Networx off to a crawl

The majority of federal agencies that want to install new telecommunications systems under the General Services Administration's Networx contracts have missed the Sept. 30 funding deadline, Federal Times reports.

Only 15 percent of the 135 agencies using Networx for their telecom services have chosen a carrier, putting 85 percent of agencies at risk of not having new services in place by the time the current contract expires.

Realizing many agencies weren't close to meeting the deadline, GSA allowed agencies to apply for an exemption to permit them to obtain transition funding as long as they agreed to place orders by the April 2010 transition deadline. The deadline for the waiver was also Sept. 30, and 69 percent of agencies missed that milestone, too.

Karl Krumbholz, director of GSA's Network Services Programs, said he didn't know why the agencies missed the deadline and didn't respond to waiver opportunities.

The danger in missing the Sept. 30 deadline is not just the loss of reimbursement funds for one-time transition costs agencies will incur if they change vendors. Funding was the carrot to get agencies to move along quickly so they aren't left without services when the old contract expires. During the last major telecom transition in 2000, it took agencies two years to convert their services to new vendors, Krumbholz said. From Sept. 30, agencies had less than 20 months left to get on board.

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