GSA pulls Treasury into the Networx fold
Agreement provides reduced service fees and shared protester costs
The General Services Administration finally got the Treasury Department to toe the line on procuring telecommunications and network services.
Through an agreement signed by both agencies last month, Treasury agreed to cancel its departmentwide contract and sign up for GSA's governmentwide acquisition vehicle, Networx, in exchange for considerations such as a reduced administrative fee, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by GCN.
A GSA spokesman said the agency informed congressional committees of the agreement after the parties signed it. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is looking at it, a committee spokeswoman said. She offered no further comment.
The day after Treasury signed the agreement, it dropped the Treasury Communications Enterprise contract for next-generation network services, after years of contention with the Office of Management and Budget and Congress over going it alone.
Under the deal, GSA will share in costs due the bidders, reduce by half Treasury's Networx service fees and give Treasury the ability to place orders under Networx within 30 days of the contract being awarded.
Some experts have questioned GSA's use of certain incentives.
Slashing Treasury's fee by 50 percent is a lot, said Bob Woods, president of Topside Consulting and a former commissioner of GSA's Federal Technology Service. 'It brings into question how many times they will face the same issue as they move forward.'
Woods also questioned use of GSA's revenue from agency fees to offset costs Treasury could incur as a result of vendor protests over TCE's cancellation.
'I'm not sure you can take money collected from other agencies' fees and use it to defend another agency,' Woods said. 'I believe the oversight groups, the inspectors general and Government Accountability Office will have a hard time seeing this as an appropriate use of money.'
GSA's offer to allow Treasury to place orders within 30 days also seems to be questionable, Woods said. It usually takes about 60 days after a contract award because of administrative requirements.
Networx is designed to provide an architecture to ultimately transform government into a seamless, secure and interoperable telecommunications environment, said John Johnson, GSA's assistant commissioner for integrated technology services.
'It's a compromise end to a bad situation,' said Woods.