The General Service Administration began accepting proposals for its long-awaited $50 billion telecommunications contract of the future Friday.
The Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract will eventually replace GSA’s Networx contract as the major vehicle for federal purchases of telecoms, IT and infrastructure solutions. GSA plans to begin awarding contracts on the 15-year vehicle beginning in late 2016, with a target of making EIS services available by early 2017.
After years of development, the resulting contract “achieves the appropriate balance between industry’s goals and capabilities, GSA’s objectives, and federal agencies’ current and future needs,” said Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Integrated Technology Services.
“The EIS acquisition demonstrates GSA’s commitment to provide federal agencies with the business solutions they need to fulfill their important missions,” Davie said in a statement. “This is the culmination of an extensive and successful collaborative process between GSA, federal agencies, and industry which lasted more than two years and provided GSA with valuable feedback that helped us build and refine the RFP.”
Networx contracts, which recently received extensions, will run through 2020 in anticipation of the transition to EIS, the foundation of GSA’s greater Network Services 2020 strategy: “to become the federal government’s strategic sourcing center for network-based and network-enabled services,” according to the EIS request for proposals. GSA officials said the agency is already working with agencies and industry to develop transition strategies and activities.
The EIS contract is expected be even bigger, and attract more competition and business into the marketplace than Networx — which drew more than $1.5 billion in federal sales in fiscal year 2014 — with a range of offerings like voice, video, cloud, and network and data transport services.
The EIS RFP was supposed to land in July, but more than 1,500 comments on the February draft RFP caused delays as the leadership team made more than a hundred changes to the draft. The entire EIS team was sequestered away from the GSA headquarters for the month of August to put the final touches on the RFP.
GSA will accept proposals until Jan. 15, 2016.
In terms of how vendors and agencies might react to the new contract, Ronald Gruia, director of emerging telecoms for Frost & Sullivan, told FedScoop that incumbent business relationships from Networx will likely continue. AT&T and Verizon, for instance, are leaders in task orders by volume and spend on Networx, he said. Likewise, “defense customers make up the majority of the awards and spending on the program, followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
“Incumbency does matter a little bit because there are vendors that have long-standing relationships and I think it’s kind of hard to [unseat] them from their position,” Gruia added. “But we’ll see.”