DOE leads outsourcing trend

A draft solicitation for a five-year, $600 million telecommunications contract at the Energy Department, one of the first examples of a developing outsourcing trend, was published at the end of June.

The Telecommunications Integrator Services (Telis) contract will provide complete integration services - including hardware and software - for supporting local- and wide-area networks, video equipment, Internet services and switched-voice communications for DOE headquarters and other sites.

The General Services Administration's Federal Computer Acquisition Center (Fedcac) is managing the solicitation, evaluation and award of Telis.

DOE's plan to outsource all communications and networking services "is a different way of doing business. It approaches more what the commercial world is doing," according to an industry source who asked not to be named.

"It's almost like what GM does, where EDS does the entire outsourcing of GM communications worldwide [and] GM interferes very little. That's the model," said the source, who predicted that more agencies will start outsourcing telecommunications in a way similar to DOE.

The Telis contractor will act as an "on-site communications company" for DOE, said Stan Wujcik, a DOE communications specialist.

"Everything is in this contract because the technologies are mixing," he said. "We want the day-to-day operations of the networks and the planning for the future. You used to have a big, black line between voice and data, [but that] isn't the case anymore."

Only DOE headquarters will be required to use the contract. All other DOE sites, including DOE labs, are potential users. Wujcik said this framework provides an incentive for the contractor to produce innovative cost-savings to lure more DOE sites to the contract.

"The best thing that could happen to this contract would be if it hits its $600 million ceiling," Wujcik said. "But FTS 2000 was a good demonstration of how hard it is to dictate something to all people."

Twenty percent of the $600 million contract will be open to other agencies.

Like many recent solicitations from other agencies, the Telis RFP will incorporate streamlined procurement practices.

"We're going to start doing some of the new streamlining" acquisition techniques, said Steve Meltzer, director of Fedcac.

This will including pre-screening and oral presentations. "We're going to make awards relatively quickly after the bids come in," Meltzer said.

The final Telis RFP is expected about Aug. 23, with an award by next February.

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