Vendors still have questions as $50B telecom deadline approaches

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Only days before the deadline for proposals for its upcoming $50 billion next-generation telecommunications contract, the General Services Administration continues to handle questions from potential bidders and agency customers about the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract. But GSA has also begun to pivot to transitioning to the new vehicle.

Bids on the EIS contract are due by Feb. 22, yet the agency continues to receive last-minute questions about pricing tables and other minutia contained in the 890-page request for proposals. GSA officials said they have fielded 1,600 questions about the contract in eight amendment filings since the RFP was released last October. About 1,200 questions were from potential bidders, and 400 were from potential agency customers, according to GSA. The most recent responses were posted on Feb. 12.

Sources knowledgeable about the contract said potential bidders could include obvious telecom and Internet service providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, Sprint, BT, Level 3 Communications and Windstream Communications, and also systems integrator Harris and MetTel, a New York City-based managed solutions provider that opened an office in Washington in November.

As the deadline for bids closes in, GSA has begun clearing a path for federal agencies to finalize their plans to move from the old Networx contract to EIS. One of the initial steps was conducting inventory validations at federal agencies to clarify and confirm the services currently used. Those validations were completed on Jan. 29, two days ahead of schedule, said Debbie Hren, network services transition director in GSA's Office of Network Services Programs.

In a presentation at the Federal Networks 2016 conference on Feb. 17, Hren said the inventory found 7.5 million services in use at 200 agencies that were split between Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3, regional local service agreements and Networx. The majority of services -- 6 million -- were under Networx.

Hren and other GSA officials want agencies to form integrated transition teams by March that include a senior agency executive, a telecom program manager and an acquisition representative. By October, the teams must confirm their agencies' inventory validations and complete their transition plans, Hren said.

GSA's goal is to have the transition to EIS halfway complete by January 2019 and fully complete by March or May 2020, she added.

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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