Will agencies start to modernize their telecom in time?

Some federal agencies are not going to make the Sept. 30 deadline to award GSA’s new Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program contracts, according to Allen Hill, director of GSA’s Office of Telecommunication Services.

“That’s okay,” Hill said, speaking at an American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council event Aug. 21. “We’ve talked at the executive level with agencies” about it.

The EIS contract is a new telecommunications contract by GSA that is weaning agencies off of legacy telecom contracts. GSA writes that the contract structure will “improve how the federal government modernizes legacy IT and telecommunications infrastructure.”

Hill said that leaders at one agency realized they didn’t have the proper modernization in place in their solicitation. That agency, he said, pulled their solicitation back and redid it with more modernization incorporated. Hill applauded the anonymous agency for taking the step.

“That’s important,” he said. If they did not pull the contract back, that “defeats the whole purpose of the transition.”

There are currently nine companies included in the contract that is meant to serve as the go-to contract for enterprise telecommunications and networking solutions. The multiple award contracts are potentially worth $50 billion over 15 years.

Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T have received their ATOs. Some of the telecom providers in the mix for the EIS solutions are still awaiting their authorization to operate. The remainder will get their ATOs soon, Hill said.

“We have several companies right now right in the mix of getting their ATOs here in the next month and the rest in the next two months,” Hill said.

Hill said that more and more agencies are preparing for the EIS transition and that agencies need to be meticulous in laying out what they need.

“It’s extremely important to be deliberate in the beginning,” Hill said. “Because there’s a lot of mission needs that agencies have and they’re complex.”

As the process continues to move forward, Hill said that one of his team’s most important roles in the process is being able to “fill the gaps” after the solicitations are out and the agencies start transitioning, a hypothetical that he said is “going to happen.”

Gaps, he said, include events like agencies realizing they need more services from the vendor that they left out.

“We’re going to be very closely tied with each of these offices to make sure that if there’s anything missing, we’re immediately providing support to ensure those gaps are filled,” Hill said.

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