Industry wants more time for Networx

With only a month to go before issuing the final request for proposals for the FTS Networx telecommunications contract, several industry officials told House lawmakers that more changes need to be made and some even want a second set of draft RFPs released.

But the General Services Administration is balking at the request.

Shelley Murphy, vice president of federal sales for Verizon Communications Inc.'s enterprise solutions division, told the House Government Reform Committee that industry needs a second set of draft RFPs to comment on changes made since the first draft was released in November.

Networx is a two-part telecommunications program worth up to $20 billion. One part, Universal, will be for nationwide telecom services, while the second part, Enterprise, is for more niche telecom offerings. Each part will have its own RFP.

GSA wants to issue the final RFPs on April 1, and has no intention of veering from that schedule, said Stephen Perry, GSA Administrator, who testified at the hearing.

But with more than 2,500 comments on the draft RFPs, GSA should take more time, some industry officials said.

Verizon "is concerned that the procurement may move forward too quickly in order to meet an artificial deadline," Murphy said.

Jerry Hogge, senior vice president and general manager, government markets at Level 3 Communications LLC, also said there should be a second round of draft RFPs before the final proposals are released.

The agency needs to increase the minimum revenue guarantee for Enterprise portion to encourage vigorous participation, he said. GSA also should define a clear process to guarantee competition among the Enterprise and Universal winners as well as spell out how bids will be evaluated and how the results will be tracked and communicated.

But not all members of industry called for a delay or believed that GSA had to make significant changes to Networx.

Robert Collet, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer of AT&T Government Solutions, said that "GSA got it right" with the procurement. A delayed RFP would result in a loss of the cost-savings that would likely be reaped from the competition for the Networx awards, he said.

GSA expects roughly 40 companies will bid on the RFPs, said John Johnson, assistant commission for service development and delivery at GSA's Federal Technology Service, who also testified at the hearing.

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