Applying Lessons Learned To Telecom Transition

GSA’s strategic network services program is critical to the services and missions of almost all civilian and
defense agencies. Our telecommunications and IT contracts are designed to reduce risk and increase efficiency for government agencies.

The government completed the FTS2001-to-Networx transition about a year ago. The transition took longer than expected, but here’s the great news: In FY13, the Networx contract saved US taxpayers over $678M and agencies purchased over $1.3B using it.

Networx offers significantly better pricing than FTS2001, typically 10% to 40% depending on the service. By leveraging this buying power of government, agencies can procure the services they need at lower prices, and they can avoid the costs and risks of creating and managing their own contracts and support systems.

Networx enables government agencies to save taxpayer dollars, meet many mandates such as Trusted Internet Connections and IPv6, modernize networks, and use advanced technologies as they become available.

GSA did a lot to support agencies in the Networx transition. We performed transition planning and provided extensive transition assistance, including:

  • Transition Credit Reimbursement
  • Direct technical support
  • Inventory and billing systems
  • Operating a Transition Coordination Center
  • Acquisition support for some smaller agencies

Networx benefits and successes are clear, but we can do better! The Government’s transition to Networx took longer than anticipated, resulting in lost savings opportunities. Transitioning an agency’s enterprise network is complex, there are considerable costs associated with transition, and many stakeholders that must work together.

Apply Experience

We recognize the need to apply lessons from the past to enhance future transition success. We’ve analyzed lessons learned over the past few years to plan better for a future transition and follow-on contract and program.

And we are also working on implementing recommendations from the recent GAO report on Networx Transition.

Among the many lessons we and our partner agencies learned from the Networx transition are that improvements are needed in:

  • Project planning
  • Executive visibility
  • Coordination between IT and acquisition personnel
  • Managing complex acquisition processes to avoid duplicative contracts
  • Technical and contracting telecom expertise across government and need for more GSA support

We recently posted the Network Services Programs Lessons Learned Overview and Network Services Programs Lessons Learned Report to gsa.gov and are working to create a Lessons Learned government database for agencies to search and access.

Network Services 2020, or NS2020, is our strategy for our next-generation telecom and IT infrastructure portfolio. We’re applying lessons learned and proactively engaging our stakeholders to define the complete set of service offerings under NS2020.

Successful transition involves many steps that require executive-level attention and dedicated resources:

  • Transition Planning – Establishing a Transition Working Group, recommending a standard process, developing Statement of Work (SOW) and Fair Opportunity templates, developing a Transition Management Plan, creating a methodology to compute transition credit reimbursements, defining transition tracking metrics, and customer education
  • Direct Transition Preparation – Implementing agency education program and developing requirements by agencies, including drafting Task Order statements of work
  • Active Transition – Making Fair Opportunity decisions, ordering services, and transitioning the services
  • Inventory Management – Agencies, with assistance from GSA as needed, must continuously manage and validate their service inventories; it’s not just a one-time event to be conducted during a set transition period

Our Next Steps

  • Develop our successor to Networx and our regional contracts
  • Incorporate lessons learned to fully address improvements for transition, contracts, the program, acquisition strategy, ordering, billing and inventory management – we want to reduce duplicative contract vehicles, and continue savings to federal agencies
  • Establish an inter-agency Transition Working group
  • Establish clear and realistic end-to-end transition schedules and milestones
  • Recommend establishment of a senior-level “Transition Transparency Group” to provide needed visibility, transparency and focus
  • Offer full life-cycle support options to enable agencies to succeed in any transition step
  • Continue to engage IT and acquisition stakeholders (including industry) early and continuously throughout the process
  • Work with OPM to identify skills needed and skill gaps or resource shortages and strategies for
    addressing

As we move into a new phase of government telecom, we take with us applied knowledge and those lessons from the past to aid the transition. We continue to be committed to offer a marketplace that provides agencies with buying options, access to data and information, access to expertise, an improved buying experience, and continue to deliver significant savings.

Find out how we can assist you through our new Need Help Page. And be sure to follow us and continue the conversation on Twitter@GSA_ITS.

About Mary Davie