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IT Solutions with an Eye towards Speed, Savings, Efficiency

When I meet with agency customers, I hear about the struggles we face to get IT acquisitions done efficiently and smoothly.

Most government agencies–federal, state or local—face similar acquisition problems:

  • How do we acquire IT faster?
  • How can we continue to find savings?
  • Can you make it easier to acquire mission-critical IT solutions?
  • Can you help us meet annual small business goals?
  • Can you help us meet regulations and other mandates?

The expectations are very clear: GSA must offer IT acquisition solutions that will meet agency and federal requirements, and give agencies more for their mission dollars. If agencies can also get their solutions quickly, we’re in the sweet spot of IT acquisition. We want to improve efficiency and speed without sacrificing compliance and quality, which limits the acquisition time, burden, and costs, and prevents missed deadlines and opportunities.

Pre-Competed Contracts Help You Buy Faster From Qualified Companies and Result in Higher Quality Solutions

GSA’s pre-competed contracts are available for government agencies to use and offer acquisition speed with pre-vetted vendors and the ability to quickly add customized requirements if needed.

  • Speed: Data shows pre-competed contracts save time and money compared to open-market acquisitions. Using pre-competed solutions can take months off of an open market acquisition and are perfect for acquisitions that need to be done quickly and efficiently. GSA provides scope reviews, training, templates and a range of acquisition assistance to help you use our contracts and programs most effectively. We’ll also help you look at options that may include other agency contracts to ensure you’re choosing the right solution for your requirement.

  • Breadth of vendors: 4,700 industry partners are on IT Schedule 70 alone offering everything an agency could need, including laptops, tablets, other commodities, and IT Services.

  • Supplier Relationship Management:  GSA’s suppliers are our partners. Our Network Services and GWAC providers work closely with GSA program managers to ensure agency needs are met through our solutions. See gsa.gov/technology for more information.

  • Savings: Governmentwide existing acquisition vehicles, like SmartBUY BPAs and IT Schedule 70, deliver cost savings by leveraging government buying power. SmartBUY saved government agencies about $184 million on software purchases in FY 2014 through the second quarter. We encourage customers to always negotiate additional discounts beyond listed prices.

  • Access to Small Business: 80% of Schedule 70 vendors are small business (SB), allowing set-asides for SB. Our pre-competed GWACs 8(a) STARS II, VETS and Alliant Small Business contracts are targeted solely for small business. GSA’s Reverse Auctions tool also makes it easy to meet small business goals by specifying SB in vendor solicitation criteria. Over 87% of reverse auction vendors selected this year have been small business.

  • Assisted Acquisition Services:  GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Services provides a range of assistance to help you throughout the acquisition process to include awarding and administering task orders on behalf of your agency. AAS staff are certified, contracting, project management and financial management professionals located throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. AAS offers expertise in formulating and executing large, and/or complex Information Technology and Professional Services solution.

E-Tools Help You Be More Efficient

E-tools are another IT acquisition resource that empower customers, giving agencies more knowledge than ever before through the power of transparency and information.

Three comments I hear most often from customers are:

  1. I have IT requirements, but there are so many acquisition choices out there, I’m not sure which one best meets my needs.

  2. I need more data. Accessing prices paid information will help with budgeting, cost estimates, and negotiations.

  3. I’m struggling to structure my acquisition for innovative IT.

Our free e-tools were designed with these comments in mind. Our goal is to help speed up and make IT acquisition more efficient.

GSA’s IT Solutions Navigator helps users see which GSA IT acquisition options fit their unique requirements. Check off your acquisition requirements and IT Solutions Navigator will analyze your specific needs, and instantly tell you which solutions are the best choice(s). You can also chat with a solutions expert right from the Navigator page and/or contact us through phone and email for additional support.

Prices Paid tools speed up cost estimates and help with negotiation and savings. You can use our Prices Paid tool for GWACs and now Wireless BPAs for aggregate pricing information. (It requires a .gov or .mil login.)  Prices-paid pilot programs are underway for Schedules and our commercial satellite program, so stay tuned for when these and other prices-paid e-tools are available.

One more way to speed up acquisitions is to leverage existing IT acquisition templates and assistance. For example, we have Statements of Work and other templates you can use to reduce your upfront time and costs.

At the end of the day, resources are intended to bring results: In cost savings, innovative IT, acquisition efficiencies, small business awards, and regulatory compliance. Leveraging existing capabilities, e-tools and pre-competed contracts puts us closer every time in making wise IT decisions to deliver our missions.

Follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation and for help.

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Industry and Small Business Outreach on Northeast Infrastructure Solutions

What’s hot right now besides the weather?

Our newly issued Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS) Draft Statement of Work (SOW) is a hot topic in the federal IT community. The NIS acquisition is one of GSA’s critical steps to our ultimate goal of moving toward a fully consolidated, enterprise-wide, nationwide telecommunications portfolio (Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions [EIS]) based on GSA’s Network Services 2020 (NS2020) strategy.

Working with our federal agency partners, we developed requirements and issued the draft SOW on fbo.gov on July 24, 2014. The draft is industry’s chance to help shape the acquisition that will serve markets and customer requirements located in the Northeast Corridor.

As part of NIS, GSA is considering a partial set-aside to small business for DSL and Tariff requirements. This RFI is also seeking input on those capabilities. See our Small Business Partial Set-Aside document for a full description of requirements and information requested. We haven’t made a final decision on small business set-aside yet, and are using this tool to assess capabilities and receive feedback.

Submit comments through August 8, 2014 using this email address: nis.sources-sought.comments@gsa.gov.

Next Steps

NIS will consolidate local service contracts currently in place in four GSA Regions across the Northeast United States (NCR and Regions 1, 2 and 3). Two more regional consolidations — Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS) and Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS) — are also planned over the next fiscal year. Together, the three consolidated regional acquisitions are called the Regional Infrastructure Solutions (RIS).

We anticipate issuing Requests for Information (RFIs) soon for WIS and CIS, so stay tuned to @GSA_ITS on Twitter for updates.

 

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Fireworks, Festivities, and Connections II Dashboard Launch

In July, we celebrate America, our independence, and our freedom. Thousands of fireworks take off one after another across our beautiful night skies and we have fun with family and friends.

This year, we have one more reason to celebrate — at least in the IT and data communities.

Over the July 4th weekend, our Connections II program launched an interactive, real-time Connections II dashboard. The tool allows Connections II users to view and analyze non-classified data on federal IT purchasing activity awarded under GSA’s Connections II.

Data turned into actionable information will allow government to buy smarter, help agencies make better buying decisions, and lead to smoother bid and proposal processes. More information can help agencies better understand purchasing trends, conduct better market research, and be better negotiators. Ultimately, government buying decisions based on consistent, shared information deliver dollar savings to U.S. taxpayers.

We collectively are opening up data, sharing it, and working together to find additional value. At GSA, we look for ways to make government purchasing data more open, transparent, and accessible, and the Connections II dashboard is one way to do this.

The Connections II dashboard creates a single point of access for all data on Connections II task order obligations, number of awards, agency/bureau, and industry partner activity.

Users have quick and easy access to the dashboard. Search results display in easily understood lists, graphs, and charts. The real-time dashboard gives meaningful and timely program information–whether to industry or government–at any time. Users can search for specific items, sort data, and create and download custom reports.

We try to give customers and industry partners real-time data whenever they need it – at both the agency and order level so government can increase data quality and spend analysis, and make better business decisions, and so industry partners can tailor their offerings.

Other Reasons to Celebrate

GSA is just getting the big data explosion started with using and sharing our data to everyone’s benefit. GSA has several other data transparency efforts underway for the government IT acquisition community:

  • Get spend data from our GWACs Dashboard and Networx.
  • Use the Prices Paid tool for GWACs and now Wireless BPAs for aggregate pricing information. (It requires a .gov or .mil login.)
  • Prices-paid pilot programs are underway for Schedules and our satellite program.
  • GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is working on the common acquisition platform as a critical resource for federal buyers. It will contain even more tools, capabilities, and government-wide data on acquisition vehicles, intelligence, and prices paid.

If you want more information about Connections II, read about Connections II and transitioning to IPv6. We have several Statement of Work (SOW) templates you can download: IPv6 SOW to assist with IPv6 transitioning, DNSSEC SOW to help agencies with security transitioning from DNS to DNSSEC and email authentication based on the deployed DNSSEC, and a Unified Communications SOW template to help agencies combine voice, data, and video.

If you need help or information on GSA IT programs, go to our Need Help Page. Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation.

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“Easy to Find, Easy to Buy” — Envisioning the Next Step for Cloud Computing on IT Schedule 70

GSA has led efforts to create a 21st century government, including introducing cloud to federal agencies. We offer a variety of contract vehicles that help agencies streamline acquisition of cloud technologies, including IT Schedule 70, the Email as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) like Alliant and Alliant Small Business.

As the cloud marketplace is maturing, we are seeing an increased focus on IT Schedule 70 as one of the main acquisition vehicles for agencies.

IT Schedule 70 is already the largest, most widely used IT acquisition vehicle in the federal government, and we are continuously looking to improve what it offers. One area we are exploring is looking for ways to help customers find and buy cloud services.

For example, we are considering the creation of a single Special Item Number (SIN) for all cloud services that would provide clear cloud technology differentiation for customers and improve ease of access to acquire cloud services. We recently released a request for information, seeking industry input on this idea.

IT Schedule 70 already offers cloud services, and our industry partners have cloud offerings in several SINs, so why create a new SIN?

Through customer dialogue and market research, an integrated team of acquisition, technology, and program experts across the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) has identified that there would be benefits to creating a Cloud SIN to all parties involved:

  • GSA Customers – Clear differentiation of cloud services vs. non-cloud IT products and services, and empowered cloud buying through better data
  • Industry Partners – Opportunity to market distinctive solutions and offerings on IT Schedule 70
  • Internal GSA Operations – Enable more granular reporting on cloud sales to enable decision making, and help our customers buy better through data

The goal of this new SIN would be to provide clear cloud technology differentiation and ease of customer access through systems such as eBuy and GSA Advantage!.

Since SINs create logical categories of services within a Schedule, we envision the creation of a Cloud Computing Services SIN will provide a level of differentiation for customers that would more easily and clearly identify cloud services.  Additionally, GSA could establish a set of qualifying requirements that would help customers in identifying cloud services that meet acceptable standards around security, data, and other characteristics.

We are always looking for ways to make sure that doing business with us is as easy and reliable as possible. We believe that adding a Cloud Computing Services SIN would realign IT Schedule 70 cloud technology offerings to better reflect the current cloud computing market and satisfy customer needs.

The cloud market is sufficiently mature to offer differentiated and vetted cloud services through a single SIN, and this makes sense for both GSA customer agencies and industry partners. We are looking for feedback to make sure we get it right and look forward to the conversation. Read the RFI.