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FCW : January and February 2017
Networx is seeing that shift already, and Gavino said there is a concurrent shift away from TDM voice services to enterprisewide unified communica- tions services. “EIS is well-positioned to meet these shifts,” he added. “In fact, our purchasing trends on Networx influenced the requirements on EIS.” A sprawling, daunting process It’s a top priority at GSA to ensure that the transition to EIS goes smoothly. It is a sprawling, daunting process that covers 53 agency customers, more than 8,000 subagencies and some 16,000 cus- tomer accounts. The last big switch agencies had to make between GSA telecom contracts did not go smoothly. The transition from FTS 2001 to Networx took six years and ran up costs for everyone, cutting into the new contract’s effectiveness. In the process, agencies had to adapt to an increasingly dramatic technological shift in the larger world as traditional wireline telephone services accelerated toward digitally oriented, smartphone- centric and app-driven technology. Some agencies were not prepared for the technological leap. GSA is hoping to avoid such rough patches this time around with a three- year transition plan that Davie and Gavi- no said is well underway. Agencies must move their $2 billion in purchasing and 8 million services to EIS by March 2020. “Transition is scheduled for three years, whereas Networx was done in six years,” Gavino said. “That’s double the business volume in half the time. Transition is a critical project, and we are constantly looking for ways to miti- gate risks with the agencies.” Late last year, as proof of the progress the transition effort was making, Davie said GSA had successfully unified its 11 regional network services programs and offices into a single national program. In January, the agency issued a request for information on how to struc- ture transition contracts for those 11 regions. Officials are seeking input on their aggregated approach to full-service fair-opportunity evaluation, the kind of data fields that will help bidders, the trade-offs between “lowest price technically acceptable” and best-value contract approaches, and the minimum degree of service coverage needed to qualify for task orders. Keeping pace with future advances For the most part, bidders have been quiet about what they’re planning for EIS. However, Level 3 and Hughes, which have teamed up to bid on EIS, sponsored a public forum in Washing- ton last November to showcase what they can offer. Executives from both companies said they would use software-defined wide-area network technologies to pro- vide expandable bandwidth via a vari- ety of platforms. The team said a com- bination of wireless, satellite and cable technology can help support agencies’ scalable computing and storage needs. Gavino said GSA has anticipated how the contract will handle gallop- ing technological advances. “There will be change over the life of the EIS con- tract,” he said. “To ensure the ability for the contract to remain viable, we’ve incorporated capabilities such as ‘on- ramps’ for agencies to get access to new suppliers and technologies, as well as mandatory economic price adjust- ments [and] price resubmission by vendors every five years.” That approach dovetails with GSA’s category management initiatives, he added. Category management simplifies, standardizes and uses volume to streamline enterprisewide purchases, implementation and management of products in categories. Because tele- com is a subset of the IT category, Gavino said GSA developed EIS with extensive collaboration from indus- try and government so the contract would allow for continual improve- ment throughout its life cycle. “The contract’s structure was designed to provide greater flexibility to government in crafting [its] require- ments and allow far more vendor agil- ity in meeting those unique needs in a manner that best meets that vendor’s specific business model,” Gavino said. He added that GSA intends to keep moving forward on the path it’s build- ing for EIS as the Trump administration takes over. “Within GSA, our [IT cate- gory] mission will continue to include making IT [and] telecommunications acquisitions less costly, easier and more efficient and more effective and ben- eficial to the congressionally mandated missions of agencies across government that serve the American public,” he said. “EIS is a core part of our telecom- munications mission,” Gavino added, “and we look forward to working with the new administration in improving upon the nearly $700 million in sav- ings that the Networx contract achieves annually.” n January/February 2017 FCW.COM 27 Agencies must move their $2 billion in purchasing and 8 million services to EIS by March 2020. 0217fcw_026-027.indd 27 1/24/17 9:43 AM
November and December 2016