BT Federal’s work for the Defense Systems Information Agency under the $4.3 billion Global Network Services contract awarded in 2015 to eight vendors total.

Not unlike EIS, the GNS contract is a primary telecom contract for DISA and other defense agencies. Varley said this fits in with the global footprint of BT and believes the business can “utilize that (contract) for any other agencies that have other international needs.”

The BT Federal business traces its roots to the former Control Data Systems, which was a mainframe and IT services provider to federal agencies. British Telecom’s former Syntegra business -- at the time BT’s systems integration arm -- acquired Control Data Systems in 1999, then that business rebranded to Syntegra.

BT Federal operates as a standalone unit of the parent company with its own management team under a proxy agreement. This arrangement is similar to that of BAE Systems Inc., the British defense contractor’s U.S. subsidiary that also has its own executive team and board of directors.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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