Insight into Winning a Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS) Contract
Nigel Thacker | February 23, 2015
Market research for NS2020 has been in process since 2012, and has included stakeholder interviews, market trend analysis and best practice identification. Agencies and vendors alike have identified deficiencies and shortcomings of predecessor contracts. One of the major concerns is, and has been, the difficulty in ordering the correct services from the overwhelming number of contract line items.
With a focus on flexibility, interoperability and converged IP services, vendors must be able to meet all technical requirements with minimal delivery delays and at a low cost. Service bundling; rapid, low-cost expansion; and off-the-shelf proven and readily available equipment will aid in the vendors ability to perform.
Under Network there are 18,000 line items; the GSA could reduce that to as few as 3,000 to 4,000 items depending on mandatory service requirements, service bundling opportunities, and vendor-proposed options. For example, vendors are to propose optional installation and maintenance for equipment, and security services as a basic capability or an optional feature of the voice and data services.
Service transition has always been a concern of the GSA and users. History has proven service transition is not only costly, but in many cases will cause service outages or degradation, and cannot be performed in a timely manner. The EIS portion of NS2020 is planning for a three-year transition from Networx. A solid transition approach based on vendor experience, proven past performance, and a manageable schedule will be paramount in the GSA’s award decisions.
Bid to Win a NIS Contract
The GSA is currently planning an award scenario that proposes two tiers of bidders, based on geographic scope: Those able to offer global coverage, and domestic regional bidders. As a means of enticing vendors, in particular large integrators, to bid, GSA expects EIS contracts will last for up to 15 years.
To address user dissatisfaction with previous contracts that forced agencies to order services through highly specific contract line items, the EIS RFI describes a potential return to bundled ordering by agencies.
The RFI also describes a set of mandatory voice and data services, with bidders given the option to propose optional services – but with contract evaluation based on mandatory services alone.
To be considered for an award, vendors must clearly describe how they will achieve the following, and how the vendors approach will provide benefits to the government: (1) Lower overall costs to the government through reduced acquisition costs and increased savings through aggregated volume buying, enabling agencies to move to a fully outsourced managed services or cloud model as well as to maintain a self-managed infrastructure model; (2) Accommodate a comprehensive range of government purchasing patterns from enterprise-wide procurements to quick turnaround buys, enabling procurement of integrated solutions; (3) Provide agility and flexibility to foster competition and promote small business participation; and, (4) Facilitate a seamless and timely transition to provide needed, value-added support services.
Although the Government has stated they aim to release the final RFP in quarter 2 of FY2015, they were still working on strategy as of February 13. Anyone with questions can contact John Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-689-9600.