GSA to agencies: Think ahead to Networx transition

Even though the Networx governmentwide acquisition contract will not be awarded until next year, agencies interested in using the telecommunications vehicle would be wise to start planning their transition now, General Services Administration officials said.

'The time for planning and transitioning is right now,' Jim Williams, commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, said after his speech kicking off the agency's Networx Transition Summit in Reston, Va.

Williams and other GSA officials stressed that the transition to Networx from the agency's expiring telecommunications GWAC'FTS 2001'will be difficult because the number of services offered under Networx will far surpass those currently being offered.

This means agencies must take careful inventory of their existing network services to ensure that everything they have can be transitioned and updated under the new contract.

Because of the new services, agencies must be sure that they are still in compliance with a number of regulations, including the Federal Information Security Management Act and Internet Protocol version 6, panelists said.

'Transitions are very difficult and require planning and involvement from everyone',' said Karl Krumbholz, former Networx program manager and current acting assistant commissioner for GSA's Office of Service Delivery. 'This will not be easy and we don't have all the answers.' But 'we're moving forward and will be able to start the transition as scheduled.'

The Networx program is a governmentwide contract vehicle for purchasing telecommunications and network services. It is divided into a Universal part'which will supply government locations with a broad range of services nationwide'and an Enterprise part, which will offer a mix of specialized Internet protocol or wireless services in specific geographical areas.

GSA expects to award the Universal part in March, with Enterprise following in May.

The Homeland Security Department will take the first task order under the Universal contract, said Tony Cira, director of Information Operations for the Office of the CIO. DHS has already set up a FISMA review team to make sure the services it will take under Networx will be compliant with the information security law, Cira said.

Agencies should monitor the DHS transition as they prepare to make their own, he said.

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