Strides in Government Telecommunications

GSA created the first government-wide telecommunications program in 1960. And since that time, we’ve seen technology shift from largely voice-based services to data and IP with the Internet. We’ve seen bandwidth demand increase by orders of magnitude in the past decade.

We’re moving from hardware-based networks to networks operated by software and services, and we’ve moved from owned legacy infrastructure into operating models leveraging cloud and mobile technologies.

Now we’re seeing moves by others than the traditional telecommunications providers into the space, creating even greater changes in the market. This includes leveraging broadband wireless technology for data connectivity and voice service, relying solely on IP data connections for voice and text, and potentially using solar-powered drone technology in place of some traditional satellite capabilities to provide basic Internet access much cheaper to many more people.

Today, many federal agencies depend on GSA’s Networx contracts for their network and IT infrastructure, the backbone needed to support agency missions. The contracts provide agency toll-free numbers; allow agencies to build secure and complex agency-wide networks for voice, data, and video services; and enable access to services like video chat, virtual private networks, and web conferencing. Trends such as cloud computing, virtualization, and the movement toward everything-as-a-service (XaaS) are further increasing the criticality and demand for network bandwidth.

Over the decades, GSA has provided access to state of the art and emerging technology solutions reflecting current and shifting market offerings and government needs. We continually assess the market and work with agencies and industry to add new solutions to our programs and contracts.  If you watch this blog, or have an interest in government telecommunications, you’re most likely familiar with NS2020, our strategy for our next-generation telecommunications and IT infrastructure portfolio.

Let’s take a look at where we are so far.

Evolving Telecom is Essential to Government

  • After conducting a comprehensive market assessment and lessons learned analysis, we’ve just published our Network Services 2020 (NS2020) Strategy. We’ve outlined a portfolio of IT and telecommunications related offerings and services, and are planning new contracts and solutions to replace the Networx program and other contracts.

Cross-Agency and Industry Collaboration Is Critical

  • Agencies, industry, other stakeholders such as GAO, OMB and Hill staff have played and will continue to play a critical role in the success of our next generation program.
  • The NS2020 Interagency Advisory Panel (senior IT and acquisition representatives from a dozen agencies) and our industry partners, including the ACT-IAC NS2020 Working Group and TechAmerica’s GSA Subcommittee, have been actively involved in developing our strategy.

We’re Starting to Execute the NS2020 Strategy

NS2020 Acquisition Activity

  • In December 2013, we released an RFI for a new consolidated Northeast Infrastructure Solution. Comments for the RFI have closed. This is part of a multi-region interim strategy to create three acquisitions (Northeast, Central and Western) to replace local service contracts put into place by 11 Regions.  Expect to see RFIs for two additional consolidated regional acquisitions during 2014.
  • The multi-regional consolidation will allow GSA, vendors, and customer agencies to have an interim strategy driven in part by expiring contract vehicles in regions to cover gaps in regional coverage. It will also allow us to implement and validate some NS2020 concepts in advance of the larger integration.
  • On April 8, 2014, we released an RFI for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solution (EIS), the main contract vehicle expected from the NS2020 strategy. We highly encourage responses to the EIS RFI from all of industry so we can gain more insight on its perspectives towards creating a successful acquisition. Deadline for comments is May 22.
  • The NS2020 strategy’s resulting single global EIS of the future will include the requirements for Networx and the Northeast, Central and Western solutions, plus additional capabilities to meet the comprehensive range of Federal Agency IT/telecommunications requirements through 2028.

What’s Next

  • We continue to work with Congress, the White House, and OMB to ensure the success of NS2020.
  • Stakeholders across government and industry are showing significant interest and commitment to success of evolving telecom.
  • We look forward to everyone’s continued engagement on NS2020 acquisitions, including comments on the recently released EIS RFI, the upcoming consolidated regional RFIs, and the expected release of a draft EIS RFP in FY15.
  • As the EIS acquisition progresses, we anticipate conducting industry days and engaging in other forms of outreach and communication.

As technology continues to shift, GSA will persist to find easy, efficient, and cost savings ways to enable agencies to access and use those technologies.

I encourage you to stay up to date on everything NS2020 and EIS going forward. You can bookmark and regularly check our NS2020 website.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.