Celebrating Veterans Success through ITS Contracting Opportunities

As we celebrate the Veterans Day holiday, I’m humbled by the many veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have helped build America’s foundation and continue to serve our nation and federal community as veteran entrepreneurs and business owners.

One out  every 10 American businesses today is owned by a veteran, and 5.8 million Americans owe their job to a veteran. I’m also honored to be a part of GSA’s ongoing commitment to our veterans through the strong contracting and business opportunities our agency provides.

For centuries, veterans have served our great nation in a variety of ways, and today’s IT realm is no exception. Every day, ITS programs such as Schedule 70 and the Small Business GWAC Division work with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) and government agencies, in need of customized products and services, to provide quality IT solutions. These contract vehicles also help agencies achieve their socioeconomic SDVOSB goals.

Below are some terrific examples of how the service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses of the Veterans Technology Services (VETS) GWAC are supporting federal agencies.

Providing comprehensive life-cycle support to the NEXRAD Network

Using VETS, the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Air Force awarded the 10-year MSITS task order to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. The small business will support ongoing base operations and maintenance for our nation’s Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) infrastructure, which is a network of 167 weather-radar sites that (1) provides the foundation for all national weather forecasting and (2) collects data for extreme-weather notification and safety systems, military operations, and emergency-management systems.

Creating and securing a wireless network across the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) needed a location-based wireless infrastructure that delivers secure wireless communication across 300 VA sites around the nation. Through the VETS GWAC, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business installed and verified the network, achieving a solution for a broad range of the VA’s data and telecommunications needs.

Marching Onward

To build upon the success of VETS, our Small Business GWAC Division is designing the next-generation VETS GWAC to align with the evolving federal IT marketplace.

Through collaboration with our government customers and the SDVOSB community, VETS 2 will provide your agency the opportunity to work with world-class SDVOSB firms to fulfill your IT service requirements.

Please stay tuned for a series of VETS success stories that we plan to host on our new ITS LinkedIn showcase page.

We also encourage your agency to consider using a small business owned by a service-disabled veteran, whenever you need customized IT solutions. If you have questions about the VETS contract, please contact us at (855) 482-4348 or at www.gsa.gov/vets.


Regional Telecom

In my last post, we talked about GSA’s issuance of the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Request for Proposal (RFP) on October 16, 2015.  On the heels of this important milestone, GSA is announcing some changes in our Regional Network Services Program.

The Regional Network Services Program (RNSP) resides within the General Services Administration’s Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS).  The program provides telecommunications service delivery and technical support for federal agencies nationwide. (GSA services are available in all states and also in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands.)

The program’s FY2015 business volume exceeded $450M managing more than 80 Local Service Agreements (LSAs) or contracts with all major suppliers of telecommunication services, including the largest and most well-known of the LSAs–the WITS 3 Contract.

The Regional Program offers significant economic value to its customers by offering excellent–and in most cases, the best–prices available to government agencies.

The following table shows the average monthly prices for basic telephone service offered by the program in FY2016 and FY2011. As noted, average RNS Program prices have decreased, whereas prices in the broader U.S. economy have increased for business local telephone service. Prices in eight of 11 regions have decreased.

Average Monthly Recurring Charge –
Basic Telephone Line
Region FY2011 FY2016 CAGR*
1 $27.14 $22.76 -3.46%
2 $29.77 $20.21 -7.45%
3 $21.61 $21.59 -0.02%
4 $22.54 $14.40 -8.57%
5 $24.23 $21.38 -2.47%
6 $35.28 $28.65 -4.08%
7 $20.70 $23.32 2.41%
8 $26.15 $31.01 3.47%
9 $28.03 $19.07 -7.41%
10 $17.66 $19.27 1.76%
11 $16.43 $9.29 -10.78%
Program Average
(Regions 1-11)**
$19.43 $14.41 -5.81%
Producer Price Index-Business Local
Telephone Service***
$101.80 $108.10 1.21%
  • * The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) provides a constant growth rate over a multi-year period.
  • ** All averages are weighted averages.
  • *** PPI – Business Local Service (Wired Telecommunication Carriers) is tallied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Product Code No. 517110-112).

Full-Service Delivery Model

The Regional Network Services Program supports a full-service delivery model in Regions 1-10, where GSA works solely with telecom service providers on behalf of its agency customers. (The WITS3 program in Region No. 11 is an exception; it is a “customer direct order” contract.)

Full-service delivery allows agencies to focus on their missions rather than manage the complexities and risks inherent in telecom/datacom procurement and operations.

Moreover, agencies derive significant imputed savings (stemming from federal agency cost avoidance) when opting for full-service, since GSA assumes responsibility for the following:

  • Providing telecom requirements analysis and specification;
  • Conducting acquisition and “fair opportunity” decisions;
  • Placing service orders for moves, adds, and changes;
  • Transitioning service from one service provider to another (where applicable);
  • Assuring prompt payment to vendors;
  • Reconciling monthly invoices with inventory; and
  • Providing ongoing inventory management and vendor oversight.

As part of the recent introduction of category management, the Regional Program has instituted a common, nationwide fee structure for its services in FY2016. Effective category management makes use of market intelligence and expert guidance in procuring goods and services in the telecommunications category. In addition, category management aims for pricing transparency and simplicity. The Regional Program has accordingly introduced a common program fee structure across all LSAs in Regions 1-10.

GSA is also pleased to announce the extension of the GSA National Capital Region’s WITS 3 Contract effective September 10, 2015 with the WITS 3 contract holders, Level 3 and Verizon. Under the extension, the contract Period of Performance consists of the following:

  • A three (3) year base period (November 8, 2015 – November 7, 2018)
  • A one (1) year option period (November 8, 2018 – November 7, 2019)
  • A final option period (November 8, 2019 – May 30, 2020)

The follow-on contract to WITS 3 and the Regional LSAs is the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Contract.  GSA is focusing increasingly on transition planning from the Regional telecommunications contracts to EIS.

Agencies should also be working on transition plans.  We look forward to collaborating with agencies for the transition to EIS.

If you haven’t already been in touch with us, please go to the EIS webpages and download the template for transition planning or contact your GSA Technology Service Manager.


Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) RFP is Here!

spinning globe with silhouette overlay of binary code

GSA issued the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) Request for Proposal (RFP) on October 16.  

Issuing the RFP represents a major milestone for government in two significant ways.

First, it means that we are well on our way to providing the federal government the comprehensive solutions based vehicle for telecommunications and IT infrastructure services that our customer agencies need.  

Second, the RFP is a great example of the collaboration and teamwork that allows us to be responsive continually to existing and emerging needs of government and industry. We feel very confident that the results achieved by the EIS acquisition will provide our customers flexibility, choice and convenience, and industry an agile platform for meeting unique agency requirements for the future.

In the spring and summer leading up to the RFP release, we held three information exchange days with industry. Over 150 industry and agency participants attended each session. In addition, we held over 60 one-on-one meetings with individual companies and obtained input from the ACT-IAC NS2020 Working Group and the NS2020 Interagency Advisory Panel (composed of Federal IT and Acquisition Executives). We received over 1,600 comments on the draft RFP that we analyzed. The final EIS RFP incorporates that feedback and comments received from numerous meetings with individual agency CIOs, the NS2020 Executive Advisory Panel, and industry.

I am confident that the final product will give industry flexibility to offer technologically current solutions to agencies at great prices, and agencies will have the flexibility to easily adopt those solutions to meet their mission needs.

We are looking forward to some robust competition on EIS.  It is still our goal to have EIS ready for agency use in early 2017.

Preparing for the Transition

In the meantime, we are focused on preparing for the transition from Networx and our Regional telecommunications contracts to EIS.  The three-year Networx contracts extensions to 2020 give agencies time to transition to EIS. We are also extending many of our local service agreements, including the Washington Interagency Telecommunications Contract 3 (WITS 3), to 2020. It’s imperative that federal agencies complete the transition of all their telecom services to EIS by May 2020 as this is the hard deadline for contract expiration.

Together, industry, agencies, and GSA have a lot of work to do to achieve the May 2020 deadline for transition. We have solicited industry ideas for the most efficient ways to transition services. The transition effort is the next opportunity for agencies and industry to continue the high level of collaboration so far achieved under the EIS initiative.  We look forward to the challenge.  

Agencies should now be working on transition plans and telecommunications services inventories, both essential steps to a timely transition. We are currently working with some agencies on these steps. If you haven’t already been in touch with us regarding transition planning, please go to the EIS webpages today and download the template for transition planning or contact your GSA Technology Service Manager.

Please check out and register on our EIS Interact site for status updates on EIS and our transition efforts. And be sure to follow ITS on Twitter @GSA_ITS for updates on all GSA’s IT offerings.


IT on the Acquisition Gateway

You’ll recall my April post discussing Category Management and FAS’s launch of the Acquisition Gateway, a space for acquisition professionals to  learn, connect, and act upon acquisition information, expertise, and advice. It will serve as an important tool to support and improve how the federal community acquires products and services.

When I wrote that post, ITS had successfully launched the IT Hardware and IT Software category hallways. We’ve since launched three more:

  • Telecommunications,
  • IT Services, and
  • IT Security.

Now the Acquisition Gateway has 17 category hallways, all of which fall into one of the 10 civilian-centric categories, which account for 80 percent of total federal spend.

With collaboration and support from our partner agencies, our IT category managers have collected pricing tools and information, guides, best practices, and expert articles that will help acquisition professionals make more efficient IT procurements.

Agile development process

The Acquisition Gateway is based on an agile development process, where software developers prototype early and iterate often, continuously focusing on end-users and the tasks they need to accomplish.

In this case, the development team involves all end-users in a transparent and collaborative development process. Success requires constant collaboration and a continuous process of incorporating user feedback, including customer-contributed expertise and content.

If you’ve visited the Acquisition Gateway in the past few months, you may have noticed new system changes and enhanced services, including:

  • Revamped Homepage – more easily accessible sections
  • Solutions Finder – revamped the solutions matrix to make searching governmentwide-available solutions easier
  • Communities – a place to connect with acquisition professionals and share knowledge
  • Project Center where users can build an acquisition, complete with project details
  • eBuy Open – an interactive web application that displays eBuy RFQ information to users and provides several filtering and search options, which enables users to quickly drill down to desired information
  • TechFAR Huba community of practice open to all federal government employees with an interest in successful acquisitions. The TechFAR Hub and the Gateway share the common goals of saving taxpayer dollars, making acquisition more efficient, and improving service to customers inside government and out
  • Prices Paid Portal an interactive web application that provides users access to selected data sets which can be searched, filtered, and exported
  • Shared Services – A hub to help federal departments and agencies find and leverage existing solutions rather than build new ones

Acquisition professionals and IT experts like you made these enhancements possible.

Over time, category hallways will capture the expertise of users, category managers, and industry experts and will become a more powerful and effective tool as users from across government share content, contract solutions, data, and industry expertise. Currently, only federal government users have access to the Acquisition Gateway.

However, because transparency is important, GSA is creating a public view of the Acquisition Gateway planned for early FY16. The Public view will be available to stakeholders such as industry, state and local government, and citizens.

When it comes to IT acquisition, having a single place to gather market research, connect with experts, and complete data-driven acquisition confidently and efficiently is invaluable. The Acquisition Gateway enables more efficient procurements by leveraging contract intelligence and spending data to facilitate smarter purchasing.  

We are looking forward to implementing the following enhancements soon:

  • Launch a Statement of Work (SOW) library across multiple categories (currently resides in the Professional Services category hallway)
  • Integration of Advantage Select which establishes FAR compliant, pre-competed, “click-and-pay”, contractual vehicles that any Government buyer can use. Advantage Select will enable more competition, more often, on the most commonly purchased commodity items, and then showcases and gives transparency of these products and pricing to the entire Government acquisition/contracting enterprise for the ultimate experience in low cost, streamlined purchasing.  

Get Started

To continue building on what we’ve already accomplished together over the past year, please go to the Acquisition Gateway and share your feedback with us. We need acquisition experts in all government agencies to share their knowledge.

So how can you start?

  • Sign up for an OMB Max account and login to the Acquisition Gateway
  • Tell your co-workers
  • Share your best practices, templates, and expertise
  • Participate in the communities
  • Share your prices paid / transactional data
  • Provide information on acquisition solutions
  • Join us for usability testing to help drive new features. If you are interested in participating in Acquisition Gateway usability testing, please contact Kelly Robinson at kelly.robinson@gsa.gov

For more information or to get involved, please email natasha.sheehan@gsa.gov. Follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.