Update – The awards have been announced, and EIS vendors will include the following 10 firms:
- BT Federal
- Core Technologies
- Granite Telecommunications
- Harris Corp.
- Level 3 Communications
- Manhattan Telecommunications (MetTel)
With the award of the GSA’s massive, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contracts due this spring, federal agencies have reportedly already begun planning their transitions from the Networx family of contracts to EIS. Considering that GSA recommended transition planning as far back as 2015, prior to even a draft RFP for EIS, and some of the pains that agencies experienced in the drawn-out transition from FTS2001 to Networx, it is likely a smart move to start the transition now, prior to the 2020 deadline set for agencies.
FTS2001 was launched in the 1990’s as a replacement telecommunications services program for the FTS2000 program of the 1980’s. During that transition, FCW has noted that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) took the lead in moving agencies from the FTS2000 program to FTS2001, and this allowed for a successful move to the new contracts. Contracts were awarded to Sprint in December 1998, and MCI in January 1999, as well as smaller contracts for local telecommunications services to companies including AT&T and Qwest.
By 2003, GSA began planning for the transition to a new program, Networx, which John Johnson explained as, “While FTS 2001 focused on pennies per minute [for long-distance calls], Networx will focus on securing vast amounts of information around the world.” Combining new and old services for agencies, in a contract that would also prepare for future requirements, spurred GSA to specifically outline goals for the transition between programs, including minimizing transition impact and expenses. Unfortunately, the Networx transition was facing delays from the beginning.
The Networx Enterprise vehicle, which included voice and data services, land mobile radio, as well as application and security services, was awarded to AT&T, Verizon Business Services (originally MCI, the incumbent, until merging with Verizon in 2006), CenturyLink (then-known as Quest Government Services), Level 3 Communications, and Sprint Nextel Corporation (then-known as Sprint Corporation) in May 2007. Networx Universal, with broader geographic coverage and satellite services, was awarded to AT&T, Verizon Business Services, and CenturyLink in March 2007. According to the GAO, these 2007 award dates were already past the end dates of the original FTS2001 contracts, forcing agencies to sign “bridge contracts” with Sprint and MCI in 2006 and with AT&T in 2009.
A GAO report on the Networx transition reported that it took a total of 72 months, 33 more months than GSA originally planned, to finally transition from the FTS2001 services in 2013. According to GAO, the transition program ended up costing $217.9 million, $66 million more than GSA expected, and agencies spent $1.2 billion on FTS2001 services between 2010 and 2013 due to the delay.
Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)
Even before the Networx transition was complete in 2013, GSA already began planning for the next program. Planning for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions awards in 2017, with a 3-year transition into 2020, GSA awarded extensions to the Networx program in 2015, so that contracts originally expiring in 2017 would be pushed to 2020. With hard deadlines, a procurement schedule, and a GSA-written agency transition guide in place, GSA released a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2015. According to the RFP, service areas include but are not limited to:
- Data service
- Voice service
- Cloud service
- Wireless service
- Commercial satellite communications service
- Service related equipment
- and Cable and wiring
With a growing demand for services, including in emerging fields like the cloud, where the USDA thinks EIS will help them modernize, the transition will present challenges which the GSA is hopefully prepared to face. If all goes to plan, expect to see a steady build-up of agency task order awards beginning in 2018, after the EIS contracts are awarded in the coming months of 2017.
For a deeper look at Networx, and up-to-date tracking of EIS contract holders and task order awards, use EZGovOpps to build a solid understanding of GSA procurement. With actionable market intelligence, companies are better prepared for teaming, subcontracting, and on-ramp opportunities.
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