Bigger scope means bigger Networx price tag

By adding new technologies and services to the scope of the government's next-generation telecommunications contract, the General Services Administration has doubled the contract's potential value to $20 billion.

The Federal Technology Service detailed the changes in the recently released draft FTS Networx solicitation documents. GSA plans to issue the final requests for proposals'there are two'by this April and award Networx contracts by April 2006. The agency will accept comments on the draft RFPs until Dec. 22.

John Johnson, assistant FTS commissioner for service development and delivery, said the bigger price tag reflects the length of the contract, the wider portfolio of services, estimated customer-buying patterns and growth prospects.

The draft solicitation materials illustrate the increasing blurriness between services offered by the telecom and IT industries. Among the services that do not historically fall within telecom but are included in Networx are management and application services such as storage, collaboration support and unified messaging.

Security is another area where Networx goes beyond traditional telecom, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc. of Jenkintown, Pa. Managed firewalls and intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and secure managed e-mail will be available via Networx.

FTS plans on making multiple awards in two categories:
  • Universal: for companies offering nationwide service; mainly mandatory requirements

  • Enterprise: for companies that offer specialized telecommunications or network services but do not have nationwide coverage; a handful of mandatory requirements.

GSA plans to award contracts with four-year base periods and three two-year options each.
One part of the two Networx RFPs that remains undefined is the Section M evaluation criteria.
Suss said he was surprised that the decision factors have not yet been spelled out. 'It might be to the advantage of FTS to publish the evaluation criteria early,' he said. 'That's likely to get a lot of reaction from industry.'

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