‘Difficult’ Work Ahead on Telecommunications Transition, GAO Says

Federal agencies are facing a “difficult task” in transitioning their telecommunications services to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions that will replace the current telecommunications contracts in 2020, GAO has said.

“This transition is expected to involve more than 135 agencies, about 32 types of services, and thousands of voice and data circuits,” said a report, adding that GSA’s guidance to agencies on the transition addresses only 17 of its 35 previously identified lessons learned for such transitions. Two were deemed not appropriate, nine were partially addressed and the others were not addressed at all.

For example, GSA’s guidance did not address the previous lesson that agencies should not assume that a transition to a new contract with the same vendor will be easier than a change in vendors.

“By not including all lessons learned in its plans and guidance to agencies, GSA limits agencies’ ability to plan for actions that will need to be taken later in the transition. As a result, agencies face an increased risk that they could repeat prior mistakes, including those that could result in schedule delays or unnecessary costs,” GAO said.

In a closer look at selected agencies–Agriculture, Labor, Transportation, SEC and SSA–GAO found that they “have yet to fully apply most of the five planning practices previously identified by GAO as key to a successful telecommunications transition.” These include developing inventories; incorporating strategic needs into transition planning; developing a structured transition-management approach; identifying resources necessary for the transition; and establishing transition processes and measures of success.

GAO recommended that GSA disseminate guidance that includes all agency-directed lessons learned and that those agencies complete adoption of those planning practices.