Networx — why the transition has been an uphill climb

Networx — it is the big federal telecommunications contract. Of course, the federal government spends big bucks on telecommunications services.

In fiscal 2007, agencies spent some $960 million on telecom services, according to the Government Accountability Office and that was 2007. Back in 2007, GSA awarded a new contract for federal telecommunications services — Networx, which would replace FTS 2001, which was set to expire.

But the transition has taken forever and the delays have cost the federal government millions of dollars. That has left many to ask why, in this age of austerity, this is so difficult.

Camille Tuutti is a reporter for Federal Computer Week. She is the co-author of a story, “Assessing Networx at midlife: Are we there yet?” She told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program gave us a history in the Networks contract.

Big Holdups:

  • The telecom industry has evolved, it’s much more detailed, which makes the transition significantly more difficult.
  • Agencies do not have the technical staff they need to implement Networks.
  • The time it took GSA to choose the prime contractors. The agency had planned to award the contracts in 2006 and delayed them by eight months. Agencies had to make sure that their services under the existing contracts would continue while waiting to find out which vendors would have places on the new program.
  • During the transition from FTS 2000 to FTS 2001, the Office of Management and Budget oversaw the process and kept it on track. But OMB has not taken a leadership role in the Networx transition.
  • The lure of rival contracts also slowed Networks, GSA was offering many Networx services through other contract vehicles. For instance, agencies could buy some services through GSA’s IT Schedule 70 and the Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services contract or through the Applications ’N’ Support for Widely-Diverse End-user Requirements and Millennia Lite governmentwide acquisition contracts, both of which have now ended.

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