Q&A with Amando Gavino of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service
Though EIS is a follow-on of sorts from Networx, it differs significantly in a number of ways. Amando Gavino, director of the Office of Telecommunications Services in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, described what went into the design of EIS, and what that means for government users.
What influenced you the most in the initial stages of putting the EIS contract together?
Networx was very successful in reducing prices paid by federal agencies for telecom services, and the EIS team wanted to improve upon that. Networx included mandatory geographical coverage and 36 mandatory services that limited competition to only the very large Tier 1 carriers. To dramatically increase the potential supplier pool, EIS reduced the minimum geographic coverage and required only four mandatory services – all other services were optional. That helped drive additional and significant competition in the EIS acquisition which resulted in awards to a larger pool of ten suppliers. Additionally, EIS achieved on average a 21 percent reduction of prices from existing Networx prices.
In what way does EIS simplify the process that agencies use to acquire telecom and IT products and services?
EIS is a solutions-based contract, which allows an agency to use a single source to buy a full array of services and solutions. This means that agencies use one contract to get a full solution instead of piecing it together through multiple contract vehicles, requiring additional costs and effort to integrate and manage those contracts in order to get to a good outcome. EIS also incorporated new innovative solutions that reduced the overall number of Contract Line Items (CLIN). This reduces the need for suppliers to add contract modifications and provides agencies greater control of the ordering process at the task order level. These are features that our stakeholders, both industry and federal customers, told us would be valuable and enhance the usability and flexibility of the EIS contract.
Why does EIS stress the procurement of integrated solutions?
The commercial market has evolved and there’s no longer a clear distinction between telecommunications and other IT services, making integration extremely important and the key to successful outcomes for agencies. EIS was designed to provide integrated solutions in recognition of this, but also because of the buying patterns we saw on Networx, and the feedback gathered through collaboration with agencies during the Network Services 2020 (to later become EIS) strategy formulation.
The scope of EIS allows for suppliers to provide services and solutions in a way that best meets their own business models. What does this mean?
Each EIS supplier bundles service-related enhancements, features, and functionality into its own unique offering. The EIS contract allows for these different approaches from each supplier and doesn’t force customers to do direct apples-to-apples comparisons which could stifle innovation, unnecessarily alter supplier offerings, or negatively impact pricing efficiencies for agencies.
“Flexibility” and “agility” are words that come up frequently in the descriptions of EIS. What advantages does this provide for EIS users?
A combination of features offer suppliers the agility they need to propose solutions unique to their individual business models, and provides agencies greater control and flexibility in specifying and managing their specific requirements. Suppliers can propose solutions that combine CLINS, or create new CLINS, to satisfy those requirements according to best commercial practices. Unlike previous GSA telecommunications vehicles that required any/all agency specific CLINs be added to the contract, EIS eliminates the need for those type of contract modifications.
GSA also developed five EIS Service Catalogs: Service Related Equipment, Managed Security Services, Cloud Services, Commercial Satellite Service and Wireless.
Catalogs allow suppliers to update their individual offerings at any time and a contract modification is only required if a new discount class CLIN is required. This further eliminates the need for contract modifications that in the past have delayed agency implementations.