October 04, 2010, 8:23 PM — Three years ago, the U.S. Treasury Department awarded a billion-dollar network consolidation project to AT&T, which claimed to win the deal due to its superior "transition plan."
Today, both the federal agency and its carrier admit the Treasury Network (TNet) -- which involves consolidating 15 separate networks into a single, secure IP backbone -- is notably behind schedule and continues to experience performance problems.
Indeed, TNet has encountered so many issues that the umbrella program that funds it -- which goes by the acronym ITT TSS for IT Infrastructure Telecommunications -- recently landed on the Office of Management and Budget's list of 26 high-risk federal IT projects. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra released the high-risk list a month ago, threatening to discontinue any of the projects that can't be turned around.
How did TNet get so far off track?
In September 2007, TNet was the first major award under Networx Universal, which is a governmentwide telecommunications program managed by the General Services Administration. AT&T won TNet in a competitive bid believed to include Networx Universal rivals Verizon and Qwest.
TNet is approximately two years behind its original schedule. The transition of the Treasury's predecessor data network -- called TCS for Treasury Communications System -- was supposed to begin in November 2007 and take about a year, according to a January 2010 report by the agency's Office of Inspector General. Instead, the agency just finished migrating the TCS circuits to AT&T's Networx contract in August 2010.
Treasury blames the delays on new network security requirements that were put in place by the Bush Administration in November 2007, shortly after TNet was awarded.