The Justice Department is taking steps to modernize its network technology via the General Services Administration’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.
The EIS contract will lay the groundwork for further cloud transformation and software-defined networking technology at the department.
Agencies face two clear choices when using EIS to upgrade. One is a “like for like” transition, in which agencies would move to services under EIS that are similar to those they use now. The other route is “modernization,” in which agencies would jump forward technologically to solutions such as SDN and 5G wireless networks.
“It’s not like for like,” Stacy Schwartz, vice president of public safety and FirstNet at AT&T, tells FCW. “They’re looking at evolution and requirements for technology over 15 years.”
Schwartz tells FCW that the contract is “a well thought out path to modernization” for the agency, and it leverages the cloud, as well as mobility in particular.
DOJ Seeks to Deploy SDN Technology
According to a press release, the fully managed solution “includes a breadth of networking capabilities, including IP voice, data, security, cloud access and professional services” and “will serve as a catalyst for the DOJ’s long-term technology priorities.”
AT&T argues that the contract will provide DOJ “the flexibility and protections to meet their requirements as they aim to strike the right balance between needs to access cloud services from multiple providers and ensuring the access is highly secure.”
DOJ’s upgraded network will help simplify cloud adoption across 43 component organizations and support the agency’s Joint Cloud Optimized Trusted Internet Connection Service. That service will allow DOJ to adopt multiple cloud environments and gain access to increased cloud security, reliability and speed.
The DOJ contract also includes access to the AT&T mobility network and FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband communications network.
“To give you a sense of the scope on this contract, it’s everything from software-defined networking, managed network services, managed security services, mobility services and voice services — both legacy and IP voice services,” Schwartz tells IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It can also potentially include the management structure around all of those, as well. And that’s just a sampling of it.”
Schwartz says that the contract allows AT&T to showcase its whole range of networking solutions for the DOJ so that it can integrate them to support end users.
“It’s not just a product or a particular service; we’re able to integrate all of our solutions into a meaningful offer for the Department of Justice,” she says.
Some components of the DOJ, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are already using FirstNet. “What’s interesting here is that we’ll be able to use FirstNet in a variety of different situations,” she said.
Agencies Make Progress on EIS Awards
Agencies are making progress on the transition to EIS, a GSA spokesperson told FedTech this spring, and are “working hard, with support from GSA, to finalize their solicitations and get them released to industry as soon as possible.”
Agencies are striving toward meeting the deadline of Sept. 30, to award EIS task orders, the spokesperson adds. That date is the deadline for agencies to award EIS task orders. On March 31, 2020, the GSA will limit the use of the extended contracts for agencies that have not made task order awards.
“Not making this deadline is a yellow light,” Laura Stanton, the GSA’s deputy assistant commissioner for category management in the IT category at GSA, said in remarks at an ACT-IAC conference on May 8, according to FCW.
If an agency misses the Sept. 30 deadline to award an EIS task order, the GSA will increase its efforts with that agency to move to EIS, according to Stanton, and will work directly with that agency to see how it can aid in the transition.
According to FCW, while the September deadline is important, Stanton said that the March 2020 deadline is critical, and if agencies miss that target date, the light “will go from yellow to red.”
By that point, “agencies may not have the time to make the transition” within the three-year window. According to the GSA, by March 31, 2022, 90 percent of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off current contracts and moved to EIS. And on May 31, 2023, current Networx, WITS and LSA telecom contracts expire.