Execs talk about disconnect in Networx transition

Telecom companies said they've invested a lot of money in meeting the requirements of the Networx contract, but that money can be washed away quickly when demands change.

Telecommunications industry executives said May 10 that their companies have invested much money in meeting the requirements in the Networx contract but that money can be washed away quickly as demands change inside the government.

Industry and government often don't have the necessary discussions about changes in requirements and even what the future of telecom looks like, Diane Gowen, senior vice president and general manager at Qwest Government Service, said during a panel discussion at the Integrated Technology Service Networks Services Conference on May 10 hosted by the General Services Administration.

Because of the companies’ investments, the government should not be quick to toss out requirements, like the operations support systems, said Peter Pin, regional vice president at Verizon Federal.

During the session, executives and federal officials talked frankly about their frustrations with Networx and the future of what's included in the next contract.

Karl Krumbholz, director of networks services programs at GSA, said the companies need to keep up with changes in their government customers’ demands. He added that industry can’t simply tell agencies what they offer and leave it at that and can't limit the government’s options for meeting its missions.

But, before the telecom contract gets more agility and flexibility, which all the panelists agreed the next Networx contract needs, things will only get tougher and more complex, said Mike Ponti, director of strategic resources planning in the Defense Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and member of the Interagency Management Council Executive Committee.

Both sides have to understand what each other mean when they articulate their needs and requirements. Contractors and government officials can use the same term but mean different things, Ponti said.

When they get on the same page, telecom transitions will be simpler, he said.

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