On the heels of a draft RFP for NS2020 EIS, the General Services Administration announced a three-year extension to the current telecommunications contract vehicle, Networx.

The Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts were set to expire in 2017 but Tuesday's extension gives agencies until 2020 to transition to the new vehicle.

Awards on NS2020 EIS are expected in January 2017, when agencies can begin transitioning to the new contracts. All agencies buying off EIS will have to be fully transitioned by May 2020.

"We are working with existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contractors to complete the modifications to extend the contracts so they will be available in parallel with the EIS contracts for three years after the EIS award," Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of Integrated Technology Services, wrote in a blog post announcing the extension. "The three-year extension and transition period will also give agencies flexibility as they balance internal resources between transition activities and other agency priorities."

Davie noted this aligns with the EIS strategy to provide a flexible contract vehicle for agencies and industry.

"You have some like FAA that go buy bits and pieces and then they want to put it together themselves ... and then you have the major enterprise players like DHS," said Fred Haine, EIS program manager. On the other side, "Industry has always come back and said, 'You've got to be more commercial. You can't kill us the way you have in the past on these very, very unique, very, very structured, predefined, pre-engineered solutions,' because that's not necessarily how government wants to buy."

Haines said he has been working directly with the transition manager to incorporate the lessons learned from Networx in the EIS RFP and, eventually, the new vehicle.

"So we've tried to take that into account," he said. "Everybody wants flexibility, everybody wants agility, everybody wants a vehicle that's a whole lot easier to use than it was last time."

Agencies contracted some $1.5 billion through Networx in 2014, according to GSA.