Recent Network Services Updates Benefit Agencies, Suppliers

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 16, 2016

Now that the launch of Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) is just around the corner, some recent Network Services updates will benefit both federal agencies and telecom suppliers.

In July, we unified 11 Regional Network Service programs and one program office into a single national Network Services program.

In the past, GSA’s regional and national network services’ offices provided separate solutions — regional programs provided local telecom services and the national program office provided long-distance telecom services to agencies. Each region managed regional-based contracts with different fees that provided similar services. Agencies made buying decisions geographically and GSA provided local personnel in each region to support local and long-distance ordering and service delivery.

This made sense when lines between ordering local service and long-distance service were more distinct, but it’s not true today.

Now, our agency customers will have one person to go to for their regional and long-distance (wide-area network) telecommunications.

What to Expect Going Forward

Service delivery representatives have begun to reach out to agency customers to provide guidance on local service ordering. You will see:

  • A standard single fee for local service
  • One mailbox for service requests (tsr@gsa.gov) and one for trouble reporting (fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov)
  • No more regional boundaries for Network Services
  • No more service delivery inconsistencies across the program
  • Consolidated order writing and billing departments means a central group will help you with any billing/inventory questions or disputes
  • One group of pricing and technical experts will help gather agency requirements
  • Beginning in FY 2017, consolidated agency-facing website and operational budget

When EIS is awarded, agencies and suppliers will also have:

  • Fewer contracts to manage
  • Easier-to-understand offerings, with a streamlined acquisitions portfolio
  • One portfolio of contracts with
    • consistent offerings and pricing,
    • transparent fee structures,
    • a deeper field of technical expertise,
    • consolidated operations, and
    • standard procedures

New EIS Transition Website

At the same time we’re realigning, another big priority remains transition planning to move services to EIS. The EIS transition must be complete by May 2020.

To meet this deadline, we need you to be working now on EIS transition planning.
To help you with this effort, we have:

What You Can Do Now

With realignment off and running, and transition planning in full swing, here’s what you can do:

  • Stay tuned for your new local ordering instructions
  • Work with your GSA customer service representative
  • Submit telecom service requests to tsr@gsa.gov
  • Send telecom trouble reporting to fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov
  • Confirm your agency’s telecom inventory now and have the agency EIS transition plan completed and to GSA by October 2016

Once GSA awards EIS, federal agencies will begin to issue task and service orders and start moving telecom services to EIS starting in early 2017.

If you need assistance or have any questions about agency transition, please email ITCSC@gsa.gov or call (855) 482-4348.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Updates on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 15, 2016

We at GSA, customer agencies, and industry partners have been working diligently to prepare for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) — the 15-year, multi-billion-dollar contract that can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications while improving government efficiency and effectiveness and saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Our road to EIS has been a collaborative, open, and transparent journey, and we’re almost there.

We want to be sure you’re aware of the next steps and when you can expect each one.

Transition Readiness

We’ve been talking over the past year about how important it is for your agency–and others–to prepare for transition, including confirming final inventories and delivering your transition plan to GSA by October 2016. The goal is for agencies to be ready to start transitioning and do fair opportunity competitions for EIS task orders early in calendar year 2017 after EIS is ready for agency use.

With EIS just around the corner, you need to already be planning to move services to EIS now. All agency transitions will need to be completed by 2020, and it’s going to be complicated.

To meet this deadline, think of us as your business partners. We hope you’ve already started to plan. Download a copy of GSA’s EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact community site. If you need help with agency transition or other matters, reach out to us at the IT Customer Service Center at (855) 482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.

Proposal Evaluation Status and Discussions with Offerors

We are evaluating offers submitted on February 22, 2016 in response to the EIS Request for Proposal (RFP), issued in October 2015.

On July 28, 2016, we posted on the GSA EIS Interact site that we planned to contact offerors by mid-August. We are finalizing the information we intend to discuss with offerors.

Award Date and EIS Availability for Use

We want to award EIS as quickly as possible and plan to do so in early calendar year 2017. EIS can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications for the next decade.

Since we take this responsibility seriously, we’re being diligent, thoughtful, and thorough to maximize value for the government, industry, and the American people.

We remain committed to collaborating and working openly with you now and going forward.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Focusing on the EIS Customer Experience

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 30, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of acquisition vehicles that provide government agencies with a diverse set of telecommunications solutions, including Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, and the Federal Relay Service.

On June 22, the General Services Administration (GSA) joined more than 200 representatives from across government and industry for a dynamic, customer-centric discussion about next-generation telecommunications under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), a comprehensive solution-based vehicle to address all aspects of federal agency information technology telecommunications, and infrastructure requirements.

EIS will provide mission-critical telecommunications infrastructure to the federal government for the next 15 years. It replaces the Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3, and GSA Regional telecommunications services contracts that expire in May 2020.

This event allowed us to hear from agency officials on a wide range of topics, including:   

  • What they need from EIS
  • How important it is for each agency to find opportunities when transitioning telecom services under current contracts to EIS
  • How they will meet the aggressive transition challenges

I’d like to take this opportunity to share more of the valuable feedback we received during the event. The customer-focused themes and advice give EIS stakeholders across government and industry more insight as we collectively move to EIS.

Top Customer Takeaways

  1. Every federal agency is affected – more than 150 agencies and 60 Tribal organizations
  2. Agencies need to have a sense of urgency, focusing continuously on preparing for their complete transition until finished
  3. The EIS program holds opportunities for agencies, including modernizing, securing and transforming agency infrastructure. Think transformation as a key goal, rather than simply transition to the new acquisition vehicle.  This means approaching EIS transition as an opportunity to transform agency telecom operations and add mission value.
  4. Top priorities for agencies include:
  • Complete transition before the current contracts expire in 2020
  • Increase bandwidth demands
  • Meet agency cybersecurity requirements (cyber is built into EIS)
  • Focus on network modernization
  • See both short and long-term cost savings
  • Pay only for what the agency uses
  • Improve performance at lower cost

  5. Agencies are driving demand, not the EIS acquisition vehicle

  • For example, due to local area networks increasingly connected to wide-area telecommunications networks over Ethernet interfaces (that time-division multiplexing interfaces were challenged to provide), demand drove Ethernet transport to be a mandatory service

  6. To have a successful transition, each agency needs an accurate inventory and strong senior leadership commitment

  • Inventory includes everything from traditional long distance to fully redundant, mission-critical, secure VPNs
  • More than seven million inventory items across 90 regional and eight Networx contracts must move

  7. Engage with GSA early, get the agency contracting officer on board early, and put agency governance in place

  8. Agency Transition Plans are due to GSA in October 2016

  9. Download a free copy of GSA’s just-released EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact site

Industry Takeaways

  1. Industry needs to prepare for the anticipated tsunami of EIS task order requests;  Partners, teams, and processes have to be ready to go
  2. Agencies will be looking for high-quality proposals for task and service orders
  3. EIS wants to deliver tomorrow’s technology today and GSA encourages industry to work with government on ways to make that happen

Common Threads for Everyone

  1. EIS is designed as a flexible and dynamic acquisition vehicle that will require continued collaboration with GSA, government, and industry going forward
  2. All current federal government telecom inventory must be moved to EIS before the end of May 2020 – 47 months from now
  3. EIS will address changing technology needs throughout the life of the acquisition vehicle
  4. The EIS acquisition vehicle is expected to extend into 2031 with continuous technology refresh
  5. Year 2020 is just around the corner. Even though we’re in the midst of the EIS acquisition, we are also planning further into the future. We are updating the NS2020 strategy, which will become the NS2025 strategy

GSA looks forward to continuing this EIS transition customer-centric dialog with our industry and government colleagues. We will continue the conversation on this blog and our GSA EIS Interact community. If you need assistance with agency transition, reach out to us at the IT Customer Service Center at 855-482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.  And again, please download a free copy of GSA’s just-released EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact site.

Thanks to @ACTIAC and @ITAlliancePS  for supporting our June 22nd transition conversation.  The event was hosted by the ACT-IAC Networks and Telecommunications (N&T) Community of Interest (COI),Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), and other industry groups.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) RFP is Here!

Posted by Mary Davie
on October 19, 2015

spinning globe with silhouette overlay of binary code

GSA issued the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Request for Proposal (RFP) on October 16.  

Issuing the RFP represents a major milestone for government in two significant ways.

First, it means that we are well on our way to providing the federal government the comprehensive solutions based vehicle for telecommunications and IT infrastructure services that our customer agencies need.  

Second, the RFP is a great example of the collaboration and teamwork that allows us to be responsive continually to existing and emerging needs of government and industry. We feel very confident that the results achieved by the EIS acquisition will provide our customers flexibility, choice and convenience, and industry an agile platform for meeting unique agency requirements for the future.

In the spring and summer leading up to the RFP release, we held three information exchange days with industry. Over 150 industry and agency participants attended each session. In addition, we held over 60 one-on-one meetings with individual companies and obtained input from the ACT-IAC NS2020 Working Group and the NS2020 Interagency Advisory Panel (composed of Federal IT and Acquisition Executives). We received over 1,600 comments on the draft RFP that we analyzed. The final EIS RFP incorporates that feedback and comments received from numerous meetings with individual agency CIOs, the NS2020 Executive Advisory Panel, and industry.

I am confident that the final product will give industry flexibility to offer technologically current solutions to agencies at great prices, and agencies will have the flexibility to easily adopt those solutions to meet their mission needs.

We are looking forward to some robust competition on EIS.  It is still our goal to have EIS ready for agency use in early 2017.

Preparing for the Transition

In the meantime, we are focused on preparing for the transition from Networx and our Regional telecommunications contracts to EIS.  The three-year Networx contracts extensions to 2020 give agencies time to transition to EIS. We are also extending many of our local service agreements, including the Washington Interagency Telecommunications Contract 3 (WITS 3), to 2020. It’s imperative that federal agencies complete the transition of all their telecom services to EIS by May 2020 as this is the hard deadline for contract expiration.

Together, industry, agencies, and GSA have a lot of work to do to achieve the May 2020 deadline for transition. We have solicited industry ideas for the most efficient ways to transition services. The transition effort is the next opportunity for agencies and industry to continue the high level of collaboration so far achieved under the EIS initiative.  We look forward to the challenge.  

Agencies should now be working on transition plans and telecommunications services inventories, both essential steps to a timely transition. We are currently working with some agencies on these steps. If you haven’t already been in touch with us regarding transition planning, please go to the EIS webpages today and download the template for transition planning or contact your GSA Technology Service Manager.

Please check out and register on our EIS Interact site for status updates on EIS and our transition efforts. And be sure to follow ITS on Twitter @GSA_ITS for updates on all GSA’s IT offerings.

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Collaborating for Better Government

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 16, 2015

Wikipedia defines “collaboration” as “working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals.” According to the Free Dictionary, collaborating is a partnership, working as a team, or being in concert.   

For GSA, collaboration is more than just a buzzword or standing at a podium talking to stakeholders. It is a dialog a give and take that includes understanding and respecting everyone’s needs, goals, and values.

Successful collaboration happens when everyone is committed to the core principles of trust, understanding, and compromise– and the end result is a better outcome for all parties.

Creating the IT Portfolio of Solutions

At GSA, collaboration is a driving force as we re-shape many of our government-wide programs and contracts. For those of you working with GSA, you’ve seen or been part of any number of working groups, industry days, interagency meetings, and requirements teams. You’ve contributed thousands of ideas and comments on our RFIs, draft RFPs and in our Interact communities.  You’ve rolled up your sleeves and helped shape our offerings from adding a new Special Item Number (SIN) on IT Schedule 70, to developing OASIS, Alliant 2, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), Network Services 2020 (NS2020), cloud strategies, identity management solutions, mobility and wireless solutions, satellite solutions, software, hardware and so much more.  

The Government’s shift to Category Management (CM), has also guided our planning and resulting solutions. We have experts that know telecom, software, IT hardware, IT services and IT security. The category hallways within the Acquisition Gateway provide access to many government-wide contracts, tools, pricing information, buying guides, templates, best practices and access to other buyers across government so you don’t have to figure things out on your own and are able to leverage work others have already done.

Our collective work has led to a very clear strategy for GSA’s next generation of IT and telecommunications solutions.  As a result, GSA is implementing solutions that better meet agencies’ needs, provide flexibility in acquiring IT/telecom, provide savings, reduce duplication and are reflective of technology market offerings. The graphic below shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development. 

This graphic shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development.

Reducing Duplication While Providing Flexibility

Our category management approach ensures that our contract solutions provide different ways to buy technology based on agency collaboration and feedback. We’ve been asked why you see similar technology or services available on more than one of our contracts. Some might say this also results in “duplication” or confusion, but our customers are telling us that they  need flexibility to buy technology products and services in different ways based on what I refer to it as, “the nature of the buy.”  

ITS prides itself on providing both general and niche solutions for IT and telecommunications products and services to federal, state and local agencies.  These solutions draw on GSA’s acquisition and IT expertise and they help our customers by allowing them to direct more resources into focusing on their core missions. About 30% of federal IT spend flows through ITS contracts and programs. We hold ourselves accountable for increasing federal procurement efficiency, reducing costs for both government and industry, and helping government achieve better results.  Reducing overlapping and redundant contracts is important to ITS. We’ve taken a true portfolio approach to planning our solutions and ensuring we provide maximum flexibility for government buyers as they make complex procurement strategy decisions.   

For example, agencies today are procuring wireless services and devices in a number of ways.  Our FSSI Wireless BPAs offer certain terms and conditions, plans, features (such as aggregated pooling of minutes and data) and pricing for services with devices provided as part of the overall solution. On IT Schedule 70, agencies have the option of buying just devices or service plans and devices and constructing their own terms and conditions.  If an agency were to use Networx for the wireless services/devices, they may be doing so to consolidate mobile services on a broader enterprise platform implementation.  

Cloud is another great example. We have cloud-based services available on IT Schedule 70, on our IaaS and EaaS BPAs, through GWACs (especially where integration or transition services are also needed) and through our network services contracts (off premise hosting or data center solutions are examples).  Our network services contracts are telecommunications focused but also recognize broader, related products and services may need to be part of the overall solution. EIS will provide best in class virtual private network services, Ethernet, voice, and managed network services at significant discounts.  These services may also be related to an agency’s enterprise implementation of data centers or call centers — either on-site or cloud-based.  While these are just a few examples, you can see it really doesn’t make sense to try to define, “bucket,” and limit technology solutions to individual contracts.

Guiding Agencies to the best choice

GSA’s job is to understand the market, listen to agency and industry partners, and use what we’ve learned to create solutions. While creating solutions will involve some overlap, we want to act as an honest broker and help agencies get to the best solution for them. Sometimes that includes guiding agencies to other non-GSA enterprise contracts that might be a better fit for their requirements.

We are making it our responsibility to help agencies through the process, especially when overlap could cause potential confusion about which vehicle is optimal for certain requirements. We will accomplish this through our continued proactive management approach with both customers and vendors. Through collaboration, scope reviews, and relationships, we want to better understand the core requirements and make the best acquisition recommendation.

As I pointed out earlier, we don’t take a “one size fits all” approach. If an agency has a cloud requirement that is within the scope of multiple contracts, we will work with that customer to understand their requirements and help assess their acquisition choices. We will make the best recommendation to ensure the agency requirements are being met in the most efficient and effective manner with the highest quality vendors possible.  On contracts such as our GWACs, Networx, and EIS, GSA performs pre-award and post-award scope reviews ensuring requirements are not only within the scope of the contract but that the contract is being used most effectively.  In addition, on our GWACs and on EIS, training is mandatory for contracting officers who use these contracts prior to GSA issuing them a delegation of procurement authority.

Final Thoughts

Even with slight overlap, these vehicles will deliver flexibility to buyers across government through pre-existing, pre-vetted contracts, which ultimately saves government and industry from investing time and money on new and redundant open-market contracts.

A few final, important thoughts I want to share with you about collaboration:

  • Collaboration allows us to be responsive continually to existing and emerging needs of government agencies and industry
  • Continual collaboration is always a goal, often a challenge, and clearly an opportunity
  • We always look for ways to make IT acquisitions seamlessly support agency missions, rather than hinder them. We also work to align to industry partners’ business goals, when they do not detract from government goals
  • Customer convenience, flexibility, and choice will always matter

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.

Join us for a live webcast demonstration of the Acquisition Gateway with Q&A on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, Noon MT, 11 a.m. PT. There’s no charge for this training, and you can earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP). This webcast is open to all and only federal government agency personnel. Register today!

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Regional Telecom Extensions Underway

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 23, 2015

Federal government agencies largely order their telecommunications through GSA’s Networx telecommunications program or through our Regional Local Service Agreements (LSAs) for local telecommunications.

As announced in March, we are extending the period of performance for the Network Universal and Enterprise contracts from 2017 to 2020.

We are currently working with our industry suppliers to extend the LSAs, including the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3 contract in the metropolitan DC area.

In addition, we are working closely with our federal agency partners to begin rigorous transition planning and preparation. These extensions will allow agencies time to develop requirements and evaluate and implement solutions using the follow-on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract and/or other contracts in the GSA ITS portfolio.

As part of our overall NS2020 strategy, we will also be incorporating services currently available on our regional LSAs into EIS, eliminating the need for many duplicative contracts.  To bring these two programs together and minimize transition time, cost and risk, GSA will extend those LSAs expiring earlier than 2020 to coincide with the Networx contract extensions to 2020.

No Longer Pursuing RIS

GSA originally looked at a Regional Infrastructure Solutions (RIS) strategy to extend service for the expiring Regional LSAs by consolidating acquisitions and awarding interim contracts to provide service continuity until the competitive awards of EIS were made.

That approach would involve three larger geographic interim solutions: Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS), Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS), and Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS).

However, in looking further at the approach, we found the schedules for the EIS and RIS procurements began to run parallel, and we questioned the purpose and cost effectiveness of separate RIS acquisitions. Industry partners and agencies were also concerned about RIS running in parallel with EIS and the additional acquisition investments the approach would have required.

GSA found eliminating the RIS acquisitions could achieve significant savings for industry and government and avoid unnecessary duplication and transitions.

Focusing on EIS

With our full focus now on EIS, we have a lot of information to share with you. And we’re also hoping you’ll continue to share your input with GSA as we work to finalize the EIS requirements.  To facilitate the sharing of information, we created the new EIS Interact Community and created a series of Information Exchange Days. Register now for the last Information Exchange Day on June 30.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to hear more about EIS and to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.

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EIS Takes Big Steps to Collaborate

Posted by Mary Davie
on April 27, 2015

It’s April. It’s Spring. And, it’s the time of year when we do spring cleaning to revitalize our lawns, clean messy garages, and refresh our winter-weary homes.

It’s also a great time to kick off a series of live GSA Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) “Information Exchange” sessions with industry and launch a new EIS interactive online community for federal government agencies and potential industry partners.

EIS is the main component of the Network Services 2020 (NS2020) Strategy. It will replace GSA’s Networx and regional and local contracts, which many agencies currently use to acquire best-value IT, telecom, and infrastructure. Agencies will start to transition in 2017.

Attend Information Exchange Days

We issued an EIS Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) in February. Our partners in government and industry responded with more than 1,500 comments on the Draft RFP. We’re excited about the amount of interest in the Draft RFP and we’re looking forward to good, constructive conversations.

We’ll continue this productive dialog during “information exchange” days before we issue the RFP.  These “information exchange” sessions are open to government and industry and will take place on April 27, May 28 and June 30.

The information exchange sessions will give government and industry a chance to talk about the upcoming RFP and discuss common themes, insights, and issues. Stay tuned to the EIS Interact Community for how to register for the remaining sessions. Space is limited.

Join EIS Interact Community

To make EIS a success, we must ensure continuous collaboration and feedback. The EIS Interact community opened on April 17. This open forum is for GSA, agencies, and industry to continually collaborate and share ideas.

The EIS transition planning process, for example, has started. In order to be successful, we need to share insights and lessons learned. On the Interact community, we can jointly share transition insights and lessons to add value for every agency and make government-wide transitioning smoother overall.

How valuable the open forum will be depends on the value of member contributions. When we share good generic tips, ideas, and helpful insights, we serve our shared needs.

For any non-public discussions, including those related to proprietary information, you should use the EIS mailbox, which is EIS.Mailbox@gsa.gov.

To join the Interact community, visit the site to become a member. You will have access to community postings, including from GSA, and can participate, share and receive helpful information via the discussions.

Collaboration is Shaping EIS from the Start

These efforts mark the next logical steps in our continued emphasis on EIS collaboration.

Government and industry working together has been part of the EIS acquisition effort from day one. This is vital to ensure federal agency needs are met and industry partners have input early into the contract.

Our first step was to gather feedback and input on lessons learned from current contracts and past telecom transitions.

We’ve issued Requests for Information (RFIs) and posted a Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) on FBO.gov to gather EIS input and recommendations from stakeholders and share the planned EIS approach.

We continue to work in partnership with government agencies and industry partners, such as with one-on-one meetings, working groups, advisory panels, and by participating at other government and industry events.

This Spring marks a new season in collaboration. We encourage you to join the EIS Interact Community and come to information exchange days. Let’s keep moving in the right direction together!

If you need help or information on GSA’s EIS acquisition, go to our EIS Webpage.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation.

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Big News for Govt Telecom, IT, Infrastructure

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 3, 2015

GSA is taking two key steps in our efforts to establish the future acquisition contract for government-wide IT, infrastructure, and telecommunications.

  1. On February 28 we issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contracts. EIS will be the follow-on contract vehicle to the existing heavily-used government-wide Networx and regional telecom contracts.
  2. We are beginning discussions with current Networx contractors for three-year extensions to existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. Originally set to expire in March and May 2017, the contracts will expire in March 2020 and in May 2020.

Our goals with EIS are:

  • Simplify the process of acquiring information technology and telecommunications products and services
  • Provide cost savings through aggregated volume buying and price and spend visibility
  • Enable the procurement of integrated enterprise-wide solutions
  • Foster competition and promote participation by small businesses
  • Offer a flexible and agile suite of services that supports a range of government purchasing patterns

Give Us Your Input on the Draft RFP

The draft RFP comes after significant and extensive industry and agency engagement.  We are encouraging comments and suggestions from both industry and government to help us finalize and further shape our program and contract.  We are extremely interested in ideas that will streamline the requirements for, or result in, an expedited transition and allow agencies and industry to transition to EIS in a timely and efficient manner.

The deadline for comments for this draft RFP is March 31, 2015. You can send feedback and comments to EIS.mailbox@gsa.gov.

Next steps will include:

  •  Continue to work with industry and agencies to implement ongoing Networx and regional efficiencies
  • Review draft EIS RFP feedback and make changes when it makes sense
  • Schedule an industry day to go over the draft RFP and updates
  • Issue the final EIS RFP in July 2015
  • Work with agencies and industry in transition planning for Networx and expiring regional contracts prior to award of EIS; in fact, GSA has already begun inventory analysis and validation on all expiring contracts
  • Target award of EIS contracts and issue Notification To Proceed to successful offerors by January 2017
  • Plan for agencies to start transition from Networx and regional contracts to EIS in 2017
  • Complete transition of Networx and regional customers to EIS no later than May 2020

Networx Extensions: Next Steps

Today, most federal agencies purchase network services through the Networx telecommunications program.  In FY 2014, Networx business volume was $1.5B.

The Networx 3-year contract extensions are designed to provide time for a phased and orderly transition to EIS.

We are working with existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contractors to complete the modifications to extend the contracts so they will be available in parallel with the EIS contracts for three years after the EIS award.

The Networx extensions will simplify and make the transition easier by ensuring agencies uninterrupted existing services during this time.  GSA is increasing staffing and support to provide agencies with requirements development, acquisition assistance, and transition assistance.

Staggered agency implementation across government will support strategic deployment of GSA’s and contractors’ resources and expertise to assist agencies.

The three-year extension and transition period will also give agencies flexibility as they balance internal resources between transition activities and other agency priorities.

The EIS acquisition, along with the Networx extensions, are the cornerstones of the NS2020 strategy, which is designed to lower the cost of providing network services and improve acquisition efficiency.

Finally, we are continuing to take a close look at the best ways to continue services provided through existing regional contracts, including WITS 3, prior to also transitioning those services to EIS.

Remember to send feedback and comments on the draft RFP by March 31, 2015 to EIS.mailbox@gsa.gov. If you have any other questions about EIS, the draft RFP, or Networx extensions, check out our Need Help webpage for the ways you can contact us.

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Industry and Small Business Outreach on Northeast Infrastructure Solutions

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 1, 2014

What’s hot right now besides the weather?

Our newly issued Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS) Draft Statement of Work (SOW) is a hot topic in the federal IT community. The NIS acquisition is one of GSA’s critical steps to our ultimate goal of moving toward a fully consolidated, enterprise-wide, nationwide telecommunications portfolio (Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions [EIS]) based on GSA’s Network Services 2020 (NS2020) strategy.

Working with our federal agency partners, we developed requirements and issued the draft SOW on fbo.gov on July 24, 2014. The draft is industry’s chance to help shape the acquisition that will serve markets and customer requirements located in the Northeast Corridor.

As part of NIS, GSA is considering a partial set-aside to small business for DSL and Tariff requirements. This RFI is also seeking input on those capabilities. See our Small Business Partial Set-Aside document for a full description of requirements and information requested. We haven’t made a final decision on small business set-aside yet, and are using this tool to assess capabilities and receive feedback.

Submit comments through August 8, 2014 using this email address: nis.sources-sought.comments@gsa.gov.

Next Steps

NIS will consolidate local service contracts currently in place in four GSA Regions across the Northeast United States (NCR and Regions 1, 2 and 3). Two more regional consolidations — Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS) and Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS) — are also planned over the next fiscal year. Together, the three consolidated regional acquisitions are called the Regional Infrastructure Solutions (RIS).

We anticipate issuing Requests for Information (RFIs) soon for WIS and CIS, so stay tuned to @GSA_ITS on Twitter for updates.

 

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Networx Data Shapes our Understanding of Telecommunications

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 10, 2014

Big data is being used to help transform government by revealing information and patterns that can bring innovation, better services, and smarter decisions.

To effectively use big data, we must be willing to collect, analyze, and share the information we discover. You already know about some of the ways we’re helping the government buy smarter through big data: GWAC Prices Paid Tool, horizontal and vertical pricing in Schedule 70, and Reverse Auction pricing data.

Here is something you may not have heard a lot about: GSA’s major telecommunications program, Networx, collects data about what federal agencies are purchasing and how much they are paying. Because most federal agencies make network services purchases through the Networx program, these “big data” details from Networx provide a good picture of the federal networking and telecommunications market — and we’re happy to share it.

We’ve just completed an analysis of the first half of fiscal year 2014. And, it’s a good time to look at how federal agencies are using the Networx contracts and the trends we’re seeing in telecommunications buying.

In total, more than 136 federal agencies use Networx. Federal agencies have purchased $762 million in network and telecommunications services off the Networx contract through the second quarter of FY 2014. During the same period last year, federal agencies purchased $630 million through Networx. After accounting for FY 2013 purchases through now expired legacy contracts, this represents a year-over-year increase of 12.8% on the Networx contracts. The projected yearly increase we’re seeing is an indicator that agencies are utilizing Networx more often than ever to solve their network services solutions.

Networx Buying Trends

GSA attributes this growth in usage to a couple of factors. First, federal agencies are using Networx to purchase more services because of increased bandwidth demand. More applications, more video, and more data all drive the need for more bandwidth. When was the last time you were not online? The two largest in-demand core services on Networx are Internet Protocol Based Virtual Private Network and Managed Network Services. Government agencies have increased purchasing of these two services by 24% and 36% respectively in FY 2014.

Second, due to transition and increased activity at call centers at several civilian agencies, toll-free services and call center services have seen year-over-year purchase increases of 62% and 288% respectively.

 Purchase Increases by Service from FY 13 to FY 14  Percentage of Increase
 Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network Service  24%
 Managed Network Services  36%
 Toll Free Services  62%
 Call Center Services  288%

Increases in bandwidth-driven services more than offset declines in legacy services like long distance voice, which is down 5% from FY 2013. Legacy networks that are based on the Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Frame Relay protocols have largely disappeared. They are down 8% and 31% respectively since last year and, combined, now account for less than 1% of federal purchases.

 Purchase Decreases by Service from FY 13 to FY 14  Percentage of Increase
 Long Distance Voice Service  -5%
 Asynchronous Transfer Mode  -8%
 Frame Relay Service  -31%

Beyond these core services, purchases of storage services (Network Attached Storage, Storage Area Networks, and Backup and Restoration Services) through Networx continue to grow. Storage services are a small part of overall use on Networx, but GSA considers this a bellwether for enhancement of traditional bandwidth with cloud services like Infrastructure as a Service.

Buying trends on Networx are expected to continue strong in the second half of FY 2014, but at a decreased growth rate compared to the first half of the year. Demand for bandwidth through IP based virtual private networks is expected to grow as an overall trend; however, the large purchase growth in toll-free and call center services will taper as several large federal call centers complete modernization efforts and roll into steady-state operations.

Savings Compared to Commercial Pricing

In the first two quarters of FY 2014, the Networx program saved taxpayers and agency users $332 million. This is slightly more than the $328 million savings we originally anticipated for this point in the year. Networx is on target to meet our goal of saving federal agencies at least $659 million this year.  We base the Networx savings calculations on a comparison of Networx pricing, commercial pricing for similar services, and Networx usage.

The GSA Network Services Program continues to have a two-pronged focus: deliver today and plan for tomorrow. Our focus for today with Networx and our other telecommunications acquisition vehicles (including FSSI Wireless BPAs, Connections II, Commercial Satellite Program, and a full range of regional and local voice, data, video, Internet and other service offerings) is to continue to save taxpayer dollars and deliver what agencies need in telecommunications services.  For example, we are making Networx process changes to lower the transaction cost of purchases and price changes to lower per unit service costs.

Looking to the future, with NS2020, we are in the midst of developing new acquisitions and service delivery models to help structure and enhance future government telecommunications both globally and locally.

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

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