Acquisition

Vendors say EIS deadlines should shift because of shutdown

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The month-long partial government shutdown has made some of the deadlines set for solicitations on the five-year, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions unrealistic, according to contract vendors and analysts.

"It's at an awkward point. They don't want to extend, but they'll have to," said Bob Woods, former commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service.

Deadlines for agency EIS solicitations were announced as part of a three-year extension to the Networx and Washington Interagency Telecommunications System contracts granted last December.

Under the plan, agencies have until March 31 to release their EIS solicitations, with the first task order coming by the end of September.

Those deadlines still stand after the 35-day shutdown that saw eight agencies completely closed and others partially affected.

The extension was granted in the first place because agencies were already slow in issuing solicitations. The month-long shutdown is exacerbating the problem at many agencies, and the March deadline is likely to yield uneven results, vendors and analysts said.

"The March 31 and September 30 deadlines are not doable," after the month-long shutdown, said David Young, senior vice president of strategic government at EIS contractor CenturyLink in an interview with FCW on Feb. 5.

"The March 31 deadline was onerous to begin with. Now it's even worse," said Jim Williams, partner at Schambach & Williams Consulting and a former Federal Acquisition Service commissioner.

In December, Bill Zielinski, deputy assistant commissioner of the Office of Information Category in GSA's Federal Acquisition Service told agencies that meeting the deadlines was critical to the process. He urged them to redouble their EIS planning and not assume the extension reduced the urgency.

Young said there are "hundreds" of fair-opportunity solicitations in the works at agencies, but the uneven impact of the shutdown on those agencies had an equally uneven impact on their solicitations.

Young said he expects those solicitations to arrive but said he's still waiting for the "tsunami" of solicitations predicted months ago to arrive.

ATOs on track

CenturyLink, according to Young, still expects to hear back from GSA in April about authority-to-operate certification, but it's unclear if the agency will award ATOs in separate tranches or to all nine vendors at the same time.

In December, Zielinski said he expected the first ATOs for vendors to be issued in the second quarter of 2019.

ATOs are needed before agencies can make awards, and for vendors they're akin to a receiving a hunting license to go out and try to bag contracting wins.

That's still the plan for now. "GSA and our EIS industry partners stayed fully engaged during the shutdown, and we still estimate that the first ATOs will be issued in the second quarter of FY19," an agency spokesman told FCW in an emailed statement.

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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