FTS2001:

Transition Challenges Jeopardize Program Goals

GAO-01-289: Published: Mar 30, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2001.

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Telecommunications services are increasingly critical to transforming the way the federal government does business; communicates internally and externally; and interacts with citizens, industry, and state, local, and foreign governments. Electronic government services based on reliable, secure, and cost-effective telecommunications can enable agencies to streamline the way they do business, reduce paperwork and delays, and increase operational efficiencies. It is important that a far-reaching program, such as the FTS2001 program, take full advantage of new services offered by industry; that agencies effectively and efficiently implement these telecommunications services to improve operations; and that the program be successfully implemented to maximize benefits to the taxpayers. Despite progress, the government did not meet its deadlines for transition to FTS2001 and has not yet completed this effort. The government missed its deadline for several reasons, including a lack of sufficient information to effectively oversee and manage this complex transition, slowness in completing all the contract modifications needed to add transition-critical services to the FTS2001 contracts, slowness of some customer agencies to order FTS2001 services, staffing shortfalls and billing problems on the part of FTS2001 contractors, and local exchange carriers' difficulties providing facilities and services on time. Until the General Services Administration addresses the outstanding issues impeding transition and expeditiously completes this transition, it will be unable to fully achieve its basic FTS2001 goals of ensuring the best service and maximizing competition.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA and the IMC maintain a matrix of billing problems. This matrix includes descriptions of actions taken to solve these problems. Of 28 problems identified by GAO, 27 were corrected by July 2, 2001. The remaining issue was addressed in November 2001, with the provision of reports to support invoices.

    Recommendation: To ensure prompt identification and resolution of any outstanding billing issues, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to work with IMC to develop an action plan that identifies all current billing problems, the actions taken to date to resolve those problems, and a plan that will correct those problems by July 2, 2001.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA, in conjunction with the IMC, maintains a matrix of billing problems. This matrix documents agency confirmation of resolved billing problems.

    Recommendation: To ensure prompt identification and resolution of any outstanding billing issues, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to work with IMC to obtain and document agency confirmation of the resolution of closed issues identified.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA and the IMC have established a matrix of billing problems. This matrix documents the status of billing problems and their resolutions.

    Recommendation: To ensure prompt identification and resolution of any outstanding billing issues, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to work with IMC to document the status of problems raised, and how and when they were resolved, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has established, in conjunction with the Interagency Management Council, a billing users' group, which has developed a matrix of billing problems.

    Recommendation: To ensure prompt identification and resolution of any outstanding billing issues, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to work with the Interagency Management Council (IMC) to catalog all billing problems raised since January 2000 during the meetings of IMC and the IMC's Transition Task Force, GSA's biweekly FTS2001 management meetings, and other agency working groups.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA completed all transition-related modifications by the time of the report's release in April 2001.

    Recommendation: To ensure the achievement of FTS2001 program goals, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to promote the completion of the FTS2001 transition by ensuring that all remaining contract modification proposals related to the transition are processed expeditiously.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA receives reports from the FTS2000 vendor, AT&T, that identify FTS2000 services that have been disconnected as part of the process of transitioning agencies to FTS2001. GSA was not including these data in its formal transition progress reports, when calculating the percentage of sites transitioned. In response to GAO's recommendation, GSA incorporated disconnect-order data in its transition reports from April 6, 2001, on, but did not include the data in its calculations of sites transitioned. From June 15, 2001, GSA established an office that worked directly with AT&T to ensure that disconnects were completed and included as part of transitions. All transitions and disconnects were completed by December 2001.

    Recommendation: To enable more accurate tracking of FTS2001 transition progress, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to track the status of FTS 2000 service disconnection orders and include that information in GSA's transition progress reports from April 6, 2001, onward.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The FTS2001 contracts require the vendors to provide GSA with transition data for GSA's Transition Status and Monitoring System. MCI WorldCom began furnishing GSA with a usable version of the database for this system in December 2000. Sprint furnished its transition database to GSA in September 2001.

    Recommendation: To enable more accurate tracking of FTS2001 transition progress, the Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to obtain usable and complete management information, as required by contract, from the FTS2001 contractors by April 27, 2001.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has sought and obtained about $14.2 million in consideration from the FTS2001 contractors. Specifically, GSA has made Sprint rebate $3.6 million to the Department of Justice for delays in meeting contract requirements. In addition, GSA is withholding payments of $7.8 million to Sprint and $2.8 million to MCI WorldCom in consideration of their failure to meet contract billing requirements, and has informed the contractors that it will not make these payments. In response, only WorldCom has disputed GSA's action, with respect to a sum ($178K) not included in these figures.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should direct the program manager for FTS2001 to continue efforts to obtain consideration from the FTS2001 contractors for failure to meet management information and billing requirements within the time frames established in the contracts.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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