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FCW : April 30, 2015
The comment period for a piece of the General Services Administration’s next-generation telecommunications strategy ended March 31 — the same day that the comment period for the agency’s draft Alliant 2 government- wide acquisition contract began. The comment deadline for the request for proposals for GSA’s Enter- prise Infrastructure Solutions contract marks a turning point for the vehicle that is expected to be the foundation of the agency’s $50 billion Network Services 2020 telecom strategy. Even though EIS and Alliant 2 are distinct contracting efforts aimed at different needs, analysts said they provide some interesting overlaps and contrasts. Jennifer Sakole, a principal analyst at Deltek Federal Information Solu- tions, said Alliant is a successful, known quantity for acquiring inno- vative IT services and includes some telecom solutions. EIS is the agency’s effort to keep up with advancing tele- com capabilities while supporting fed- eral agencies’ legacy operations. “It’s a tale of two contracting meth- ods,” said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners. “NS2020 is a new model aimed at offering cutting-edge solutions,” while Alliant 2 is based on a popular, proven entity for IT services and solutions. And the lines between IT and telecom services have been blurring since digi- tal IP-based communications began. “There is an artificial barrier between telecommunications and IT contracting,” Allen said. And as the two merge, there are no easy answers for GSA’s efforts to buy either. Sakole said EIS will provide a range of telecom services and infrastructure offerings, but it is a complicated plat- form that requires legacy support of aging systems as well as cutting-edge capabilities, such as cloud. Some potential EIS bidders told FCW that the draft RFP was extremely complex, and the 30-day turnaround for comments was challenging. However, they gave GSA credit for talking to the public about EIS for some time, much like the back- and-forth on the One Acquisition Solu- tion for Integrated Services and Alliant contracts. They also wondered why EIS had not garnered a section on GSA’s Inter- act dashboard, which other contracts such as Alliant and OASIS used to power their development with pub- lic interaction. Sakole said the government wants more systems integrators to balance out the established telecom carriers, but added, “I’m curious about who will [bid on] EIS.” Systems integrators would have to provide legacy voice and data services, which could be a tall order for companies that do not have an established telecom infrastructure, she said. n BY MARK ROCKWELL Industry experts say there are some interesting contrasts between GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract and Alliant 2 ‘A tale of two contracting methods’ 28 April 30, 2015 FCW.COM DrillDown NS2020 is a new contract model for telecom, while Alliant 2 is based on a popular, proven entity for IT services and solutions. And the lines between IT and telecom services have been blurring since digital IP-based communications began. 0430fcw_028.indd 28 4/3/15 4:19 PM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015