Contracting

Round 1 of EIS task orders expected in October

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The General Services Administration has aggregated the web planning sites all of the 10 winners of its $50 billion next-generation telecommunications contract at its Interact site, providing agencies with a more comprehensive view of what services they can get and how to get them.

GSA's Interact site posted the vendor web resources on Sept. 13. The sites provide lists of services, pricing and planning options such as the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, that can help federal agency contracting personnel make preliminary assessments of what IT products and services they might need.

A little over a month ago, GSA chose AT&T, BT Federal, CenturyLink, Core Technologies, Granite Telecommunications, Harris, Level 3 Communications, MetTel, MicroTech and Verizon as vendors for the $50 billion, 15-year Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

Since then, the winning bidders have been working to get their back-office support systems reviewed by GSA auditors, as well as to obtain the necessary Authority to Operate under the contract.

Providers have a year to get their backend support systems, such as those for centralized billing and ordering processes, in place and approved by GSA, Bill Zielinski, deputy assistant commissioner for category management in the agency's Federal Acquisition Service, said in August.

CenturyLink delayed its acquisition of fellow EIS winner Level 3 until the end of October to accommodate a judge's ruling that it wait for the California Public Utilities Commission's approval at an Oct. 12 meeting. However, a CenturyLink spokeswoman told FCW in an email that the delay in the acquisition timeline hasn't slowed CenturyLink's work to obtain the needed Authority to Operate under EIS.

Carriers are anticipating the first task orders for EIS services from federal agencies to be issued in October. Representatives of EIS vendors have told FCW that next month could see a deluge of the orders, potentially taxing the resources of even the largest providers. GSA is reportedly working with agencies to spread out some of the orders.

"We're ready for task orders, but if we get a tsunami of 20 to 30 all at once, we'll have to pick and choose" which ones to respond to, one provider executive told FCW.

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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