GSA to take fresh approach to securing satellite contracts

The General Services Administration is developing a new satellite services acquisition program, and will be seeking bids by the end of this year.

The Satellite Services Program II, or Satcom II, will replace GSA's existing satellite service contracts, which expire in January 2006. The new procurement will not merely extend the current set of services, said John Johnson, GSA assistant commissioner of service development and delivery.

"Replacement for replacement's sake isn't what I'm after," he said Thursday, speaking at a lunch sponsored by Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va.-based market analysis firm.

Satellite services are an optional part of Networx, GSA's mammoth and ongoing governmentwide acquisition telecommunications procurement. As a result, agency officials are keeping Satcom II's possible effect on Networx in mind as they craft the program, Johnson said.

Satcom II may focus on soliciting bids for four satellite services, Johnson said. They are: satellite transportation services, which include mobile and fixed satellite transmissions; application services such as voice and data communication; design engineering and maintenance; and a small business set-aside for professional support.

"Hopefully we will make awards sometime in the spring," Johnson said. GSA is now evaluating bids on Networx.

In addition, the GSA should finish rethinking its Alliant procurement effort for information technology products and services by Nov. 11, said Johnson, who took control of the effort in August and last month announced a delay in issuing the final request for proposals.

"I think it's good to take that pause and refresh," he said. "I'm not interested in moving it forward too quickly -- I'm interested in moving it forward right." The procurement vehicle must be evaluated in the context of other GSA offerings in order to avoid duplication, "something we call channel confusion," he added.

Although telecom and IT services generally are merging, there still is enough industry stratification between the two to require both Networx and Alliant, Johnson said after the lunch.

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