The Defense Information Systems Agency on April 1 released the request for proposals for its Global Network Services contract, an agreement worth more than $4 billion.

The long-awaited RFP outlines the broad range of telecommunications services DISA will offer more than 1 million Defense Department users under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity agreement with five base years and five one-year options with a ceiling of $4.3 billion.

"GNS will provide DISA with a vehicle to procure leased telecommunications services in support of the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) and DoD Information Network (DoDIN) worldwide," the contract documents state.

GNS will provide a single, cohesive global network by 2020 that will include all types of wired and wireless communications, with voice, video and data transmitted around the world on a 100-gigabit-per-second backbone, 10 times the speed of the circuits it uses today. The program covers the transport services for DoD and national security customers, connecting users virtually through physical cables and wires, satellite connections and more, according to DISA officials.

After releasing requests for information that date back to 2012, DISA last July held an industry day to gather questions and feedback from the private sector and to determine the best path forward for GNS. While the RFP's basic structure didn't change after hearing from industry, DISA officials' approaches did.

One of the biggest sticking points was how to award a potentially decade-long IT contract and still be able to incorporate fast-changing technologies that would make a huge different in price and capability.

"That was one of the primary focuses of our industry day – how do we deal with agility? How do we deal with evolving technologies?" said Jessie Showers, vice director of the network services directorate at DISA. "Industry came back with some great recommendations that we've already incorporated into the GNS contract. I'm very confident that we can deal with what's happening now as well as what's going to happen in the future…and as costs of buying capabilities goes down, we'll be able to benefit from that low cost as time moves on as well."

GNS will service as DISA's vehicle for acquiring and delivering telecommunications network services at the DoD enterprise level, providing "end-to-end, classified and non-classified information transmission services and capabilities in support of Department of Defense (DoD) operations and the warfighter and contributing to the higher concept of 'defense of the nation,'" according to contract documents.

Initially, GNS will support overseas requirements with the option to provide continental U.S. (CONUS) services. Currently, other DISA contract vehicles cover those CONUS requirements.

GNS is designed to fit in with other DoD and DISA enterprise IT initiatives, including the Joint Information Environment. It also will be complementary to some of DISA's other major contract vehicles, such as the $4.6 billion Global Information Grid (GIG) Systems Management-Operations (GSM-O) contract, the largest of three global systems management contracts at the agency. GSM-O provides network management services, operations and request fulfillment across the department, while GNS provides the transport side — primarily bandwidth, Showers said.

"The government plans to use GNS capabilities to shift from the use of point-to-point circuits to newer technical approaches to meet contract requirements," according to the contract documents. "These services range from metropolitan area networks, network solutions, short-term circuit leases, fiber, and indefeasible rights of use to new services that become commercially available during the period of performance of this contract. Therefore, GNS will enable customizable turn-key global transport solutions."

Proposals for the RFP are due May 18.