GSA will test Networx vendors' systems immediately

Immediately after the General Services Administration awards the Networx telecommunications contracts, winning vendors will begin testing their operation support systems (OSS) and security measures with GSA's assistance.

Speaking at the second Networx transition summit today, GSA officials outlined the steps the agency will take to facilitate the testing.

GSA will test vendors’ OSS to ensure they are capable of handling the contract’s ongoing demands, said Mark Provus, GSA telecom manager. Systems must be tested before they begin to process orders to avoid unexpected problems, he said.

"Our testing will signify to our [chief information officer’s] office that a vendor's system is in production," he said.

GSA's testing will not include some aspects of the systems, such as dispute resolution or quality-of-service standards, he added.

Provus said the testing will be divided into three phases. The first will focus on vendor-provided data. The second will use historical data agencies provide. The final phase will use current, on-site data.

GSA will test vendor systems for security measures. An internal working group has spent a year and a half developing the security testing procedures that GSA will use, said Karl Krumbholz, GSA's Networx program manager. The agency will review vendor security plans and will also certify and accredit vendor security systems under Federal Information Security Management Act standards, he said.

Agencies should not connect to any vendors’ OSS until it has been approved, said Anthony Konkwo, an information security systems manager in the Federal Acquisition Service's CIO office. After GSA has certified and accredited a system -- which Konkwo said will take three to five months to do for each system -- GSA will scan the systems quarterly to ensure they are still performing. That continuous monitoring is also required by FISMA.

Universal and Enterprise are the two parts of Networx, the 10-year telecom contract to be awarded later this year. Universal will provide a range of network and communications services nationwide, while Enterprise will offer a narrower range of services in limited geographic areas.

Konkwo said a holder of the Networx contracts who is using the same OSS for both will only need one certification and accreditation from GSA.

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