UW–Madison withdraws WiscNet network services award

June 28, 2013

by Greg Bump

After consultation with the University of Wisconsin System Administration and the Board of Regents, UW-Madison has withdrawn its award to WiscNet for advanced research and educational network services for its campus and other UW System schools.

“Business and political considerations — including the potential for ongoing appeals, litigation and legislative changes — have created uncertainty to our campus operations and the future of our network,” according to UW-Madison Provost Paul M. DeLuca.

“This decision was not made lightly, or without consideration and understanding of how it will impact WiscNet and its members,” DeLuca says. “But to allow us to focus on our academic and research missions, we are obligated to immediately begin transitioning to the operation of our own network, which includes service to the campus and other UW System institutions.”

While legislation in the current budget bill allows UW to maintain membership in other research and education networks, the 2011 Budget Bill passed legislation precluding UW from continuing as a member of WiscNet as of July 2013.  UW’s decision to withdraw the award reflects continued legislative pressure to end all use of UW’s fiber to serve other WiscNet members, which include technical colleges, school districts, the Department of Administration, libraries, and hospitals.  UW intends to work with WiscNet and its membership to avoid any interruption in service during the transition of the network. 

“The question of WiscNet’s ability to utilize UW fiber to serve its other members and the appropriateness of that agreement has been the subject of significant public and legislative debate in recent years,” Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell says. “We have been seeking a legislative solution that both protects the ability of UW campuses to maintain connection to Internet2, and other important educational and research networks.”

“We remain absolutely confident in the integrity of the procurement process that was followed to date and now have presented detailed responses to those who have protested the award of the contract to provide advanced research and educational network services,” Bazzell added.

DeLuca says campus network users should see no difference in services during or after the transition.

“The work our researchers, instructors, administrators and students do at UW–Madison is of paramount importance. We will take the utmost care to ensure that the network continues to meet their needs,” DeLuca says.