GSA tells lawmakers Networx can be improved

The General Services Administration is considering major changes to its $10 billion telecommunications governmentwide acquisition follow-on contract to FTS 2001, GSA officials told lawmakers today.

GSA's Federal Technology Service commissioner Sandra Bates testified before the House Government Reform Committee that GSA is taking a closer look at four areas.

The review came after GSA received more than 700 comments from 50 respondents to the Networx request for information last October.

"As for effectiveness of the strategy as embodied in the October RFI, I would readily agree that the proposed October strategy can be improved, and we are committed to improving it," Bates said. "We are still listening and drilling down into each area of the RFI to decide the best way to go. No decisions have been made yet."

Bates said GSA will examine:

  • The continuity requirement. This asks vendors who bid on the Universal phase of the contract to provide the full scope of services nationwide and internationally at all government locations. Bates said GSA would define the continuity requirement more specifically by looking at vendor capabilities and agency needs, and then decide whether GSA should lessen the requirement.

  • Minimum revenue guarantee. The FTS 2001 guarantee was $750 million per contractor, meaning the government committed to spending $1.5 billion on the contract. Bates said her staff would look at commercial best practices and see if a minimum is necessary. "We don't want to put the government at risk if we don't have to," she said. "Many companies said they don't want a guarantee because they will be competitive without it and it may hurt competition."

  • The need for two contracts. Networx would be competed in two phases: the Universal phase and the Select phase. The Select contract lets vendors offer specific service or product niches without being concerned about covering the entire country. GSA expects to compete the contracts nine months apart. Bates said GSA will examine whether two contracts are needed, and whether nine months is an appropriate time frame. She also said her office will look at whether the work could be broken down by functional area instead of the Universal and Select phases, and what, if any, consequences may come from the change.

  • Billing. Bates said this has been a problem for a long time. Most vendors said the requirements in the RFI were too complex, and that changes to their in-house systems would be too costly. Bates said GSA would consider commercial best practices and review existing federal policy. She said two working groups were formed to study this issue?one by the Industry Advisory Council and one by the Interagency Management Council. GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy also will review existing federal regulations.

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