Acquisition

GSA looks at lessons learned from Networx contract

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Mary Davie, assistant commissioner at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service Office of Integrated Technology Services, says her agency has learned from both the successes and snags with the Networx contract.

GSA has posted reports on what it learned from the rocky transition to its complicated Networx telecommunications contract, saying it will keep those lessons at hand as it moves on future contracting plans.

In a March 10 blog post, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service Office of Integrated Technology Services, wrote that the FTS2001-to-Networx transition, completed about a year ago, took longer than expected. The agency posted two documents detailing what it learned in making the transition.

A Government Accountability Office study in late December said complex acquisition processes and weaknesses in project planning contributed to delays transitioning to Networx from the GSA's old FTS2001 contracts, resulting in cost increases and missed savings.

Even with the slow transition, Davie said Networx wound up saving more than $678 million in fiscal 2013, with agencies purchasing more than $1.3 billion through the contracting vehicle.

Beyond the savings, however, Davie said GSA has an opportunity to learn from the experience. "We recognize the need to apply lessons from the past to enhance future transition success. We've analyzed lessons learned over the past few years to plan better for a future transition and follow-on contract and program."

GSA is working to implement the recommendations in the GAO's report on Networx transition, she said.

Project planning, executive visibility, coordination between IT and acquisition personnel, managing complex acquisition processes to avoid duplicative efforts, and working to improve telecommunications expertise across government were among the lessons learned from the Networx transition, Davie said.

The two documents posted to the GSA website contain specifics the agency will consider as it moves ahead with its next telecommunications contracting framework, Network Services 2020, or NS2020. The agency said it is also working to create a "Lessons Learned" database that federal agencies can reference.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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