Part 2: Acquisition and Technology – GSA using innovation and technology to assist the customer

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Liz DelNegro is the Associate Chief Information Officer of Acquisition IT Services and our guest blogger this month.  In this second installment of a two-part blog post, Liz explains how GSA IT is working to enhance the customer experience with innovative new technology.

 GSA IT is constantly working to improve its Acquisition and Technology portfolio thus enabling greater usability and efficiency for its employees and customers with a focus on end-user experience and customer service.  In a world where technology shifts and changes the way people work and live almost every day, GSA has a responsibility to ensure public servants throughout the federal government have the tools they need to give the American people the services they need. Recently, I introduced two new systems in the GSA IT application library, EASi and ASSIST.  Along with these two new systems, there have been several other projects over the last couple of years on which we’re working hard to improve and modernize our systems, making business easier and providing an overall cost savings.

 In late 2011, President Obama set up an initiative to develop a more open and transparent government. One important part of this new initiative was to improve how electronic records are stored. With this being a paramount concern to the federal government, the Electronic Content Management System (ECMS) was born. The goal for ECMS is to provide the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) with an efficient and capable content management solution providing a common, standardized, searchable repository to store electronic content.  Over the past several months, ECMS has been enhanced to support more acquisition-related documents, including the new OASIS contracts as well as Public Buildings Service (PBS) and Assisted Acquisition Service (AAS) contract documents and much more. Throughout FY15, we expect to roll out many changes that will directly improve the end-user experience with search and retrieval functions and improved system response times. With these enhancements, the entire internal FAS community should see a tremendous increase in usability and performance.

 Along with ECMS, GSA initiated another large scale system development project when Acquisition IT and PBS-IT initiated a project to consolidate their independent Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) platforms to a single, open-source solution. The systems were converted without loss of functionality or performance to our end users. This expanded platform is expected to handle transactions upwards of $12 billion per year. PBS will see long-term savings with the elimination of licensing and the Operations and Maintenance costs of their former SOA environment.

Aside from our back-end application focus we have striven to improve our use of the Salesforce platform and cloud technology. In March 2013, the upgraded NCSC Call Center application, called VISION, was completed. This Salesforce CRM call center application ties into the Salesforce CRM application already in use across GSA and allows call center reps to identify repeat customers and capture new customer information more accurately with the ability to do contact lookups and searches.  It also processes credits, offsets and other transactions by using multiple web services to connect to existing GSA systems. These services eliminate what were formerly lengthy manual processes. This past year VISION was also integrated with some of GSA’s biggest consumer purchasing applications such as GSA Advantage, CSC, OCMS and FSS-19, and will also support the handling of all cases for FAS Acquisition Centers as part of Call Center Consolidation efforts across GSA. The long and short of it is, with the use of VISION, call center reps can now spend more time focusing on the customer and less time bogged down in laborious and repetitive processes.

FY14 also saw us begin the modernization of the FAS Centralized Mailing List Services (CMLS).  The enhanced CMLS system, scheduled to be delivered in March 2015, will be developed on the Salesforce platform,  providing GSA a more comprehensive and integrated Customer Relationship Management solution.  We expect this integration to result in improved customer support and outreach to our federal, state, civilian, and military customers.

 As you can see, we’ve been very busy over the last couple of years. GSA Acquisition IT is proud to continue helping the government be more efficient with data gathering and with making smarter purchasing choices. All of this is designed to save time and ultimately tax dollars and better serve the American people through the use of enhanced, innovative and customer-friendly technology.