Agencies told to strive for a smooth Networx transition

Government and industry officials urged federal agencies to plan thoroughly for the transition from the govenmentwide telecommunications services contract to the new, complex Networx procurement that will be awarded in 2007 to avoid obstacles similar to those encountered during the previous transition.

They made their comments at the General Services Administration's Networx Transition Summit Sept. 6 and 7 in Reston, Va. As the official kickoff of transition planning, the conference covered the various activities involved. GSA estimated about 1,000 people attended.

GSA's 10-year, $20 billion Networx contract for telecommunications will offer more than 50 core services, whereas the FTS2001 contract offers 27. Networx services include wireless and satellite technologies and videoconferencing.
The transition from the FTS2000 contract to FTS2001 was fraught with complications, such as billing problems. Some federal agencies did not account for everything in their telecom inventories before they switched to another carrier.

"We're trying to provide structure and upfront planning to make [the Networx] transition as smooth as possible," John Johnson, GSA's acting assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services, said on the sidelines at the conference.

Once Networx contracts are awarded, the agencies must consider the offers of all awardees to ensure fairness in choosing a service provider. During the transition, agencies must also ensure they are compliant with Federal Information Security Act requirements. They will have to switch from Internet Protocol version 4 to version 6 by June 2008.

The Networx program has two parts: a Universal part that will supply government locations with a range of telecom services nationwide, and an enterprise part that will offer a mix of specialized Internet protocol or wireless services in specific geographical areas. GSA will issue multiple awards for Universal services in March 2007 and for enterprise services in May 2007.

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