recommended reading

Complexity of Networx offerings causes delays

The range and complexity of the offerings on the Networx telecommunications contract have contributed to delays in the transition from its predecessor, according to industry officials.

Networx is the government's largest telecommunications program to date, a 10-year pact with a ceiling of $68 billion. It offers more advanced telecom technologies and services than the expiring FTS 2001 contract.

According to vendors on Networx, the complexity of the new offerings on the contract vehicle has contributed to delays in the transition that are costing the government $18 million a month in missed savings. Industry observers have predicted that some agencies will miss the June 2011 deadline for FTS 2001 services to be cut off.

"There's more stuff on Networx, things that agencies are acquiring now that they didn't necessarily acquire on FTS 2001," said Jeff Mohan, executive director of the Networx program for AT&T, one of three vendors on both the Universal and Enterprise segments of the contract. "The complexity has increased because the portfolio is so much larger." Universal provides all FTS 2001 services and more than 20 new services emphasizing Internet protocol-based networks. Enterprise is more limited, but includes a broader range of contractors.

Among the new products and services available are a range of security services, more options for wireless communications, video and teleconferencing. Mohan said AT&T offers 44 categories of products and services on Networx Universal and Enterprise, as opposed to 26 on FTS 2001.

The complexity of the offerings on Networx has led most agencies to break down their requirements into different categories, often leading to separate competitions for voice, wireless and IP needs, among others. Under the 1994 Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, all multiple award contractors must receive a fair opportunity for consideration for each task or delivery order in excess of $2,500 issued under a contract. Agencies cannot place orders on Networx until they have completed a fair-opportunity competition for each service they plan to order.

Last week Karl Krumbholz, GSA's director of network services, told Nextgov that most agencies have chosen to divide their services among different vendors, something GSA did not anticipate when developing the contract vehicle. The result is an increase in the number of fair opportunity decisions, with a corresponding increase in the workload for agencies' already overburdened telecom and acquisition workforces.

Susan Zeleniak, group president of Networx vendor Verizon Federal, said activity on Networx has been brisk in recent months, but confirmed that most agencies appear to be evaluating separate bids for every service needed, often resulting in multiple awards to different vendors.

"When they do individual procurements, it's a lot of work for the agency," Zeleniak said. "Clearly they believe it's worth the effort, but it does take more time."

Zeleniak said very few agencies have chosen to go with one vendor for a range of voice and IP services, as GSA originally envisioned. Additionally, she said, agencies are conducting the competitions very carefully to ensure they get the best possible combination of service and price.

One example is NASA, which announced on Monday that it has awarded a $14.2 million, eight-year task order to Qwest Government Services to upgrade the agency's high-speed broadband backbone. NASA procurement specialist Vanessa Lindsey said the agency took 14 months to complete the fair opportunity decision. She said the most difficult aspect of the process was getting the necessary level of detail from the vendors.

"After we did get the information, the process went pretty smoothly," Lindsey said.

Like most agencies that have made awards on Networx, NASA has chosen to split its services among multiple vendors and has issued at least two requests for proposals, with more on the way. Despite the additional workload, Lindsey said her agency considers it worthwhile to examine each service individually.

"In our experience, what we've seen is that different contractors provide different services in technically and operationally different ways," in addition to charging different prices for the same service, she said.

Threatwatch Alert

Social Media Takeover

Qatar News Agency Says Hackers Published Fake Stories

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.