DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers

Wednesday - 12/9/2009, 6:24pm EST

Everybody pretty much saw this coming — with so many agencies… is dragging their feet too strong… how about — having failed to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract, Sens. Lieberman and Collins of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have asked the Office of Management and Budget why… and what they’re doing about it.

Essentially, they are asking for answers to three questions:

1. What action s has OMB taken to assist the transition to Networx?
2. Why have agencies delayed the transition from FTS200 I to Networx?
3. What remedial actions can agency managers take to ensure transition activities are taken before the current contracts expire?

The full letter is posted below.

I mentioned that I got to moderate an AFFIRM pannel billed as Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition, & Beyond. We had a great group:

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Interior Department (bio);
Karl Krumbholz, Director, Network Services Programs, GSA Integrated Technology Solutions (bio)
Michael Brown, Executive Director, IT Services Office, Homeland Security Department (bio);
Mike Ponti, Director, Strategic Resources Planning, ASD/NII, Defense Department (bio)
Bhagowalia and Krumbholz focused on the strategic issues of the transition, while Brown and Ponti focused on the tactical issues — what are the challenges to making this happen.

Bhagowalia and Krumbholz gave a lot of information about how the CIO Council and GSA are really working with agencies to urge… push… cajole… encourage agencies to move from FTS 2001 to Networx.

You can see the PowerPoint slides here:

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller was at the session and you can read and hear his report here:

The General Services Administration is giving agencies four extra months to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract.

GSA has set Aug. 30, 2010 as the new and final drop-dead-date for agencies to hire one of five vendors and begin moving their voice, video and data services from the FTS 2001 contract to Networx.

“We will not make the January or April deadlines so we’ve decided to move them both back to Aug. 30,” says Karl Krumbholz, GSA’s director of the Office of Network Services Program in the Federal Acquisition Service. “Our carriers told us even as of the April deadline was causing them concern over whether or not they could actually transition orders in that length of time. So it’s problematic even August to the extent they would get all the work done.”

Agencies had to tell GSA by January if they needed parallel operations during their transition between the two contracts. And then departments had until April to make their award decisions in order to receive money from GSA for their transition costs.

Here is the story from NextGov:

GSA pushes back Networx deadlines
By Gautham Nagesh 11/19/2009

The General Services Administration has extended two intermediate deadlines for agencies switching to the Networx telecommunications contract, but an observer said it remains unlikely that they will finish the move by June 2011, when services under the previous arrangement will expire.

GSA is giving agencies until August 2010 to pick a Networx vendor and begin changing services, said Karl Krumbholz, director of the network services program at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Originally they had until January 2010 to request funding and until April 2010 to submit their orders. The extension comes in response to a request from the Interagency Management Council steering committee, chaired by Interior Department Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia.

Read the full story here.
Meanwhile, here is the release from Lieberman and Collins:

LIEBERMAN, COLLINS SAY STRONGER LEADERSHIP NEEDED FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS SWITCH
Agency Transition Delays Cost Taxpayers $18 Million Per Month

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday pushed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to exert stronger leadership in federal agencies’ transitions to new telecommunications services.

The new services, provided by contracts under the General Services Administration’s Networx program, are expected to save the federal government millions of dollars but instead are costing taxpayers money as agencies delay transitioning to the new system. Networx will provide telephone, network and cyber security services to agencies.

A letter to OMB outlining the Senators’ concerns follows:

The Honorable Jeffrey D. Zients
Deputy Director of Management and Chief Performance Officer
Office of Management and Budget
7257′” Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20503