Vendors, users tepid response to GSN 2.0 proposal

Some vendors who attended the State Services Commission’s initial briefing on a replacement for the Government Shared Network (GSN) were less than impressed.

“A complete and utter waste of time,” said one.

”The GSN you’re having when you’re not having a GSN,” said another.

The GSN was axed by the government last month on the grounds that it was financially unsustainable. The network had been losing $700,000 a month since becoming operational in September 2007. State Services indicated in early March that it planned to lead a syndicated telecommunication network services project to replace the services provided by the GSN.

Vendors at the briefing were told of an aggressive time frame for the replacement project.

“A request for proposal will be issued on April 2, contracts will be signed by June 30 and the GSN totally decommissioned by November 30,” says one.

“It’s a very tight time frame. It looks like they’re looking for a managed service partner other than IBM.”

Another vendor was of the opinion that there was little new — other than dates — in the briefing.

“They haven’t actually terminated the GSN — it’s just a device.”

Vendors say they were told 200 government agencies were eligible to join the new project, however, only seven had already signed memoranda of understanding to do so. One of the problems with the original GSN was the lack of uptake by large government departments.

The briefing was led by Government Technology Services, the operational unit announced last year that reports through the Department of Internal Affairs.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a tender for an international intranet.

It currently uses AT&T, but that contract is due to expire within a few months.

MFAT leads the project, which includes network services for departments such as Labour and Trade and Enterprise.

Asked whether there would be any linkage to the replacement for the GSN, Government CIO Laurence Millar says he doesn’t see much of a link between the two networks, but that “it would be helpful to have a bridge”.

He wouldn’t comment on the two inquiries into the GSN: one into the consultancy Voco, which was involved in delivering services and architecture for the GSN (Voco was represented at the briefing for the replacement for the GSN); the other being a broader inquiry into the project.

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