USDA set to release EIS task order

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The Agriculture Department is about to issue a task order under the General Services Administration's $50 billion next-generation telecommunications contract, which will become part of the bedrock for USDA's continuing modernization effort, the agency's CIO said.

Although rumors of agencies releasing task orders under GSA's Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract have been common in the last few months, USDA's task order could be released within days, CIO Gary Washington told FCW at an ACT-IAC event on July 23.

In his remarks at the event, Washington said EIS is a fundamental component of his agency's efforts to transform its infrastructure. 

"We have 17 networks currently at USDA," he said. "We want to get down to one. We want to get to the point where it's a managed service and a hybrid of contractors and government…. We're very excited about some of the things -- such as modernization, improved performance and delivery of services -- that we're going to be able to provide."

"We have to complete this by 2023," he added, referring to GSA's deadline for agencies to transition to EIS.

Although Washington said USDA would use EIS to help modernize the agency, telecom carriers have said that so far, they have not seen EIS solicitations that seek to leverage the contract aggressively to address overall IT modernization.

USDA has been on the cutting edge of modernizing its facilities as well as its internal and public-facing services. It has been a lighthouse agency for the federal Centers of Excellence effort and has been rolling out public-facing services at Farmers.gov to make life easier for its customers in the field. Washington said the agency also plans to expand its mobile loan apps program.

The agency has its work cut out for it because of its extensive reach across the nation. It has offices in "every county in the country" Washington said. "We have a very strong need" to get internet access to facilities that are sometimes located in rural, underserved communities.

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


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