GSA widens telecom collaboration efforts

The first of three sessions on the NS2020 strategy provided a glimpse of industry concerns about the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

The General Services Administration has stepped up efforts to get industry collaboration to help develop its massive next-generation telecommunications contract.

On April 27, the agency convened the first in a series of public comment sessions on the initial contract that will be the foundation of its Network Services 2020 (NS2020) strategy for telecommunications services. That initial session was closed to the media, but the agency posted the presentation on a newly created website.

The meeting at GSA's headquarters in Washington was the first of three aimed at working more closely with industry on the ins and outs of the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, which will be the foundation of NS2020.

"The EIS Information Exchange Meeting on April 27 went very well," Fred Haines, EIS program manager in GSA's Office of Network Services Programs, told FCW. "From comments received, our industry partners are satisfied with our initial outreach."

"Our expectations for the May 28 and June 30 sessions are to dive deeper into industry's comments and recommendations and report back our analysis," he added.

After issuing the EIS draft request for proposals in February, the agency's mid-April comment deadline saw almost 1,600 comments and questions from industry and federal agencies concerning its RFP.

"GSA is committed to make sure the RFP we release this summer is complete and addresses needs of government and industry," Amando Gavino Jr., director of GSA's Office of Network Services Programs, told FCW. "If that means we release the RFP later than July to take more time to analyze input and enhance the document, we will."

In an April 27 blog post, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services, said that along with the next two meetings, the agency has also unveiled the NS2020 community on its Interact website to facilitate more collaboration on the effort.

In addition, the agency has begun planning one-on-one meetings with industry representatives to answer questions about the RFP. The hour-long sessions are being scheduled via teleconference and in person, according to GSA.

The slides posted on the EIS Interact site provide a glimpse of some of the questions the agency is fielding from industry about the complicated contract, ranging from pricing to technical issues. The draft RFP's Section C on Technical Service received 505 comments, the most of any of the document's 13 sections. It deals with myriad telecom services and infrastructure issues, including cloud, virtual private networks, voice, managed network services, cable and wiring, and access arrangements.

Common technical themes that emerged in the industry comments include advice on not over-complicating or over-specifying requirements, as well as observations that industry is moving away from circuit-switched services to IP solutions.

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