Ross Wilkers


Under the hood of AT&T's EIS win at Transportation

AT&T’s booking of a 12-year, $175 million network modernization task order with the Transportation Department and the company’s start on that effort comes amid two broader trends in the public sector.

Trend number one is the remote and dispersed workforce, which many believe will hold in a post-pandemic future. Much of Transportation’s nearly 55,000-strong workforce has worked out of the office since the coronavirus pandemic became such 15 months ago, as has been the case for many other civilian agencies.

I asked AT&T executive Chris Smith on Monday to speak broadly about the future of work given the current environment. He offered this: “I don’t think we’re going to see the pendulum swing back completely the other way.”

“We’ve seen a lot of large corporations and I think we’ll see the government do a similar thing, is have a much broader flex policy,” said Smith, also a former Agriculture Department chief information officer.

“People who traditionally had been in the office more often may only be there two-to-three days and they’re out on customer sites, or working remotely going into the future.”

For Transportation specifically: this order announced Tuesday will see AT&T deliver a new Internet Protocol-based platform to help the department extend the network surface and use cloud services to support a more physically dispersed workforce.

AT&T won the order through the government-wide Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

“The modern network of today: it’s very hybrid in nature and can be sized to large campus-based areas where you’ve got a lot of people coming together to work, to midsized offices to the smallest branch offices that may be out there,” Smith said.

Overarching trend number two this order coincides with is the clear, strong signals from the Biden administration that U.S. infrastructure will be a priority however the prospects of a large funding bill shake out.

That would involve much of what is Transportation’s wheelhouse including but not limited to highways, railways and airways. Smith highlighted the mobile component of AT&T’s modernization work as one example of supporting department personnel in the field, including those on the scene conducting investigations of accidents or other events.

So too is the cyber component to make sure the underlying network infrastructure that helps DOT manage the very large, expansive physical pieces.

“DOT’s smack in the middle of all that: that’s their mission is to make sure that it’s done safely, that they continue to innovate around how they’re doing it,” Smith said.

“If the network’s not there, you’re not getting to your workloads and applications, you’re not able to carry out all those things from an IT standpoint,” he added.

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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