How carriers prove they are up to the EIS challenge

Telecom companies that won places on the $50 billion EIS contract must demonstrate their back-office capabilities for GSA.

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Telecommunications companies that won spots on the General Services Administration's $50 billion next-generation telecom contract are working to ensure that their back-office capabilities meet the agency's needs.

GSA chose AT&T, BT Federal, CenturyLink, Core Technologies, Granite Telecommunications, Harris, Level 3 Communications, Manhattan Telecommunications, MicroTech and Verizon as vendors for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract on Aug. 1.

During a conference call with reporters the day after the awards were announced, Bill Zielinski, deputy assistant commissioner for IT category management at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said the companies have work to do before they can put federal agency traffic on their networks.

Under the contract, providers have a year to finalize their support systems for activities such as centralized billing and ordering, which GSA must review and approve, he added.

Deirdre Murray, an independent consultant in the federal contracting space, told FCW that "the next key phase of GSA's recently awarded 15-year EIS contract is testing and validation of contractors' back-office systems."

"There's back and forth between us and the GSA," said Lisa Crawford Bruch, vice president of sales and marketing at CenturyLink.

Erich Sanchack, senior vice president and general manager of CenturyLink Federal Solutions, added that the GSA review is not unusual for a contract of such importance and breadth.

A GSA spokesman told FCW that the agency has chosen Java Productions Inc. to conduct the reviews of contractors' back-office systems.

Contracting intelligence firm Deltek said JPI was awarded a small-business set-aside contract under the Historically Underutilized Business Zones program and GSA’s Schedule 70 last November. The contract has a ceiling of $4.2 million.

So far, $911,000 of that amount has been spent, according to Deltek. The contract runs through September 2020.

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