GSA looks to the next generation of telecom contracting

Mary Davie of the Office of Integrated Technology Services says the agency is prepping for a more complex and competitive future.

The General Services Administration's next-generation telecommunications strategy is moving ahead, driven by an emerging contracting vehicle and a vision for how telecom services will evolve over the next 15 years, said one of the agency's top technology acquisition officers.

In an April 30 blog post, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services, provided some insight into plans for the agency's Network Services 2020 telecom strategy, including the status of some of the plan's components.

Networx, GSA's current governmentwide telecom contracting vehicle, is set to expire in 2017. The agency, federal government and industry stakeholders have been crafting a more flexible and comprehensive way to address advancing telecom services. The NS2020 strategy is designed to enable GSA to meet a broad range of IT and telecom requirements through 2028.

Davie said the agency's aim for NS2020 is to evolve GSA's contracting capabilities as commercial and federal telecom markets move beyond hardware-based networks, owned legacy infrastructure and even cloud computing and mobile services toward more open and innovative services and technologies.

"Now we're seeing moves by others than the traditional telecommunications providers into the space, creating even greater changes in the market," she wrote. "This includes leveraging broadband wireless technology for data connectivity and voice service, relying solely on IP data connections for voice and text, and potentially using solar-powered drone technology in place of some traditional satellite capabilities to provide basic Internet access much cheaper to many more people."

GSA's request for information (RFI) for NS2020 Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, released April 8, will become the cornerstone of the strategy to provide telecom services for federal users. Davie said a draft request for proposals will be issued in fiscal 2015. With the release of the NS2020 strategy and the RFI, Davie said her agency is moving toward that more complex and competitive future. The strategy was constructed after an analysis resulted in a portfolio of IT and telecom-related offerings and services that could shape new contracts and solutions to replace the Networx program and other vehicles, she said.

In December 2013, GSA released an NS2020-related RFI for consolidated Northeast Infrastructure Solutions as part of an interim strategy to create three acquisition regions -- Northeast, Central and Western -- that would consolidate the current 11 regional contracts. Davie said officials plan to release RFIs for the other two regions this year.

The consolidation will give GSA, vendors and customer agencies an interim strategy -- driven in part by expiring contract vehicles -- to cover gaps in regional coverage, she added. It will also allow the agency to implement and validate some NS2020 concepts ahead of the larger integration.

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