The General Services Administration (GSA) currently manages telecommunications acquisition programs that provide close to $2 billion of services annually to more than 130 government agencies. The current generation of national and regional programs—including Networx, WITS3 and more than 80 Local Service Agreements—will expire in 2020. GSA is in the process of establishing a single new program, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), to replace all of these. EIS is planned to serve as a flexible, solution-oriented vehicle that will allow agencies to define, acquire and manage the networks serving their individual mission needs over its 15 year contract life.
However, to take advantage of the power of the EIS program, agencies must master the details of its contracting approach, which does not mirror that of its predecessor programs. From its vendor-unique mix of offerings and service availability, to its innovative pricing approaches, and use of a formalized task-order approach with delegation of procurement authority from GSA to the buying agency, EIS is “Not your father’s GSA telecom contract”! Is your agency ready to use EIS?
|Services||40+ Mandatory||4 Mandatory||Less certainty of viable bidders for integrated enterprise solutions; may limit competition for your business|
|Labor||N/A||Optional||More solution flexibility, but potentially more complexity to manage|
|Equipment||Mandatory||Optional||May need/want to buy/manage equipment separately|
|Local Voice||N/A||Optional||More complex transition with local voice lines moved/retired/transformed|
|Cloud/SDN||N/A||Optional||New opportunities to integrate/take advantage of virtualization|
|Price Basis||FP and ICB CLINS||Adds: TUCS, PHubs, Catalogs||New pricing concepts and options add flexibility but require additional considerations/complexities for comparing and evaluating prices|
|Service Availability||Nationwide by Wire Center||Vendor-Specific||Many locations may not be pre-priced; incumbent vendors may not offer service at all of your locations, you will need to negotiate/evaluate|
|Order Basis||CLIN and TO||Structured TO||More control/flexibility but greater effort for evaluation/management|
|Transition||6 year actual||3 year planned||Greater scrutiny from oversight bodies; more pressure to meet timelines|
Compounding the complexity of transitioning from present-day GSA programs to EIS is the ongoing evolution of telecommunications technologies and services. The commercial service provider networks underlying agency communications are already transforming—retiring older, copper-based services in favor of newer wireless, IP, Ethernet, and fiber optic technologies—and introducing virtualization with software control to gain flexibility and cost efficiencies. There will be no “status quo” for current agency network solutions moving forward; they will transform as well. Do you know what that will mean for your network?
Transition from one contract to another can be the most difficult period for a government network. The transition to GSA’s Networx program from its predecessor FTS2001 program was planned to last 39 months but took 72, costing GSA an additional $66M in program costs, and agencies an estimated $329M in unrealized savings, bringing significant scrutiny on all parties from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Many lessons were learned in that transition that have been applied to the planning for the transition to EIS, which is scheduled for completion in 36 months. However, new aspects of the EIS program—including the differences in contracting approach, the need to transition from many contracts to one, and the inevitability of technology/services transformation during the EIS life cycle—will ensure that there will be no simple “like-for-like” transitions this time around. The transition to EIS will remain inherently risky. Are you prepared to identify and mitigate the risks to your network and transition schedule?
No agency wants to face unwanted scrutiny from oversight bodies, to have churn in their acquisition process, or to have their transition delayed by a protest. Even more importantly, no agency wants to end up with a solution that doesn’t meet their mission needs, can’t’ be evolved, or lacks the quality, availability, reliability and resilience they need.
Agency network solutions have become more complex, and a wide range of expertise is needed to effectively define, architect, specify, acquire, implement, and manage them. Noblis provides the full range of capabilities needed to smooth agencies’ path to success in the transition to EIS and beyond, including:
Hugo is a Senior Manager with an extensive background in telecom, full lifecycle acquisition, and program development.
Jim is an account and project manager with expertise in the areas of telecommunications, acquisitions, and cloud and mobile strategies.
Bill is the leader of the Noblis Acquisition Tools Center of Excellence.
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