GSA: Industry comments won't prompt major Networx revisions

GSA: Industry comments won't prompt major Networx revisions

Comments on Networx, the General Services Administration's huge telecommunications contract, reflect industry concerns about low minimum revenue guarantees, price management mechanisms and other issues.

But none of the comments likely will prompt major revisions in the final request for proposals expected in April, said John Johnson, assistant commissioner for service development and delivery at the agency's Federal Technology Service.

The comments GSA received in late December in response to the draft RFP for Networx fell into five categories. Of the 2,501 industry comments, 123 were about the procurement's strategy; 1,371 about technical changes; 506 about management operation; 347 about pricing; and 154 about contracting, Johnson said.

Major carriers, systems integrators and other IT companies have been eagerly awaiting the 10-year govermentwide Networx contract, estimated to be worth $10 billion to $20 billion, which will replace FTS 2001 when it expires next year. Networx is divided into two parts: The Universal portion will provide federal agencies with a wide range of telecom services nationwide, while the Enterprise part will offer a mix of more specialized and localized services. GSA will issue the awards in April 2006.

Responses to the draft RFP also reflect industry concerns with requirements for operations support systems verifications, and small business goals that could reduce the profits of prime service providers, Johnson said.

But there were no major concerns about the approach GSA is taking with the procurement, Johnson said. GSA will address the questions raised in the comments in its final RFP to be issued in April. But if GSA decides to make any changes at the strategic level, such as with minimum revenue guarantees, the agency will announce them publicly first, Johnson said.

The House Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), will hold a hearing on the FTS Networx procurement on March 3. The committee has held two previous hearings to gather information from industry and GSA about Networx. Johnson said he didn't yet know if he or other FTS staff would be called to testify at the March hearing.

A Davis staffer said earlier this week at an American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council roundtable that she wouldn't be surprised if the Networx RFP was delayed, given the current changes taking place in the telecom market.

GSA would consider changing the RFP's issuance date if the agency finds it needs more time, but Johnson said he didn't anticipate any delay with the RFP.

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