Q&A about Connections II

Interview with Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner for Integrated Technology Services within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service

FCW: How does Connections II fit into GSA’s portfolio of telecommunications and IT contract vehicles?

Davie: At $22 billion, GSA’s FAS Office of Integrated Technology Services has the largest portfolio of IT and telecommunications contracts in government. Our portfolio of contracts provides a full-spectrum of end-to-end IT solutions. Connections II is designed to deliver IT telecommunications infrastructure that is unique to buildings and campuses. This contract provides  labor and equipment capability that is outside the scope of Networx, yet is designed to act as an integrator coordinating work across Networx and other regional telecommunications service contracts.

FCW: How has Connections II improved upon Connections I?

Davie: Connections II builds upon the flexibility of Connections I with expanded coverage and new features. Connections II delivers global coverage to meet agency needs anywhere around the world. The contract integrates Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) principles to ensure that equipment is not counterfeit and is not tampered with as it passes through a trackable and traceable supply chain. Connections II also provides sustainable infrastructure offerings, including products and services that reduce energy consumption, contribute less toxicity and less waste to the environment. As standards and best practices in these areas continue to evolve, Connections II will evolve as well.

FCW: Are there any misconceptions about Connections II that agencies may have?

Davie: One misconception is that Connections II products and services only apply to the four solution sets identified: Communications & Networking, Building or Campus Facility Preparation, Operations, Administration & Management (OA&M) and Customer Service & Technical Support. However, the solution sets are only meant to serve as examples of the scope of services offered and they do not represent limitations on the products and services offered.

Another misconception of note is that agencies have sometimes not clearly distinguished Connections II from [GSA] Schedules and have tried to use the same fair opportunity approach. Note that Connections II is a multi-award ID/IQ contract based on FAR part 15.505.

FCW: What advantages or benefits does Connections II offer federal agencies?

Davie: New features and pre-qualified contractors have been added to the Connections II contract vehicle. It also integrates with Networx and other regional service contracts to provide a complete end-to-end solution for telecommunications. Ease of use and enhanced integration capabilities of Connections II are expected to continue the tradition of repeat usage from agencies. Two out of every three new task orders issued under the original Connections contract came from existing customers. Many of these customers are currently in the task order bidding phase on Connections II and awards are expected soon.

Agencies will continue to have the capability to meet their small business procurement goals through Connections II. Forty-two percent of awardees on Connections II are small business vendors. The goal of fair opportunity process on the contract is to consider all industry partners equally. In the past this has resulted in small businesses receiving a nearly equal amount of the business volume on the contract, a practice we expect to continue.