The General Services Administration just awarded the $48 billion Networx Universal telecommunications contract, but agencies are already drawing up plans to buy some of the contract's more sophisticated offerings, according to officials with Verizon Business Services, one of three holders of the contract. (The other two are AT&T Government Solutions and Qwest Government Services.)
At a press briefing held today at the telecommunication giant's Washington, D.C., offices, Susan Zeleniak, head of Verizon's federal business, said the three hottest technology services federal IT managers are interested in are private IP networks, managed services and security services. Agencies are specifically interested in how to leverage the Internet to improve services to the public, including upgrading call centers to use speech recognition and other services such as routing Americans' e-mail queries to a specific federal expert and instant messaging chat applications to help Americans navigate a federal Web site or fill out government forms online.
Charles Lee, Verizon Federal's chief technology officer, said agencies are also interested in applications that move content delivery and services "out to the edge of the agency" to serve the citizen, which means an increased interest in wireless technologies and the applications that secure those. "Across the board we are seeing agencies moving forward" to prepare to buy off the Networx contract, Lee said. "No one is sitting back and waiting."
Zeleniak expects most agencies to begin bidding out applications for Networx services by September or October, with a few agencies starting the bidding process before then. Zeleniak also said the transition to Networx should avoid the problems agencies encountered in 2000 when transitioning from FTS2000 to the then-new FTS2001 telecommunications contract.