Telecommunications

How GSA does oversight on EIS

fiber optics and switches (PeterPhoto123/Shutterstock.com) 

The General Services Administration is pushing agencies to meet a looming March deadline to award their task orders under its $50 billion, 15-year, next generation telecommunications contract.

March 31 is GSA's target for agencies to award their telecommunications contracts under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract or face limited access to existing telecommunications contracts.

A spokesman told FCW that said GSA asks for weekly updates from agencies' transition teams, including details on timeline, scope and status of activities for completing the acquisition phase and proceeding through the implementation phase.

"Ultimately, the final steps of the transition are contingent upon agency budgets and oversight from the agencies' senior procurement executives and chief information officers," the spokesperson said. "GSA will continue to partner with agencies to do all that we can to help them transition."

GSA wanted agencies to issue their EIS task orders by Sept. 30. Some large agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, have yet to issue them, however.

On March 31, GSA will limit use of existing Networx and local services agreements (LSAs) contracts for agencies that haven't issued task orders. GSA had originally set March 2020 as the expiration for Networx and LSAs, but extended it to May 31, 2023 because agencies as federal agencies were slow to issue their initial EIS solicitations.

The spokesperson said GSA is "focused on working with agencies to award" task orders by the deadline and is underlining the importance of having enough time to transition their networks before Networx and the LSAs expire.

Congress included some advice in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations package passed last December. The guidance originated in the House Appropriations Committee, industry sources told FCW, and highlights opportunities to "receive best value by logically grouping together relevant services in multiple fair opportunity task orders, as opposed to limiting competition by awarding unrelated services to a single service provider that provides the broadest array of products and services."

Appropriators also directed GSA, "to instruct each agency to adopt and updated transition management plan and an integrated transition timeline, as recommended by [the Government Accountability Office]."

GSA said it welcomes the advice.

"Legislative guidance that encourages agencies to transition to EIS before the current contracts expire should be a helpful incentive to completing this effort," the spokesperson said.

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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