GSA unveils new Networx strategy

The General Services Administration has revamped its strategy for the huge Networx telecommunciations contract and expects to release a pair of draft requests for proposals on Nov. 1, GSA officials said this morning.

The agency is adhering to its original strategy of splitting Networx into two contracts: Universal and Enterprise. Universal is for companies that offer nationwide telecommunications services, and Enterprise, which earlier was called Select, is for other companies that offer specialized telecommunications services but don't necessarily have a nationwide reach.

Final RFPs will be released April 1, 2005. Awards are expected in April 2006. The contract is expected to have a ceiling of $10 billion.

GSA plans to award Universal and Enterprise contracts simultaneously, said Karl Krumbholz, Networx program manager. Under the original strategy, Universal was to be awarded first and Enterprise awards were to follow in about nine months. In comments to GSA, industry complained that the winners of Universal would have an unfair advantage.

Both portions of Networx will have multiple winners. The contracts will be for four years with three, two-year options, Krumbholz said.

The minimum revenue guarantees will be small for both contracts, he said.

The likely bidders for the Universal portion of Networx are large nationwide telecommunications carriers such as AT&T Corp., MCI Inc. and Sprint Corp. MCI and Sprint are the incumbents on FTS 2001, the contract that Networx is replacing.

The Enterprise portion will attract bidders offering new technologies and specialized telecommunications solutions. Many systems integrators have expressed interest in bidding on this portion of Networx.

Responding to industry concerns, GSA is changing billing and pricing requirements and entry requirements. The agency also dropped its ubiquity of service requirement for the Universal portion. Instead, GSA wants continuity of service, that is, the ability to reach all government wire centers across the United States as well as internationally, Krumbholz said.

Agencies can use GSA schedules along with Networx for telecommunications services, he said.

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