The General Services Administration recently moved forward with plans to give agencies a new way to acquire IT infrastructure services, but the old system may still be around for several years.
Contracts for Networx, the current framework that had been set to expire in 2017, will now run through 2020, according to a blog post from Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services.
“We are beginning discussions with current Networx contractors for three-year extensions to existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts,” Davie wrote. “Originally set to expire in March and May 2017, the contracts will expire in March 2020 and in May 2020.”
These extensions, Davie said, “are designed to provide time for a phased and orderly transition to” Network Services 2020’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), the network services acquisition vehicle that will replace Networx and other regional contracts. GSA recently published a draft request for proposals for EIS Feb. 28. Comments are due by March 31.
In the blog post, Davie laid out GSA’s goals with EIS:
- Simplify the process of acquiring information technology and telecommunications products and services.
- Provide cost savings through aggregated volume buying and price and spend visibility.
- Enable the procurement of integrated enterprisewide solutions.
- Foster competition and promote participation by small businesses.
- Offer a flexible and agile suite of services that supports a range of government purchasing patterns.
The transition from Networx won’t begin until 2017, when GSA plans to award EIS contracts and issue a Notification To Proceed to contractors by the end of January. For the three-year period until 2020, Networx contracts will run parallel to the new NS2020 contracts to ensure smooth and staggered transition, rather than a bull rush.
“The Networx extensions will simplify and make the transition easier by ensuring agencies uninterrupted existing services during this time,” Davie wrote. “Staggered agency implementation across government will support strategic deployment of GSA’s and contractors’ resources and expertise to assist agencies.”
Despite its phase out, Networx remains exceptionally popular as a contracting vehicle for agencies’ acquisition of network services. Currently, 136 federal agencies use the vehicle to buy their network services. Last year, agencies spent $1.53 billion using the contract vehicle, up 13 percent from 2013. The intention is that NS2020 will draw even more competition into the marketplace and with it more federal network purchasing.