Where Does EIS Stand Today?

Published: January 29, 2020

GSAInformation TechnologyNetwork ServicesTelecommunications

EIS shows promise in modernizing agency telecommunications infrastructure, yet a slow start and agency lack of participation in upgraded plans, reveal the vehicle is not yet being used to its full potential.

This day and age, it is important- no, quite critical - for federal agencies to be data-driven in their operations and decisions. Nevertheless, a sound infrastructure in which that data moves is just as important.

Enter the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) vehicle.

In July 2017, GSA awarded EIS to nine vendors, a mix of small and large businesses, as a comprehensive solution for agency IT telecommunications and infrastructure requirements. EIS will replace Networx, and other GSA regional and local service contracts, to provide a surplus of mobile and network services including managed network, mobility, unified communications and wireless services. EIS vendor solutions and services are pre-vetted and market-proven, earning the vehicle a Best-in-Class (BIC) designation.

Hopes for Modernization

The attraction of EIS, in addition to its highly rated and encompassing approach, is its ability to fundamentally modernize the federal mobile and network environment in multiple ways, offering:

  • An integrated enterprise network approach for an all-digital network to any device, anywhere, any time.
  • A catalog approach to wireless and managed mobility services allows agencies access to the most current devices and services in the market and customizable device/service combinations.
  • Unlimited and complete coverage of mobile devices and services.
  • Assistance in software-defined network adoption and network function virtualization

Despite the available avenues of modernization with EIS, many agencies are opting to take “like-for-like” approaches, simply replacing the current telecommunication infrastructure and services they already have. A recent article reports that lawmakers are placing pressure on agencies to utilize EIS for upgrades and " ‘cutting edge’ networking capabilities, such as software-defined networking, cloud computing, unified communications and cybersecurity capabilities to reduce costs as much as 20%.” Two agencies in particular, USDA and Treasury, were called out by Congress to leverage the modernized options under EIS.

One bright spot in the use of EIS for modernization is the Department of Justice. Last summer, the agency awarded AT&T an EIS task order worth $984M over 15 years for an enterprise-wide modernization effort that will include IP voice, data, security, cloud access and professional services. The task order enables additional capabilities, such as software-defined networking, managed network services and managed security services.

Delayed Transitions

Still, this fairy tale vehicle is off to a slow start. GSA has already had to extend the expiration dates of the legacy contracts through May 2023 to allow agencies more time to completely transition over to EIS. Few agencies met the September 30, 2019 deadline to issue EIS task orders and GSA is now using the next deadline of March 31, 2020 to limit agency use on extended contracts, particularly on those agencies that have not issued any task orders under EIS.

During a recent EIS Workshop, the reasons mentioned for the slow transition include getting agency personnel registered and using in the Contractor Business Support System, ill-defined project scopes, necessary equipment not budgeted for, and identifying critical infrastructure and sites that are dependent on others to ensure network connectivity. Yikes.

Spending under EIS

Despite the slow start on EIS, there is still some spending done under the vehicle that we can observe to see how the contract is taking shape. Further acquisition and spending details on EIS can also be found under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) opportunity report in GovWin IQ’s database.  The opportunity report offers additional contract spending analysis than the below charts including company, place of performance and a bird’s eye view of all agency spending.

For our purposes here, we will look at overall spending by fiscal year and the top five agencies in spend:

Observations:

  • Awarded vendors did not begin to receive Authority to Operate (ATO) until FY 2019, hence why spending ramps up in FY 2019.
  • The majority of FY 2019 spend ($60M) took place in Q4.
  • Verizon Communications sees the most spend under EIS, so far, with $34M, followed by CenturyLink at $23M and AT&T at $15M.
  • The largest task order obligated under EIS to date is $19M to transition toll free services at the IRS.
  • Spending seen under SSA is a result of a pair of task orders awarded in September, totaling over $1B, to Verizon and CenturyLink for data network services.
  • The only EIS spending done by DOD thus far is due to a DISA task order for DOD’s Education Activity Global Network.

As of December 2019, all nine vendors received their ATOs to begin work under EIS. That, coupled with the March 31, 2020 deadline, will likely cause spending under EIS to increase and diversify among companies. However, based on what has happened under EIS thus far, one must wonder if the transition to EIS will mirror that of the slow transition that occurred with Networx. Regardless, it will certainly be interesting to see how, and which, agencies will take advantage of the opportunities under EIS to update their infrastructure to match capabilities that already exist in the private sector today.