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GSA’s Plan for Network Services 2020 Aims to Bypass Speedbumps

Inara Prusakova/Shutterstock.com

As the General Services Administration continues preparation to bid its next-generation telecommunications contract vehicle – potentially worth $50 billion over a 15-year lifetime – the name of the game for federal agencies is “transition.”

That is, the sooner agencies begin inventorying their systems and compiling transition plans, the faster they’ll be able to get on board and begin purchasing services through the new vehicle.

GSA officials released a draft request for proposals in February and expect to release the formal RFP by September. Contact award notifications are expected in January 2017.

“The theme – and you’re going to hear me say it over and over again – is transitioning federal agencies,” said Amando Gavino Jr., director of GSA's Office of Network Services Programs.

Gavino was among several key officials who spoke Thursday at an industry day event centered on the Network Services 2020 strategy, known as NS2020.

“It’s a big effort,” Gavino added, speaking to an audience composed primarily of several hundred telecommunications stakeholders. “I do realize how big of a lift it is.”

The goal, Gavino said, is to have agencies “start transitioning now” so most are able to migrate over to the new Enterprise Infrastructure Services contract by 2020. He reminded the audience it took six years for the government to move from FTS-2001 to Networx almost a decade ago. A repeat of such a slow migration, he said, would be unacceptable this time around.

Network Services Transition Director Debbie Hren provided both an overview of the challenges that plagued the Networx migration and a strategy for avoiding a similar outcome in NS2020.

Among the eyebrow-raising statistics Hren cited following analysis of the Networx migration: fair opportunity decisions took – on average – more than two years.

“We can’t do that again,” she said.

Hren said GSA has developed a strategy it has begun sharing with agencies, dubbed the “five pillars of success,” which aims to make the transition successful.

Those areas are:

  • High-level agency involvement;
  • Agency transition plans due to GSA and the Office of Management and Budget by 2016;
  • A “phased, orderly” approach, meaning pace and sequence are set to even total workload for agencies and contractors;
  • Having GSA and contractors validate inventories by January 2016 and GSA providing “tailored consulting assistance” to agencies for fair opportunity decisions and ordering; and
  • Transparency and meaningful reporting, including metrics that “convey the relative complexity, level of effort and transition progress.”

It’s a lot of information, to be sure, but the main point is for agencies to get moving on transition plans now, so they don’t get behind the eight-ball.

Keeping in line with GSA’s transparent approach to its NS2020 strategy, the agency is posting all information shared during Thursday’s industry day – including relevant PowerPoint slides – on its website.

(Image via Inara Prusakova/ Shutterstock.com)

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