AT&T contract with DOJ worth up to $984 million, includes FirstNet access for more than 40 federal agencies
AT&T this week announced that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) selected it to modernize communications across the 40-plus federal agencies in the department in a deal worth $984 million over 15 years, if all options are exercised.
Stacy Schwartz, AT&T’s vice president of public-safety and FirstNet solutions, said the award technically is a task order under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) procurement program run by General Services Administration (GSA). AT&T is one of 10 vendors chosen for EIS and one of only three—Verizon and CenturyLink are the others—that received the “authority to operate” designation needed to be contracted under EIS, she said.
“It gives us the ability to compete for large, complex communications solutions,” Schwartz said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This award … was the largest to date on this contract vehicle and was awarded to AT&T for the Department of Justice.
“To give you a sense of the scope on this contract, it’s everything from software-defined networking, managed network services, managed security services, mobility services, and voice services—both legacy and IP voice services. It can also potentially include the management structure around all of those, as well. And that’s just a sampling of it.”
Through this award, “the DOJ will transition to a next-generation communications platform supporting more than 120,000 employees across more than 2,100 locations,” according to an AT&T press release. Multiple business units within AT&T will be responsible for executing the task order, which has been awarded and is an active contract, according to Schwartz.
“This will be supported by the [AT&T] public-safety organization and will be more fully supported—in terms of operational, product portfolio solutions—from the AT&T Business portfolio,” she said. “Solutions like SD-WAN, voice over IP, managed security—all of those solutions are being brought to this contract, as well.
“What’s great about this particular award is that it allows us to present our whole portfolio of solutions to the Department of Justice, and we can integrate them in a fashion that supports the end user. It’s not just a product or a particular service; we’re able to integrate all of our solutions into a meaningful offer for the Department of Justice.”
One of those solutions is FirstNet, the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) that AT&T is building under its contract with the FirstNet Authority.
“FirstNet is certainly part of a broader solution that we will be supporting DoJ with,” Schwartz said. “There are agencies within DoJ that are already using FirstNet—ATF is one of them … and was one of the early adopters of FirstNet. What’s interesting here is that we’ll be able to use FirstNet in a variety of different situations.
“FirstNet can be used certainly with devices and plans for voice and data. It can also be used in this situation: We’ve proposed it as an alternative for redundancy for the data network. In certain instances, it can be a redundant solution. In other instances, it could be the only solution in a remote office. Where the end users are obviously eligible for FirstNet, we believe it is the best, most effective solution for that particular end user in an agency office or on location.”
DOJ agencies view FirstNet as an strong interoperability platform for supporting information sharing between federal agencies, as well as communications with state and local entities when responding to larger incidents, according to Schwartz.
“FirstNet has been positioned within those organizations as an excellent tool for all to use, especially in terms of creating interoperability and making sure that they all have a consistent platform for applications, etc.,” she said.
“FirstNet is well known within the Department of Justice, particularly on the law-enforcement side. As folks within DOJ have come to understand that local law enforcement—states, cities, etc.—have adopted FirstNet, it becomes an even more powerful tool, knowing that these communities of interest are already using FirstNet.”
Using a FirstNet PTT-over-LTE technology to complement LMR voice services for the DOJ agencies is a possibility but was not a focus of the EIS task order, Schwartz said.
“Just to be clear, this is not exclusively a mobile contract,” Schwartz said. “FirstNet is a part of it and interoperability is certainly present, but the way in which FirstNet was positioned within this solution wasn’t primarily focused on LMR interoperability.
“That was certainly an aspect of FirstNet that was referenced within our solution, but that wasn’t the primary focus of this award; it was using FirstNet as a redundant option for their networking, as well as—in a remote office—it could be the only communications solution being chosen.”
Schwartz noted that other EIS contract are expected to be awarded by the federal government during the next couple of years.