By James Mitchell, FirstNet Senior Program Manager for Operations
Last month, FirstNet posted its final set of answers to the more than 650 questions we received regarding the Special Notice and draft Request for Proposals (RFP) documents. This capped off five weeks of posting responses on a weekly basis to ensure that the entities and individuals that submitted questions got their answers in a timely manner. We were pleased to beat our own internal deadline by a day. It was especially important to FirstNet to get the information out to respondents expediently in order to inform the comments, capabilities statements, and Operational Architecture (OA) inputs that were due to FirstNet this past Tuesday, July 27th.
Once again, the same team that responded to those questions and is developing the RFP has a new task at hand: to catalog, analyze, and in some cases, address the more than 175 comments, capabilities statements, and OA inputs into the RFP. Unlike the first phase of questions and answers in this acquisition process, however, FirstNet will not be publishing our responses to feedback. Further, FirstNet cannot directly address even those statements made public by several organizations, to ensure the integrity of the procurement, as well as equity for all respondents.
The team has begun analyzing the thousands of pages we received to help us move forward on some key decisions to be made in the acquisition process. We are encouraged by the volume of the responses and thoughtful feedback.
One unique feature in FirstNet’s release of the Special Notice was our direction that the responses to the OA be addressed in the tool presented at the Industry Day in May. Each respondent had an opportunity to comment on any one of the 615 functions FirstNet provided in the OA. We are pleased to report that FirstNet received over 10,000 responses to the OA. That’s 10,000 cells in a spreadsheet that contain: 1) a statement as to whether or not a respondent agrees with FirstNet’s inclusion of the function; 2) a color coded cell indicating ownership of that function; and 3) a comment or justification on the acceptance, change, addition, or deletion of a function. The team is going through every single cell and analyzing how these inputs might affect the overall scope of the program. Some of the early statistics are fascinating, and FirstNet hopes to share them at the next Industry Day on August 27.
August is already shaping up to be one of the busiest months the RFP team has had at FirstNet. The inputs FirstNet received will be incredibly helpful moving forward with the acquisition process and toward the release of the RFP later this year.