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Regional Telecom Extensions Underway

Federal government agencies largely order their telecommunications through GSA’s Networx telecommunications program or through our Regional Local Service Agreements (LSAs) for local telecommunications.

As announced in March, we are extending the period of performance for the Network Universal and Enterprise contracts from 2017 to 2020.

We are currently working with our industry suppliers to extend the LSAs, including the Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3 contract in the metropolitan DC area.

In addition, we are working closely with our federal agency partners to begin rigorous transition planning and preparation. These extensions will allow agencies time to develop requirements and evaluate and implement solutions using the follow-on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract and/or other contracts in the GSA ITS portfolio.

As part of our overall NS2020 strategy, we will also be incorporating services currently available on our regional LSAs into EIS, eliminating the need for many duplicative contracts.  To bring these two programs together and minimize transition time, cost and risk, GSA will extend those LSAs expiring earlier than 2020 to coincide with the Networx contract extensions to 2020.

No Longer Pursuing RIS

GSA originally looked at a Regional Infrastructure Solutions (RIS) strategy to extend service for the expiring Regional LSAs by consolidating acquisitions and awarding interim contracts to provide service continuity until the competitive awards of EIS were made.

That approach would involve three larger geographic interim solutions: Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS), Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS), and Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS).

However, in looking further at the approach, we found the schedules for the EIS and RIS procurements began to run parallel, and we questioned the purpose and cost effectiveness of separate RIS acquisitions. Industry partners and agencies were also concerned about RIS running in parallel with EIS and the additional acquisition investments the approach would have required.

GSA found eliminating the RIS acquisitions could achieve significant savings for industry and government and avoid unnecessary duplication and transitions.

Focusing on EIS

With our full focus now on EIS, we have a lot of information to share with you. And we’re also hoping you’ll continue to share your input with GSA as we work to finalize the EIS requirements.  To facilitate the sharing of information, we created the new EIS Interact Community and created a series of Information Exchange Days. Register now for the last Information Exchange Day on June 30.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to hear more about EIS and to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.

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Next Generation GWAC Programs

Our governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) Program has been busy working on a number of updates and all of the hard work is starting to pay off. Each of our current GWACs has important milestones taking place:

  1. Alliant and Alliant Small Business announced draft Requests for Proposal (RFPs) for the sequel GWACs: Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business
  2. 8(a) STARS II notified stakeholders of open season and option initiatives
  3. VETS issued the initial Request for Information (RFI) for VETS 2

Federal agencies use GSA GWACs for a variety of IT services requirements including: data center consolidation, software development, systems integration, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and help desk support. Our GWACs have been prominent leaders in government and industry collaboration for many years, offering complimentary scope reviews, sample statements of work, acquisition templates and improved delegation of procurement authority (DPA) training.

Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2/A2SB)

In looking to the next generation, our GWAC Program published the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2/A2SB) draft RFPs to FedBizOpps (FBO) on March 31st. These GWACs will be the sequels to the successful Alliant and Alliant Small Business (A/ASB) GWACs. The draft RFPs will be open for comments by industry and government on FBO for 90 days, so I highly encourage you to contribute.

A2/A2SB’s pre-solicitation phase has raised the bar in transparency and collaborative processes, involving both federal agencies and industry partners. The A2/A2SB team performed thorough market research and laid significant groundwork in the pre-planning phase with efforts including:

  • An A2/A2SB Interact group with more than 7,000 members
  • A publically reviewed business case on OMB MAX
  • Numerous presentations to interested agencies
  • A customer working group with 30 members from 11 agencies
  • An industry working group with more than 500 participants
  • Two RFIs through FBO
  • Two official industry days with more than 500 attendees
  • Face-to-face, one-on-one meetings between Industry and A2/A2SB staff with 350 registrants

Notable enhancements proposed in A2/A2SB include: scope improvements, new IT service labor categories, new cybersecurity standards, new environmental standards, and the inclusion of requirement contracting types.

8(a)STARS II Open Season and Option

As a result of the 8(a) STARS II GWAC’s success within the first four years of operation, our Small Business GWAC Division has begun planning for the future of the program. Activities began this Spring to enhance the contract and secure the ability to provide socioeconomic credit to federal agency users.

On May 19th, 2015, GSA’s Small Business GWAC Division issued an RFP for an open season for the 8(a) STARS II GWAC. The open season will allow additional firms to submit proposals to be evaluated for a contract award. GSA intends to add new awardees to the contract in late FY16 or early FY17.

In May, the SBGWAC Division also provided early notice to current 8(a) STARS II contract holders of the requirements for the August 2016 option period

This early notice allows stakeholders to make determinations about future activities:

  • Industry partners who will not receive an option can plan ahead for partnering opportunities on existing task orders
  • Government partners can determine the best course of action for tasks issued to firms who will not receive their option and
  • The Small Business GWAC Division can provide education and training to all stakeholders on next steps

Veterans Technology Services 2

Our Small Business GWAC Division posted on March 19th an RFI survey to FBO requesting feedback from the SDVOSB IT community for the VETS GWAC follow-on contract. The RFI remained open through April 4th and we will use feedback from the survey to develop VETS 2. Join the VETS 2 GWAC Community on GSA Interact to participate further in the conversation.

While our GWAC Division is planning ahead to ensure a bright future for this important vehicle, the ordering period for the current VETS GWAC isn’t set to expire until February 1, 2017 so there is plenty of runway on the existing contract.

To The Future

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of our GWAC Program. The relationships that we’ve built with our government and industry partners have been critical to the program’s success. The number of agency missions our GWACs have facilitated demonstrates GSA’s ongoing commitment to our government partners, the small business community and the American people. Our next generation of GWAC programs are a testament to that commitment.

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Schedule 70 Cloud Special Item Number (SIN), the Cloud One-Stop Shop

Federal, state and local agencies looking for cloud solutions now have a new and easy way to find and acquire commercial solutions to meet missions, achieve efficiencies and savings, and comply with federal mandates such as Cloud First.

On April 29, GSA added Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 to IT Schedule 70.

It’s like being able to shop at a “cloud one-stop shop” on IT Schedule 70. And agencies that want additional or custom IT and cloud options can still easily shop the entire IT Schedule 70 and GSA’s other governmentwide contracts.

For an even broader choice in IT solutions, agencies have access to the new Acquisition Gateway, providing them with governmentwide contracts, pricing data, templates, best practices and more.

Stocking the Cloud SIN Shelves

The cloud SIN has several sub-categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Industry suppliers are encouraged to submit proposals so they can be included as IT Schedule 70 cloud SIN partners. View the  IT Schedule 70 solicitation for instructions on how to develop and submit proposals for the cloud SIN by following IT Schedule 70 procedures.

GSA will help smoothly transition existing IT Schedule 70 cloud services industry partners to the cloud SIN.

Cloud Efficiencies, Savings, Modernization

Cloud IT is one of the most important technology trends we have access to today. In fact, this year Deltek’s Federal Industry Analysis team predicted that spending on federal cloud computing services will climb rapidly over the next five years, hitting $6.5 billion in fiscal year 2019 (FY 19).

Cloud has huge potential for savings. It also gives government a flexible and efficient alternative to replace costly, outdated legacy systems. Agencies benefit from pay-for-use services that expand and contract according to need, rather than requiring bigger investments in less flexible and more costly infrastructure and resource investments. The new cloud SIN and the industry solutions behind it, enable exactly that.

The cloud SIN will be critical to help agencies acquire cloud easier and faster by:

  •      providing a single SIN for all cloud needs instead of hiding them across multiple Schedule 70 SINs,
  •      allowing agencies to more easily create custom cloud BPAs, and
  •      bringing new and evolving cloud technologies to market faster.

Clear Path to Access Cloud

The cloud SIN offers a clear path to cloud services. It gives buyers the ability to more easily differentiate between cloud technologies and buy what they need.

The SIN is designed to be the first stop for agencies to identify cloud solutions and suppliers that will satisfy NIST’s five essential cloud characteristics.

Agencies will find a growing list of cloud options available through the cloud SIN as GSA continues to add suppliers over the coming months. Agencies will be able to go to eBuy and GSA Advantage! to search for ‘SIN 132-40” to locate cloud options, suppliers, pricing for further action and negotiations, and make purchases.  And use eLibrary and search “SIN 132-40.”

Buyers looking for cloud solutions can also use Cloud Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Governmentwide Acquisition Vehicles or refer to the Cloud Technology webpage for more cloud computing resources.  And more and more of our solutions are  Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) compliant providing an additional level of security and cost savings.

Follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS for updates on our cloud offerings and everything going on with our IT and telecommunications solutions.

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EIS Takes Big Steps to Collaborate

It’s April. It’s Spring. And, it’s the time of year when we do spring cleaning to revitalize our lawns, clean messy garages, and refresh our winter-weary homes.

It’s also a great time to kick off a series of live GSA Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) “Information Exchange” sessions with industry and launch a new EIS interactive online community for federal government agencies and potential industry partners.

EIS is the main component of the Network Services 2020 (NS2020) Strategy. It will replace GSA’s Networx and regional and local contracts, which many agencies currently use to acquire best-value IT, telecom, and infrastructure. Agencies will start to transition in 2017.

Attend Information Exchange Days

We issued an EIS Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) in February. Our partners in government and industry responded with more than 1,500 comments on the Draft RFP. We’re excited about the amount of interest in the Draft RFP and we’re looking forward to good, constructive conversations.

We’ll continue this productive dialog during “information exchange” days before we issue the RFP.  These “information exchange” sessions are open to government and industry and will take place on April 27, May 28 and June 30.

The information exchange sessions will give government and industry a chance to talk about the upcoming RFP and discuss common themes, insights, and issues. Stay tuned to the EIS Interact Community for how to register for the remaining sessions. Space is limited.

Join EIS Interact Community

To make EIS a success, we must ensure continuous collaboration and feedback. The EIS Interact community opened on April 17. This open forum is for GSA, agencies, and industry to continually collaborate and share ideas.

The EIS transition planning process, for example, has started. In order to be successful, we need to share insights and lessons learned. On the Interact community, we can jointly share transition insights and lessons to add value for every agency and make government-wide transitioning smoother overall.

How valuable the open forum will be depends on the value of member contributions. When we share good generic tips, ideas, and helpful insights, we serve our shared needs.

For any non-public discussions, including those related to proprietary information, you should use the EIS mailbox, which is EIS.Mailbox@gsa.gov.

To join the Interact community, visit the site to become a member. You will have access to community postings, including from GSA, and can participate, share and receive helpful information via the discussions.

Collaboration is Shaping EIS from the Start

These efforts mark the next logical steps in our continued emphasis on EIS collaboration.

Government and industry working together has been part of the EIS acquisition effort from day one. This is vital to ensure federal agency needs are met and industry partners have input early into the contract.

Our first step was to gather feedback and input on lessons learned from current contracts and past telecom transitions.

We’ve issued Requests for Information (RFIs) and posted a Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) on FBO.gov to gather EIS input and recommendations from stakeholders and share the planned EIS approach.

We continue to work in partnership with government agencies and industry partners, such as with one-on-one meetings, working groups, advisory panels, and by participating at other government and industry events.

This Spring marks a new season in collaboration. We encourage you to join the EIS Interact Community and come to information exchange days. Let’s keep moving in the right direction together!

If you need help or information on GSA’s EIS acquisition, go to our EIS Webpage.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation.