To ensure FedRelay customers experience improved access, enhanced service and no loss of coverage, GSA is working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transition users to the FCC-administered Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) and GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS).
Like FedRelay, TRS offers a suite of telecommunications relay services that help individuals with hearing or speech disabilities communicate with government agencies and conduct official business.
GSA initiated the required market research to prepare for the next generation of FedRelay and determined that for the majority of relay services, TRS would deliver the greatest value while enhancing services provided.
TRS comes with the additional benefit of no cost to agencies. The FedRelay services that are not offered by TRS, Relay Conference Captioning and Video Remote Interpreting, are already available at lower pricing on the GSA MAS, Language Services SIN 541930.
The current FedRelay contract ends on May 15, 2021. Agencies who have current task orders can extend them an additional six months until November 15, 2021. To prepare for transition, agencies should ensure that their FedRelay accounts are current and address any outstanding invoices. Transition updates will be posted on the GSA FedRelay webpage.
Customers with questions and those who are ready to begin the transition process should contact the GSA FedRelay Program Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.
Join us May 13th at 1:00 pm EDT for a live webinar led by GSA’s IT Acquisition experts as we explore:
Benefits in shifting from a compliance model to the cybersecurity maturity model
Adopting a supply chain risk evaluation approach in government contracting
Easy to understand acquisition planning packages (e.g., playbooks, checklists, templates)
The 3-hour session features an overview of requirements and evaluation factors used in developing the 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) blanket purchase agreement; and a quick look into the GSA’s IT Solutions Navigator connecting buyers with resources, tools, and decision support for IT procurements.
This is the third session in GSA’s 2021 monthly Federal Acquisition Service Training (FAST) Conference series. Each session is worth up to 3 Continuous Learning Points. You can find the full lineup of events here.
GSA takes its commitment to the small business community very seriously, and we’re excited about the progress we’re making toward the award of the 8(a) STARS III Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).
We’re happy to announce that we intend to move forward with phased awards to different cohorts as outlined in the solicitation. Over the last week, GSA notified STARS III offerors of their inclusion in the competitive range. Awards to an initial cohort are planned for June 2021 with awards to another cohort planned later in the calendar year after discussions.
In the spirit of the 8(a) program, GSA is pleased to hold discussions which will afford firms an opportunity to revise their offers in order to qualify for an award.
As GSA’s fourth-generation 8(a) GWAC, STARS III is a multiple-award indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (MA-ID/IQ) contract designed to provide federal agencies with innovative IT services-based solutions from vetted 8(a) small disadvantaged businesses, in support of meeting their socioeconomic contracting goals. Through STARS III, agencies can access award-winning 8(a) firms through an established contract vehicle, saving time and taxpayer money over open-market methods.
Agency customers who are interested in using the 8(a) STARS III GWAC are encouraged to monitor GSA events for upcoming delegation of procurement authority training available to both contracting and requirements personnel. Customers may also register to receive notifications regarding upcoming training.
In February 2021, GSA announced the re-award of the 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). During the five year period of performance of the BPAs, it is expected to result in an estimated buy in excess of $5.5 billion. BPAs are available through GSA Advantage!®, eBuy and Air Force Advantage!® and provide a streamlined process for procuring IT hardware and software commodities, ancillary supplies and installation services.
Over the course of two years, we’ve worked with the U.S. Air Force to better understand their IT procurement requirements and demonstrate the benefits of using GSA to build a next generation contract solution.
The fundamental scope of the 2GIT BPAs is to provide a total solution to meet the IT needs of the USAF, Department of Defense agencies, and other federal, state, local, regional and tribal governments.
The 2GIT BPAs offer pre-competed IT products through GSA Multiple Award Schedule North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. The SINs covered in these BPAs are:
GSA has integrated supply chain risk management as a foundational part of 2GIT. This is a crucial component due to the paramount need to ensure that cybersecurity vulnerabilities associated with IT products are adequately addressed as they move through the vendor’s order and delivery process. Leveraging industry partners that execute solid enterprise supply chain risk management plans as part of a comprehensive Vendor Risk Assessment Program is critical to ensure processes and reporting are in place to reduce the risk of compromise throughout the supply chain, from original equipment manufacturers to distributors and resellers:
Hardware and software
System data/information from component substitution
The benefits of the 2GIT BPAs extend government-wide and align with current policies. We’ve incorporated category management principles such as the collection of prices paid data, the ability to track savings and reduction of duplicative contracts and administrative burden. Other benefits include:
Improved supply chain risk management and supplier risk management
Increase of authorized resellers of major original equipment manufacturers
Improved product availability via the FAStLane Mods process
Support for small business participation
Complimentary on-site and virtual customer support and training
The last months have been a whirlwind of activity for the new government-wide Information Technology Vendor Management Office (ITVMO). We not only chartered the ITVMO, but have started working with several partner agencies and IT acquisition experts from across government to identify existing resources that can assist agencies with their buying decisions. The ITVMO brings together the most critical players in the federal IT acquisition landscape to solve challenges agencies and vendors face when buying and selling IT products and solutions.
Launched in October 2020, the ITVMO is a government-wide effort to amplify the benefits of managing vendor engagement in the IT Category to make IT acquisitions faster and more cost effective. The ITVMO serves as a trusted independent advisor and advocate to help agencies buy common IT goods and services. As a one-stop shop, the ITVMO will leverage government-wide IT procurement data, conduct market research, and develop shared agency acquisition knowledge to support agencies’ buying decisions.
There are many programs and initiatives across government that are interested in improving how government buys IT. The ITVMO is unique in that it is a collaborative effort amongst partners in Category Management (CM) with the most critical IT acquisition Best in Class (BIC) contract vehicles and associated programs including:
The General Services Administration (GSA);
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
The National Institutes of Health (NIH);
The Department of Defense (DOD);
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).
Through this collaboration, the ITVMO will advance the goals of IT Category Management (CM) to improve how the government buys common IT goods and services and enable the government to act more as a single entity by sharing best practices and acquisition intelligence as well as eliminating the unnecessary duplication and redundancy that exists between federal agencies.
What’s Happening & What’s Next
One of the central drivers of CM is to mature federal IT acquisitions so that the government acts more like a single buyer rather than many independent agencies. By creating a space where some of the biggest and most impactful federal IT acquisitions programs and initiatives can collaborate and solve shared problems, establishing the ITVMO is a major step toward that goal.
The ITVMO is chartered and led by an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) comprised of several agencies including those with the largest IT BIC vehicles. The ESC determines the strategic direction and project priorities for the ITVMO to solve problems for agencies and vendors alike.
To identify shared challenges and opportunities throughout government, the ITVMO surveyed hundreds of IT and acquisition experts including the Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC) and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) as well as several communities of practices. The ITVMO team also conducted listening sessions with industry groups. The data and feedback gathered from across government is driving the challenges the ITVMO seeks to address in the near future.
The ITVMO’s primary customers are the programs and offices responsible for making buying decisions at each agency, and the vendor community. On January 27th, the ITVMO hosted an Open House for agencies to provide an overview of the ITVMO’s mission and services, and to answer any questions from the community. More information about the ITVMO Open House, including a video recording of the event, is available to government employees.
Based on customer feedback, the ITVMO is working on several products and services that will be made available to agencies in the near future, including:
Continuing a Small Business Webinar Series developed in partnership with the IT Government-wide Category and the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council Small Business Alliance so agencies and vendors can learn how GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Multiple Award Schedules Program will allow agencies to more easily procure IT products and services from small businesses.
Vendor Profiles that provide agencies with pricing information, specific vendors’ terms and conditions, and best practices for negotiating with that vendor.
Deep Vendor Intelligence crowdsourced from IT acquisition experts from across the federal government participating in integrated project teams (IPTs).
A Technology Life Cycle Assessment to provide agencies with insights into buying emerging technology and updating existing systems and services to meet evolving needs.
A deep dive and review of current Cost Avoidance Methodologies used by IT BIC acquisitions vehicles. The ITVMO is working closely with GSA’s IT Category to provide recommendations on how to improve the accuracy and reliability of cost avoidance methodologies and the underlying contract data.
If any of the above interest you, we would love to connect with you. Please feel free to reach out to the ITVMO inbox at email@example.com.
The ITVMO recently launched the first of several IPTs made up of the federal government’s foremost experts in working and negotiating with specific IT vendors. The IPTs will produce recommendations and strategies that can be shared and leveraged throughout government.
On May 12, 2021, The ITVMO will also host an Industry Day intended for our industry and vendor partners to learn about the mission of the ITVMO and the best way to collaborate with the ITVMO and federal IT acquisitions staff.
Finally, the ITVMO will soon launch our website to share the ITVMO’s latest updates and activities, post relevant templates and resources, and direct users to the relevant information to meet their IT acquisition needs.
In 2019, two distinct working groups comprised of federal telecom professionals merged to form the Federal Mobility Group (FMG). Focused on the four pillars of agency mission enablement, 5G technology, mobility security, and acquisitions, the FMG’s purpose is to:
Share information to enable government adoption of secure mobile technologies supporting mission
Identify/Address member priorities (gaps/challenge areas)
Identify/Address Federal CIO Council and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) priorities
GSA is one of three FMG Chairs, supported by subject-driven working groups. GSA shares its FMG leadership role with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and has served the FMG since inception. The FMG’s 2020 agenda focused on supporting agencies’ pandemic related security and mobility challenges as well as delivering research on Mobile Security and 5G.
Working groups are the engines of the FMG – and while pandemic response was top of mind, the FMG working groups used 2020 to deepen exploration and discovery across many technical areas:
Mobility 101: Interested in how the federal government defines mobility? Need help understanding the existing acquisition options agencies can leverage to procure mobile technology? Watch the acquisition working group’s webinar highlighting available products and services.
5G Public Policy Guidance: Want to learn more about policies and regulations impacting the adoption of 5G? Read more about the accomplishments and work from the FMG on their site (PIV card required) where you can review the white paper published by the Mobile Network Infrastructure subgroup. Public facing news and deliverables can be found on the FMG page and News section of the Cio.gov site.
Engage, Explore, Educate: In addition to developing resources to support the mobile community, the FMG invites industry partners to share new technologies and discuss recent events and learning, ensuring the team benefits from industry best practices.
Looking Forward to 2021
The Federal Mobility Group has set a high bar for its 2021 deliverables. They include:
FY 21 & Beyond: FISMA Mobility Metrics Report
Integrated Data Collection Mobility Data Reporting/Analysis
International Travel Guidance For Mobile Devices
Mobile Security Ecosystem Whitepaper
On April 20, 2021 ATARC and the FMG will co-host an event showcasing the work of the team and discussing 5G and Mobile Security in government. Register here.
The Mobility team at GSA supports a growing number of digital tools and resources to position your program and contracting staff for long-term success. If your agency is interested in learning more about our suite of mobility offerings, GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule and Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) have everything from Wireless Carrier Services to Mobile Threat Defense to Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
The FMG includes 200+ federal mobility SMEs and support contractors from 45 agencies and bureaus across the federal and technical spectrum. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss a variety of topics. Membership requires an active .gov or .mil address. To join the team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Numbers Are In – Biggest Year on Record for GSA ITC!
In Fiscal Year 2020, the Information Technology Category (ITC) recorded more than $30 billion in business volume across its portfolio. For context, this accounts for nearly a third (33%) of the $89 billion total that was spent on IT across all federal agencies in FY20.
Accordingly, this past fiscal year proved to be a record year in other categories as well:
IT spending through the Multiple Award Schedule accounted for an impressive $18.1 billion of the $30 Billion total, bolstered by its $12.7 Billion in new obligations. In FY20, MAS IT impressively posted 18% annual growth in new obligations.
On the Small Business front, ITC accounted for $7.1 Billion in utilization from Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), Schedules, and Telecommunications
ITC issued a single award via its telecommunications branch to the tune of $2.5 Billion, using the Enterprise Infrastructure Service (EIS) Contract. The award was made on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, and over the lifetime of the contract, the agency estimates it will save more than $700 million.
ITC accounted for more than $2 billion in savings and cost avoidance to their customers
FY20 Efforts in Review
The 2020 Fiscal Year drove change through every part of our lives. COVID-19 spurred dramatic change in government work culture and led to rapid technological adaptation across all agencies. A good deal of ITC’s increased business volume can be attributed to agencies transitioning to mobile-friendly technology. However, this unprecedented spending is also due to agencies acknowledging that GSA is a solid partner as they make big IT changes and choices about how to invest. We’re out front and focused when it comes to customer service, agile response to emergency needs, and delivery of mission-enabling and emerging technologies.
In 2020, customer agencies turned to GSA’s schedules program, assisted acquisition services and governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWAC) to fulfill pandemic-driven requirements as well as regular demand for products and services. Our success embodies the trust that federal agencies have put in us and our ability to address elements that our customers most care about:
Speed of acquisition
Assistance with mobile-friendly technology adoption
Technical and market expertise
General customer service
Agencies have turned to and relied on us to ensure their mission continuity and transition to a more untethered workforce.
In FY20, ITC launched the Information Technology Acquisition University (ITAU) to make it easier to learn about GSA’s products, IT solutions available through GWACs, MAS, and more. ITAU is a digital training platform for emerging technologies, their acquisition, GSA-specific contract training and more.
Additionally, ITC enhanced the Cloud Information Center, the GSA-curated federal resource hub for all things cloud, continuing to place valuable cloud computing resources in the hands of agencies.
These resources are ways that GSA is meeting the rise in demand for virtual access to our subject matter experts and more online learning platforms.
In FY21, GSA is doubling down on emerging technologies as the way of the future. The 8(a) STARS III and Polaris government-wide acquisition vehicles will have Artificial Intelligence offerings (Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Natural Language Processing), edge computing and more. As the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) effort ramps up and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) principles are emphasized, GSA will continue to prioritize security as a core tenet of acquisitions.
As my Deputy Assistant Commissioner Keith Nakasone likes to remind me, agencies are coming to GSA to leverage our IT expertise and the buying power of the government. They want to know that the products they’re adding to their IT footprint aren’t jeopardizing their networks. To that end, the CMMC level can be designated as needed at the task order requirement level. Large contracts such as the 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) hardware/software Blanket Purchase Agreements, have SCRM built in as a key operational component. Ultimately, GSA understands it plays a crucial role and has a considerable responsibility for an agency’s IT health.
Going into FY22, ITC will continue to provide the tools needed to successfully modernize while prioritizing cost-efficiency, expediency, and security. Leveraging Best In Class (BIC) contracts is one way. Taking advantage of online resources like ITAU and the CIC is another. Give your agency a reason to acquire with confidence — work with GSA for your next IT acquisition.
As always, follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT. To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.
Continuous monitoring of IT systems is an evolving process. It adapts as new technologies and capabilities become available and as organizations are faced with advanced and persistent threats. However, the core strategies of continuous monitoring lay the foundation for safe and secured federal IT systems.
Continuous monitoring helps agencies identify, resolve, and understand key insights regarding certain risks to their information systems. The Risk Management Framework (RMF) process consists of several steps that include preparing a system for authorization, authorizing the system, and continuously monitoring the system until the next authorization process begins. The monitoring step is essential for agencies that want to minimize risks to their security systems.
As mentioned in previous posts, the Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) Special Item Number (SIN) solution is available for agencies in need of cybersecurity services, including RMF. GSA’s HACS solution connects agencies with vendors who have passed an oral technical evaluation for cybersecurity services, making it easier for agencies to find quality vendors to assist with continuous monitoring strategies and Security Operations Centers (SOCs) activities.
After agencies obtain Authorization to Operate (ATO), they move into the continuous monitoring step of the RMF process. Though continuous monitoring strategies can vary by agency, usual tasks include near real-time risk management and ongoing authorization based on the system environment of operation. This step’s dynamic processes determine if a system’s security controls continue to be effective over time.
RMF services are available through GSA’s HACS SIN. A Statement of Work (SOW) for the RMF process can be found on the HACS website and includes example language for procuring services for the Monitor Step. The SOW outlines several subtasks that make up the continuous monitoring phase of RMF.
Roles and Responsibilities within the Continuous Monitoring Strategy
As part of the continuous monitoring process, the agency will oversee information system and environment changes. This process involves determining the security impact of proposed or actual changes to the information system and its environment of operation.
The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) performs ongoing risk determination and acceptance as a part of continuous monitoring. This task consists of reviewing the reported security status of the information system (including the effectiveness of security controls employed within, and inherited by, the system) on an ongoing basis. The CISO aims to determine whether the risk to the agency’s system remains acceptable. If a risk is not acceptable, remediation will take place. This CISO is in an inherently governmental position; however, contractors can provide subject matter expertise and recommendations for risk determinations.
The IO and ISSO take part in ongoing remediation actions throughout the continuous monitoring process. Along with the Information System Owner (ISO) and the Common Control Provider (CCP), these personnel conduct remediation actions based on the results of ongoing monitoring activities, the assessment of risk, and outstanding items in the Plan of Action and Milestones.
For more information on HACS RMF services and how using the HACS SIN can make it easier for your agency to monitor its systems, visit the HACS homepage or download the customizable RMF Statement of Work (SOW).
Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.
February 23, 2021 marks the third anniversary for GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Customers from across the federal government have used VETS 2 for a wide variety of IT Services while also receiving Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) credit toward their Small Business Procurement Scorecard, as well as Best-in-Class (BIC) Tier 3 credit toward Spend Under Management goals. I’m pleased to report that in just three years, VETS 2 has more than 100 task order awards with a total estimated value at approximately $1.1 billion.
VETS 2 provides access to 69 highly qualified companies capable of completing virtually any IT service requirement, including agile software development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other emerging technologies. Customers have used VETS 2 for a wide range of mission-critical requirements, including a web conferencing solution at GSA, a cybersecurity support project for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an IT service desk for the US Air Force, to name a few. With strategic partners like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Treasury identifying GSA Best-in-Class GWACs as preferred sources for IT requirements, the future is bright for VETS 2.
I couldn’t be more proud of the VETS 2 program team and our small business industry partners – the work they do makes a real difference. With an initial period of performance through February 22, 2023, and a five-year option until February 22, 2028, VETS 2 has a lot of runway to help your agency achieve its mission.
“Often, greater risk is involved in postponement than in making a wrong decision.”
Harry Hopf, a business consultant of the early 20th century, said these words, and many project management gurus probably have them hanging decoratively on their (now home) office walls.
This quote sums up our advice to agencies as we approach the next milestone guiding the governmentwide transition off GSA’s expiring Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3 (WITS3), and Local Service Agreement contracts. In this post, we will explore why the transition should be at the top of everyone’s mind and what to expect from GSA as we close it out.
Time Is Running Out
By September 30, 2022, 100% of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off the expiring contracts and moved to GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program.
The transition, at this point in time, presents an opportunity for your agency to take control of its own destiny. Agencies have seen upwards of 30% savings over current costs and will benefit as they transition their services. They don’t have to worry about exponential cost increases or operational disruptions due to services left on expired contracts. They are free to implement their modernization plans, confident that the technologies and services they plan to introduce are secure and in-scope.
GSA Positions Agencies for a Successful Transition
Some agencies are still in the process of contractor selection. We understand that pandemic mission priorities have taken precedence and want to reaffirm our availability to support agency transitions. If your agency is struggling with the acquisition phase, GSA is here to help! Key services include:
An inventory of complete services that need to be transitioned, including custom reports for your agency
Technical, acquisition, and ordering assistance, plus automated tools to directly assist agencies with expediting EIS task orders
GSA in-scope reviews of agency solicitations
Regular outreach to agencies’ Integrated Transition Teams to monitor transition progress and provide guidance
Disconnect Before You’re Disconnected
March 31, 2021 is the next major transition milestone, when 50% of legacy services must be disconnected. At the current rate, the government is not on track to meet the September 30, 2022 milestone for completion. Reliance on expiring contracts risks disruption of critical services delivered to the public.
We made that fact plain in a January 27 letter to all our agency partners and outlined remedies for any agency in jeopardy of missing the milestone dates. In particular, we want agencies to be aware that as of October 1, 2021, GSA will no longer accept or process any exception requests for its expiring contracts.
This is all part of GSA’s plan for the Closeout of Transition to EIS, which details the phased approach we will employ to complete the disconnection of services from the expiring contracts. The objective is to get agencies to transition themselves, with our support, and avoid unilateral disconnection. For those left with services on expired contracts, there will be no viable way to reinstate them. GSA will be unable to help.
If your agency needs help with its transition, please contact the IT Customer Service Center at 855-482-4348, or send an email to ITCSC@gsa.gov. We encourage you to reach broadly across the CXO community in your agency. Include Chief Information, Acquisition, and Financial Officers in conversations on transition, financials, and risk.