Sandia, Verizon form telecom partnership

Sandia National Laboratories has reached a nonbinding agreement with Verizon Federal Network Systems to develop additional telecommunications capabilities for the facility, which is part of the Energy Department.

Sandia and Verizon representatives signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which they characterized as a partnership. The lab has signed similar agreements with seven other partners, but Verizon is the largest.

Gary Romero, Sandia's team leader for strategic sourcing, said the agreement surpasses the five-year, $50 million contract that Sandia awarded Verizon in 2003. Under that contract, the company manages the lab's communications infrastructure and provides voice, video and data services, and equipment.

"Verizon does a whole lot more than just what's simply stipulated in the contract," Romero said. "What we're doing with the MOU is to recognize that this relationship goes beyond just what's in the contract."

He said such agreements allow Sandia to develop closer relationships with companies it considers to be strategic assets for the lab. The agreement does not provide additional funds for Verizon, and it states that the company is subject to quarterly performance reviews, annual technology reviews and analyses of new opportunities.

"Across the entire world, people are moving the central parts of the Internet out to the edges, and every day people are doing new things with telecommunications, voice, data and video," said Douglas Gilbert, director of Energy Department operations at Verizon Federal Network Systems.

"It's very difficult to write a contract that will last a period of 10 years that is still more or less relevant or germane at the end of it," he added. The agreement creates a partnership to help the lab meet its needs as it grows, he said.

Sandia launched the strategic relationship program last year to strengthen the lab's competitive advantage and establish closer ties to major suppliers. The program makes three designations: transactional, key and strategic.

Sandia has thousands of transactional relationships but only seven key designations and eight strategic relationships, including Verizon, Romero said. To earn the strategic designation, companies go through a rigorous vetting process.

Verizon is the largest company working with Sandia to earn the top strategic designation, Romero said. The other seven are small businesses. No other labs have such a program, he added.

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