GSA won't hang up on legacy telecom just yet

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The agency is accounting for delays in the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions transition by adding more time before requiring agencies to move off of current legacy services.

The transition to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions telecom contract for federal agencies is flagging, and with agencies facing several key deadlines, the General Services Administration has opted to implement "continuity of service" clauses in its legacy contracts.

GSA will allow telecom customers on the Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3 and Regional Local Service contracts to maintain their current service after the contracts expire on May 31, 2023, an agency spokesperson confirmed. This allows "agencies and vendors time to sunset services on the expired contracts," the spokesperson said.

Agencies were expected, under the old timeline, to have fully migrated to EIS by the end of fiscal year 2022. A 90% transition was called for by the end of this March. Those deadlines are expected to be extended. GSA did not respond to specific questions about the updated transition timeline. More details are expected to be publicly released soon. 

The EIS contract was awarded in August, 2017, but transition plans go back even farther than that. However, the effort has been delayed and extended at multiple points. The most recent Federal Information Technology and Reform Act scorecard, released at a House Oversight hearing last month, shows that 15 of 24 covered agencies were failing in their EIS transition goals.

Carol Harris, a federal information technology specialist at the Government Accountability Office, said at the hearing that telecom transition is "not an agency priority." She added: "They don't think about the transition until the deadline is on the horizon, unfortunately."  

Zain Ahmed, senior vice president at Lumen, one of the EIS prime contractors, cited more specific issues surrounding the current extension.

"The reality is that prolonged task order award timelines, continuing resolutions, the pandemic and supply chain issues have all made the transition more challenging than previously anticipated," Ahmed said in an emailed statement to FCW. "It's crucial that we give agencies enough time to really transform their IT services under the EIS contract and not reward those agencies that may have decided to pursue a like-for-like transition at the expense of true IT modernization."

At the FITARA hearing in January, chief information officers at the Department of Energy and the Small Business Administration, which received failing scorecard grades for EIS, said their contract awards had been late, but that they both expected to hit the September 2022 target for 100% migration to the new contract.