EIS Targets Easier, More Comprehensive IT Procurements
The Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, awarded at the end of July 2017, is the latest in a line of procurement vehicles intended to meet federal agencies’ network and telecommunications needs.
As government works to transform itself to meet the demands of an increasingly unpredictable future, the EIS contract is key. The result of three years of intensive talks and collaboration between agencies, industry and the Government Services Administration (GSA), which manages the contract, EIS will “set the foundation for government IT modernization,” according to the GSA.
EIS “will make it much easier and more affordable for the government to make needed improvements to its telecom and IT systems, today and into the future,” Mary Davie, deputy commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), said when the contract was awarded.
The current line of contracts began as far back as 1963, when the GSA was given the responsibility of providing the federal government with competitive long-distance phone service, along with low-speed data and fax services, primarily using leased analog systems. That changed in the late 1980s as digital technology became available, allowing for higher-speed data transmission at lower costs.
That resulted in the Federal Telecommunications Systems (FTS) 2000 contract, awarded at the end of 1988, providing agencies with an array of switched voice and high-speed data and video services. It was made mandatory for use by all federal agencies.
The line evolved through FTS2001, which expired in January 2007, and on to the two-pronged, 10-year Networx contract — Networx Universal and Networx Enterprise — which was designed to provide agencies with a broad-based, best-value selection of telecommunications and IT services they could fit to their unique, mission-critical needs.
EIS replaces 93 separate Networx, Regional Local Telecommunications Services (LSAs) and Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) contracts. It’s slated to offer telecom, IT and network services to agencies for 15 years, via a five-year base period and two five-year options. With a total potential ceiling of $50 billion, each of the ten awardees on the contract will get a guaranteed minimum of $75 million in revenue.
EIS is more of an evolution of Networx than a straight replacement. It keeps or improves such well-received features as pre-qualified contractors, pre-defined key performance indicators and service level agreements, safe harbor provision, and support of federal mandates such as FISMA, IPv6, Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS), and National Security Emergency Preparedness (NSEP) requirements.
The new elements in EIS are all designed to give agencies more reliability and flexibility in how they choose and fit the various services on offer to their unique mission requirements. They include:
- Fewer entry requirements, such as having just four mandatory services versus 36 in Network Universal, along with a more relaxed requirement for geographic coverage
- Fewer pre-defined contract line item numbers (CLINs)
- Service areas that include optional and emerging technologies
- Reduced need for contract modifications and more flexibility for agency buyers, with procurement authority delegated to agency contracting officers
- Mandatory resubmission of prices every five years
- An “on-ramp” capability that allows for easy addition of new technology and services to the contract
- A lower fee of 4.5 percent, with total fees capped at $200 million per vendor, compared to 7 percent for both Networx and FTS2001
In order to allow agencies to become as familiar as possible with EIS and to help with their transition to the new contract, GSA has extended the Networx and Regional Local Telecommunications Services (LSAs) to March-May 2020.