OMB gives Networx a boost

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OMB Memo

The Office of Management and Budget has made it harder for agencies to use contract vehicles other than the General Services Administration’s Networx program for services that Networx offers.

In a memo released Aug. 28, OMB said agencies must use Networx for services that they had been getting through FTS 2001, as they move from the old contract to the new one. In the future, agencies will have to perform a cost/benefit analysis to justify using contracts other than Networx for new requirements.

The memo leaves little wiggle room for agencies to sidestep it, said analyst Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting.

“The first thing it says is, ‘thou shalt.’ There’s no ambiguity here,” he said. The memo also addresses OMB’s Trusted Internet Connections initiative. GSA is adding TIC-related services to the Networx program, and the OMB memo urges agencies to use the contracts for TIC, requiring a cost/benefit justification for taking another course.

GSA’s earliest attempt at a governmentwide telecommunications program, FTS 2000, was mandatory. FTS 2001, the successor to FTS 2001 was not. Networx originally was not, but the OMB guidance changes that, Suss said.

“For any replacements for FTS 2001, it is virtually saying mandatory use,” he said. “Then, for the Trusted Internet Connections, the approach they’re taking is that they’re putting up speed bumps for agencies that are using other solutions. Basically, they’re blessing the Networx services.”

Consultant Phil Kiviat, a partner with Guerra and Kiviat, said OMB’s move is intended to make it difficult for agencies to choose any contract other than Networx.

“Agencies will now have to do paperwork — studies, economic analyses, etc. — that they perhaps should have done but weren’t necessarily required to,” he said. “I can’t see how it will interfere with transition work very much.”

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, issued the memo. The decision was based on a cost/benefit analysis the CIO Council conducted, according to Evans.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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