Networx award dates pushed back

The Networx telecommunications contract will be awarded later than originally planned, said General Services Administration Administrator Stephen Perry.

Networx Universal, which will provide widespread services, will be awarded in July 2006, Perry said, speaking to an audience at an Industry Advisory Council luncheon. Networx Enterprise, providing a more limited range of localized services, will follow next September.

GSA had established April 2006 as the target date for awarding both contracts, but that was only a goal. Recently, the agency has twice extended the deadline for vendors to submit their bids, from early August to Oct. 5 for Universal and Oct. 7 for Enterprise.

An older Networx plan had called for awarding Enterprise -- then called Select -- nine months after Universal. Smaller companies protested that Universal contract holders could sign up most of the available business before the smaller contract was awarded, so GSA officials decided to award the contracts at the same time.

The new dates are closer than the first proposal, but the contracts would still come anywhere from five to 12 weeks apart, depending on when in July and September they are awarded.

But the plan has changed in other ways that keep the original competitive concerns from resurfacing, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting. Now agencies will choose in advance whether they plan to use Universal or Enterprise for their network services purchases.

"Given that, all it would mean is that an agency that wanted to use Enterprise would have to wait a few more weeks," he said.

Consultant Phil Kiviat of Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates said he does not believe the change in award dates will ultimately make a significant difference.

“I’ve kind of stopped remembering those dates because everything keeps changing," he said.

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