GSA: Industry comments won't prompt major Networx revisions

Comments on Networx, the General Services Administration's huge telecommunications contract, reflect industry concerns with low minimum revenue guarantees, price management mechanism and other issues.

But none of the comments likely will prompt major revisions in the final request for proposals expected in April, said John Johnson, assistant commissioner for service development and delivery at the agency's Federal Technology Service.

The comments that GSA received in late December in response to the draft RFPs for Networx fell into five categories. Of the 2,501 industry comments, 123 were about the procurement's strategy; 1,371 about technical changes; 506 about management operation; 347 about pricing; and 154 about contracting, Johnson said.

Major carriers, systems integrators and other information technology companies have been eagerly awaiting the 10-year govermentwide Networx contract, estimated to be worth $10 billion-$20 billion, which will replace FTS2001 when it expires next year. Networx is divided into two parts: the Universal portion will provide federal agencies with a wide range of telecom services nationwide, while the Enterprise part will offer a mix of more specialized and localized services. GSA will issue the awards in April 2006.

The responses to the draft RFPs also reflect industry concerns with requirements for operations support systems verifications, and small business goals that could reduce the profits of prime service providers, Johnson said.

But there were no major comments about the approach that GSA is taking with the procurement, Johnson said. GSA will address the questions raised in the comments it its final RFP to be issued in April. However, if GSA decides to make any changes at the strategic level, such as with minimum revenue guarantees, the agency will announce them publicly first, Johnson said.

The House Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), will hold a hearing on the FTS Networx procurement on March 3. The committee has held two previous hearings to gather information from industry and GSA about the Networx procurement. Johnson said he didn't yet know if he or other FTS staff would be called to testify at the March hearing.

A Davis staffer said earlier this week at an American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council roundtable that she wouldn't be surprised if the Networx RFP was delayed, given the current changes taking place in the telecom market.

GSA would consider changing the RFP's issuance date if the agency finds it needs more time, but Johnson said he didn't anticipate any delay with the RFP.

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