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New Year: New Focus on EIS Transition Planning

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

In my last blog post, we talked about the government’s Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) networking trends and activity as evidenced by GSA’s widely used Networx contract.

Last year was also a breakout year for the government’s new telecommunications initiative: Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) acquisition. EIS will be the follow-on contract to replace Networx and regional telecommunications contracts (including WITS 3), which many federal agencies use today. When fully implemented, we expect EIS to:

  • Simplify the government’s process of acquiring information technology and telecommunications products and services
  • Provide cost savings to each agency through aggregated volume buying and price and spend visibility
  • Enable the procurement of integrated solutions
  • Promote participation by small businesses and foster competition
  • Offer a flexible and agile suite of services supporting a range of government purchasing patterns into the future
  • Provide updated and expanded security services to meet current and future government cybersecurity requirements

Government and industry collaborated quite a bit on EIS requirements and planning in FY15. GSA engaged industry, worked with federal partners, held three well-attended industry days, and issued the EIS Request for Proposal (RFP), with proposals due February 22.

Focus on Transition Planning in 2016

Going into 2016, one of the government’s biggest priorities for telecom is planning the transition of services from expiring Networx and regional contracts to EIS.

Validating the current inventory of services on Networx, WITS 3 and other regional contracts requires joint collaboration of GSA, federal agencies, and industry partners.

GSA’s Transition Coordination Center (TCC) completed the initial inventory validation on January 29. We compared multiple data sources and worked with the contractors to match up services and reconcile data.

We  then notified  the agencies on January 29 that the Transition Inventory is ready for their initial confirmation and use in transition planning. Throughout the transition period, GSA will continue working with agencies and industry partners to maintain a valid and current transition inventory for tracking transition progress.

Each agency’s transition inventory consists of “service instances,” which are single records representing each active service that will be impacted by the expiration of the contract it’s on.  By today’s count, there are over seven million service instances that have to be transitioned to EIS before the current contracts expire by May 2020.

Important Steps Agencies Must Take Now

We’ve worked extensively with the agency users of Networx and our regional Local Service Agreements (LSAs) to complete the initial validation of the transition inventory.  These are the steps we’ve followed and guidance given:

  1. Download your agency’s transition inventory from the existing E-MORRIS web application. There is a separate module within E-MORRIS titled “Transition Inventory” that will allow agency users, as authorized by their existing E-MORRIS profile, to see their transition inventory, that will consist of Networx and regional inventory.
  2. Review your transition inventory for completeness and provide feedback to the GSA TCC following the instructions provided by the TCC.
  3. Continue to develop your Agency Transition Plan and continue transition planning. Refer to the EIS webpage for further transition updates and guidance or contact your Technology Service Manager.

Successful inventory validation now will assist agencies with more focused planning in advance of award of the EIS contracts. This will help expedite a smoother transition for each government agency starting next year.

You can reach the TCC by contacting the IT Customer Service Center at 855-482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.

Are you following ITS on Twitter? If not, join us at @GSA_ITS for updates and to engage us on government IT acquisition topics.

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Looking at Year-End Telecommunications Insights from Networx

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/

In FY15, federal agencies purchased $1.62 billion in network and telecommunication services under GSA’s Networx program. This reflects a 6.3% increase over FY14. Much of the increase was driven by demand for bandwidth, which more than offset declines in purchasing of legacy services like long distance voice, toll-free services, and other obsolete data-oriented services.

The source of the purchasing numbers is Networx billing data. On behalf of federal agencies, GSA operates a billing and inventory system for telecommunications services. These systems allow us to see purchase and price trends for every federal agency as well as the program as a whole.

Overall in FY15, more than 120 federal agencies used the Networx program, which consists of the Networx Universal and Network Enterprise contracts.

Beyond purchasing, a significant milestone in FY15 was the decision to extend the Networx contracts to four of the five Networx suppliers to FY20. This extension gives federal agencies time to transition to the next generation network and telecommunications acquisition – Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – which is currently an active solicitation. And, the Networx contracting and program offices are using this extension period to continue ensuring our agencies pay not only fair and reasonable prices but better than commercial (in most cases) for services.

Annual Networx Buying Trends

As in FY14, the two largest in-demand core services on Networx continued to be Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (NBIPVPN) and Managed Network Services (MNS), making up 48% and nearly 12% respectively of Networx purchases.  NBIPVPN is simply bandwidth, designed for use within an enterprise.

Demand for these two services continues to grow. Government agencies increased purchasing of bandwidth by 12% and managed network services by 3% in FY15 over FY14. But, the growth trend on these two services tapered from past years. In FY14, the year-over-year growth trends for these two services were 17% for both services.

The real interest around bandwidth purchasing is a trend away from the digital signal hierarchy (DS-1, DS-3) towards Ethernet services. The most common circuit in the federal inventory is the DS-1. However, the number of these low bandwidth circuits dropped by 5.9% in FY15 and for the past five years has a negative compound annual growth rate of 4.1%. Conversely, the growth rate associated with 100MBps Ethernet transport circuits grew by nearly 100% in FY15 compared to FY14. We believe this trend will continue and are acting proactively to ensure our pricing is fair and reasonable given the buying power of the federal government.

Evolving Security Needs

One of the bigger growth areas on Networx was security. Network security is a fundamental component of information technology security. The Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS) grew at nearly 36% from FY14 to FY15 and the five-year compound annual growth rate is 209%.

MTIPS is a unique service to the government and combines bandwidth and security services. GSA continues to have productive working relationships in the federal IT community to enhance MTIPS. And, we expect demand for MTIPS to continue to grow faster than the rate of Networx as a whole.

Security services, like MTIPS, constantly evolve. They will continue to do so on Networx and on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), which is the follow-on contract vehicle for Networx, the Regional Local Service Agreements (LSAs), and other current contracts. EIS will have a suite of advanced security services in addition to MTIPS.

FY14 to FY15 year-over-year purchase increases are shown below for some of Networx core services:

Highlights of Networx Purchases by Service from FY14 through FY15 Percentage Growth (FY14 to FY15) Percentage of Networx Purchases
Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network Service 12.1% 48.4%
Managed Network Services 3.2% 11.6%
Toll Free Services -7.5% 7.5%
Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS) 35.9% 1.7%

Delivering Cost Savings

One of the missions of GSA is to use the purchasing power of government to drive down prices and reduce costs for agencies. GSA closely and continually evaluates how Networx is meeting this mission, especially around the area of pricing. In FY15, the Networx program saved taxpayers and agency users approximately $670 million on telecommunications, compared to best commercial prices.

GSA calculates savings by keeping and using detailed Networx data on both the services agencies purchase and agency usage volume. Third-party market research allows us to compare best commercial rates for these services to Networx pricing. If you are interested in seeing current year pricing by service on Networx, please visit our Networx Unit Pricer.

Going forward, we will continue to closely evaluate prices paid for services. Through effective data collection, we closely track purchasing by supplier, by service, and by agency. And, based on this data and the subsequent analysis, we will act on opportunities for savings through effective supplier management.

This practice will continue throughout the life of Networx as well as subsequent acquisitions within the Network Services Program.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the government IT and networks conversation.

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Satellite Solutions on Course

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

Satellites Make a Difference

Use of commercial satellite systems continue to give government the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of Americans. Defense and other systems can monitor global events and rapidly implement communications infrastructure almost immediately without advance resource and lead-time commitments.

We depend on satellite solutions more and more to meet critical warfighter and disaster recovery communications requirements. In addition, satellites provide network diversity and resilience in the event that a terrestrial-based network fails.

We rely on satellites for weather alerts, search and recovery, shipboard and maritime navigation, distance learning and training, and many scientific and research programs depend on commercial satellite capacity.

SATCOM also supports additional remote and mobile applications in the areas of humanitarian relief, disaster-response communications, and counter terrorism efforts.

Satellite Use, by the Numbers

Use of commercial satellite services in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) by government under GSA-DoD’s joint Satellite Communications (SATCOM) program continues to be strong.

Usage exceeded $532 million in FY15. Nearly 2,000 services and items have been delivered through the SATCOM contracts since inception in 2011.

A total of 44 agencies, including 34 civilian agencies, ordered satellite services in FY15 from the joint GSA-DoD program called Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA).

Defense needs continue to dominate the government’s commercial satellite buys under FCSA with approximately 93.7% of business volume from defense and 6.3% from civilian agencies. This is consistent with FY14 demand.

Agencies buying through the FCSA program obtain lower prices. Bandwidth prices in FY15 using the FCSA contract averaged 34% savings off of Schedule list prices. GSA estimates that the SATCOM centralized competition and increased price transparency driven by the GSA-DoD partnership saved the government $211 million in FY15.  

Today’s Satellite Buying Trends

The buying patterns on the SATCOM contracts remain consistent with last year, showing which satellite services are most often used and how agencies are buying them.

Most commercial satellite requirements (approximately 75%) continue to be satisfied through use of IT Schedule 70.

  • Agencies continued to order mostly transponded capacity from Schedule 70 Special Item Number (SIN) 132-54, to use dedicated bandwidth on a commercial communications satellite. Agencies pay for service from fixed and mobile locations to a satellite and back to the end user. In FY15, transponded capacity accounted for 57% of orders.
  • Subscription services (Schedule 70 SIN 132-55) continue to be the second most in demand, accounting for approximately 18% of government satellite solution demand in FY15.

In addition, more complex solutions that often contain customized components associated with technology, geography, mobility, or security are satisfied via Custom SATCOM Solutions (CS2) and Custom SATCOM Solutions – Small Business (CS2-SB). Use of CS2 and CS2-SB rose from 20% to 25% of GSA’s commercial satellite demand from FY14 to FY15.

The SATCOM program again proved to be a strong supporter of small business. In 2015, $63.9 million (12% program-wide) of purchases went to small businesses compared to $45 million (9% program-wide) in FY14. In FY15, $20.8 million was through GSA’s-DoD’s joint CS2-SB contract and $43.1 million through Schedule 70.

Planning for the Future with CS3

The past year also included the Department of Defense’s commitment to the next generation GSA-DoD joint satellite services solutions.

In FY15, GSA, DoD and other government agencies started to plan for what government commercial satellite contracts and solutions we’ll have for the future: Complex Commercial SATCOM Solutions (CS3).

CS3 will be the follow on contract for CS2 and CS2-SB which expire in August 2017 and February 2017, respectively. CS3 looks to build upon the success of CS2 and CS2-SB to create contracts as flexible and agile as possible to meet and satisfy the widely differing requirements of the federal government both now and for the next decade and beyond.

In 2015, we met several CS3 milestones, which included forming the GSA-DoD CS3 development team, issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to industry, engaging and collaborating with industry at a GSA-hosted CS3 Industry Day, and launching a new Interact Site to continue the dialog with industry on the future CS3.

On December 29th, we posted the CS3 Request for Proposals (RFP) on FedBizOpps.

Stay tuned for more in 2016 about CS3.

Join the Interact Site and follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to hear more and join the conversation.

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Improving Government Cybersecurity

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

As many are aware, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is putting in place tactical and strategic cybersecurity measures in response to threats and events including the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. The General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) is active in this response. In FY15, GSA ITS continued to support government efforts to improve cybersecurity by developing and improving upon the following initiatives:

Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM)

This initiative supports the IT Security Category Management Plan to establish a Supply Chain Risk Management Program Office to:

  • Develop FAS ITS Cybersecurity SCRM guidance and controls;
  • Conduct contract reviews of IT Schedule 70 vendors;
  • Manage incidents within FAS ITS contracts;
  • Establish and maintain contact with both internal GSA stakeholders and external agencies on cyber incidents; and
  • Maintain awareness of government-wide supply chain policy/trends.

The implementation of a SCRM capability will give customers confidence that our IT products come from original equipment manufacturers, their authorized resellers, or other “trusted” sources. A policy of buying IT products from trusted sources supports a customer’s ability to strengthen their IT security posture.

Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP)

The CSIP directs GSA, in coordination with OMB and DHS, to research contract vehicle options and develop a capability to deploy incident response services that can quickly be leveraged by federal agencies, on a reimbursable basis. ITS is currently working across GSA and with OMB and DHS to do this in accordance with the timeline established by OMB.

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance (CyberIA) Project

As part of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Category Management Initiative, the Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) initiated the Cybersecurity/Information Assurance (CyberIA) Project. The scope of the project is to categorize CyberIA products and services based on the NIST “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity”, which aligns with Executive Order (EO) 13636 “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” and OMB M-16-04 “Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) for the Federal Civilian Government”. It will also allow federal agencies to more easily identify CyberIA products and services, and offer better access to support market research, acquisition planning, and category management.

US Access

GSA’s USAccess program supports improving government cybersecurity by providing over 100 civilian agencies with credentialing solutions: a vital nationwide, economical, secure, shared service facilitating identity credential issuance, maintenance, and lifecycle management. These identity credentials are used to control access to federal information and facilities. The program currently manages over 600,000 active credentials and has been able to significantly reduce the cost of credentialing for customer agencies of all sizes through the shared service platform.

Federal Public-Key Infrastructure (FPKI)

The Federal Public-Key Infrastructure Management Authority (FPKIMA) enables the best and most cost-effective identity management practices for secure physical and logical access, document sharing and communication across the federal government and with the private sector. The FPKIMA enables agencies to achieve their e-government and identity management goals. The FPKI Trust Infrastructure has helped agencies reduce document handling, shipping, and processing costs as well as reducing network intrusions. In addition, the Trust Infrastructure enables interoperability between the over 5 million issued HSPD-12 credentials and other industry approved digital certificates.

Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business Cyber Security Requirements

GSA has baked in minimum-security standards for select contractor systems, the handling of government sensitive data and information technology, contractor security clearances, and homeland security in our GWACs at the contract level. At the task order level, contractors must comply with all GSA IT Security Policies, all applicable GSA and NIST standards and guidelines, and other government-wide laws and regulations for protection and security of information technology, e.g., Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.

Network Services

Cybersecurity has always been a key aspect of GSA’s Network Services Programs, and we’re stepping it up in the Network Services 2020 era. Today, Networx includes baseline standards and security services, such as the Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS) that currently provides Trusted Internet Connections-compliant managed security services to over 60 agencies.

Tomorrow, NS2020 will enable interoperability and further the migration from legacy technologies to a converged IP environment, ensuring cybersecurity is built in and inherently part of the government’s telecom infrastructure. Programs in the portfolio will specify cybersecurity requirements and include an even broader range of pre-defined, flexible security services.

For the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions acquisition, we worked closely with DHS and ensured state of the art cybersecurity measures are applied to all applicable services. In addition to provisions to facilitate the implementation of EINSTEIN 3A for all agencies, EIS contains MTIPS, a range of Managed Protection Services, and Intrusion Prevention Services. And cybersecurity considerations appear throughout the NS2020 portfolio. For example, the recently launched Mobility 2.0 initiative will encompass managed mobility, including Mobile Device Management and Mobile Application Management, both critical aspects of mobile security.

Moving Forward

ITS is committed to help government as a whole improve cybersecurity. We stand ready to work with agencies to explore ways our IT solutions can help reduce costs, minimize duplications and redundancies, and save money. Our job is to help support you to focus on your missions while maintaining quality and reducing costs.

And remember to follow us on Twitter@GSA_ITS to join the conversation.