Networx transition deemed nearly complete

Almost 99 percent of services have moved to the Networx program, according to a GSA official.

Twelve out of 266 agencies remain to make the transition to the Networx contracts -- the General Services Administration's 10-year telecommunications program that is already more than five years past award.  

GSA originally planned to award the Networx contracts in 2006, but a series of delays pushed the actual award into 2007. The program intended to replace the Federal Telecommunications Service 2001 contracts that were awarded in the late 1990s. The deadline for agencies to complete the fair opportunity process -- essentially, conducting their own competitions among the vendors in the Networx program and selecting the ones they wish to use -- was Sept. 30, 2008, but some agencies took years longer. The final fair opportunity decisions were completed in June 2012.

FCW recently published a feature package documenting in detail the reasons for the slow march toward Networx migration. Read it here.

Those agencies are now in an option period on their FTS 2001 contracts, which gives them until the end of the year to complete the transition. Four of them are expected to make the transition by September, said Mary Davie, assistant Federal Acquisition Service commissioner for GSA’s Integrated Technology Services. Davie did not identify the agencies, and GSA has not responded to a request for further information.

“As many of you know, the Networx transition has not been easy,” Davie wrote July 31 on the Great Government through Technology blog. “While the adoption has experienced challenges, we continue to work with agencies and industry to improve the offering, ease the transition, and highlight its benefits. In fact, we are applying the lessons learned from this effort to ensure our future program and offerings are an unqualified success.”

The Networx program breaks up into two contract vehicles: Networx Universal, which offers an array of communications and network services to develop telecommunications solutions globally, and Networx Enterprise, which provides a smaller set of offerings that provides national and some international coverage.

The government has saved about $7.7 billion dollars since 1999 by using GSA’s telecom program, Davie said. Despite its flaws, “Networx adds tremendous value to agencies by leveraging the purchasing power of the federal government and providing access to new technologies,” she wrote.

More specifically, Networx has allowed agencies “to transform disparate telecommunications and networks infrastructure into an enterprisewide managed network and security service, allowing them to reinvest savings in newer technology and increase bandwidth by almost ten-fold,” Davie explained.

In FCW's report, critics cited various reasons for the slow-moving migration, including lack of oversight from the inspector general and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as GSA’s delay in selecting the prime contractors. 

“You basically had a lot of complexity, different language and nobody doing oversight, seemingly, allowing them a lot more time to do things,” Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager of CenturyLink, one of the Networx prime contractors, told FCW. “All of that created the perfect storm.”

Davie acknowledged there are lessons learned from the process and wrote GSA has been meeting with agency and industry partners to talk about what’s working and what could be done better. These discussions will help develop the strategy for the upcoming follow-on contract, Network Services 2020, she said.