Contract Watch

Verizon's contract 'garden' growing more than nicely

Its impressive streak of contract wins includes Networx contracts and large Defense Department projects.

When you bid on government jobs, there’s nothing quick or easy about it. Weeks and months can go by with no payoff and no promise of one ever materializing. And then suddenly, one after another, the awards start rolling in. And next thing you know, your business unit is posting second quarter returns up 3 percent compared to last year. That’s the kind of spring and summer Verizon Business is having.

March brought Verizon Federal a $2.5 billion award under the Defense Information Systems Network Transmission Services-Pacific II for managed transmission services for the Pacific-region Defense Information Network System.

The carrier started July with a $245 million Washington Interagency Telecommunications System award from the Health and Human Services Department for voice, data and collaboration services; audio, video and Web conferencing; dedicated voice mail; and professional services. The contract’s value to Verizon could soar higher during implementation because HHS can order additional services, including security software and professional services.

In the coming months, even the General Services Administration’s slower-than-molasses Networx telecommunications contract might show renewed life.

“We've seen several awards made over the past month, and we still anticipate some, and there are still some that have yet to be bid,” said Susan Zeleniak, Verizon Federal group president.

In late July, the Social Security Administration tapped Verizon as the primary contractor on a $220 million Networx award. Verizon will get about $140 million for handling primary IP and data services tasks for SSA and continuing to manage the agency’s Enterprise-Wide Network Infrastructure wide-area network via two network operations centers. As secondary contractor, AT&T Government Solutions will get the remaining $80 million.

“Our biggest win recently was the Social Security Administration,” Zeleniak said, “but we also won business with the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Education and Commerce [Department]; those are just agencies where we've been announced the winner in Networx.”

Although Commerce has yet to declare an estimated value for its fair-opportunity awards to Verizon, it has named the carrier to handle a range of mostly voice services for more than a dozen subagencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, National Telecommunications Information Administration, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Networx rival AT&T similarly swept piecemeal State Department Networx awards.

“I think agencies do have a goal to make their awards this calendar year,” Zeleniak said. “I figure it's going to be a very busy six months; there are still several [agency Networx decisions] to be awarded.”

Possible orders to provide agencies with Managed Trusted IP Services are among the potential opportunities. In June, Verizon won a Networx contract modification as an MTIPS provider, joining the other certified Networx MTIPS providers: AT&T, Qwest Communications International Inc. and Sprint Nextel.

Last year, most large agencies won the right to provide their own Trusted Internet Connections services. But “just because an agency can provide its own services doesn’t necessarily mean it will,” said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc.

“That’s a good way to put it,” Zeleniak said. “And we are starting to hear from some of those agencies. What we're finding is that, while they secured the approval to provide it themselves, they are still looking at the commercial solutions being provided by ourselves and AT&T, Qwest and Sprint.”

Agencies might find it beneficial not to take the do-it-yourself route, Suss said. “If agencies are doing it themselves, first, they have to engineer the service, and just reducing the number of connections is not an easy task. So there’s a trade-off between the price of the service and the gain to be had from outsourcing of that headache."

“And second, even though GSA has negotiated a good price [on Networx], the larger agencies would have the clout to drive the price down even further,” he said.

The cloud cometh

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra chafed at the 18 months to two years he said it could take for government to get cloud computing technology and services available today in the private sector. To help speed federal adoption of the technology, he proposed a storefront to let agencies buy cloud computing technology.

That’s fine, Zeleniak said, but the technology and services are also available now via a Networx menu. “When GSA wrote the requirements for Networx, they were very forward-thinking about the kinds of services that agencies might need,” she said. Although the agency might not have had cloud computing in mind, she said, the customer-specific design and engineering contract line item provides the means to implement it. Verizon will be presenting a white paper that explains how that works at GSA’s conference in Chicago this month, she said.

“Cloud computing does not necessarily have to be provided by the same carrier that's providing your circuits,” Zeleniak said. “Access into the cloud is only one piece; there are a variety of services having to do with security, data centers, hosting, storage — all of which are available on Networx."

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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