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Alliant 2: Shaping the Future

The Alliant & Alliant Small Business Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) have been a remarkable success for our customers, for our industry partners, and for GSA. Over the last eight years, more than 60 federal agencies have awarded over $36 billion in work to Alliant & Alliant SB partners.

Alliant has also taught us the importance of partnerships, education, training, and customer service in developing and delivering successful contract vehicles.

The Alliant success story is demonstrated in the loyalty we see from our customers. The U.S. Department of Navy, Defense Health Agency, and U.S. Special Operations Command selected the Alliant GWACs as their primary vehicles for IT services.

Having a broad-based scope built on Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) that allows for “anything IT anywhere” plus the ability for all contract types to be performed, the Alliant GWACs streamline the acquisition process for federal agencies, resulting in time- and cost-efficient acquisitions that lead to savings for U.S. taxpayers.

Shaping the Future Alliant

Looking to the future, GSA’s GWAC Program, is working on the next-generation GWACs: Alliant 2 (A2) and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2SB).

A2/A2SB will continue to build on our success supporting federal agencies that have mission-critical, complex IT services requirements for long-term programs.

The A2/A2SB’s pre-solicitation phase has raised the bar in terms of transparency, collaboration, and innovation, by engaging with and involving both federal agencies and industry partners in each step of the process. The A2/A2SB team performed thorough market research for over three years and laid significant groundwork in the pre-planning phase with efforts including:

  • An A2/A2SB Interact community with more than 8,200 members
  • A publically reviewed business case on OMB MAX
  • Hundreds of meetings/presentations for interested agencies
  • Customer and industry working groups
  • Seven Requests for Information (RFIs) through FedBizOpps (FBO) with two official industry days, and two separate fully comprehensive and complete draft Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
  • Five separate pre-proposal conferences attended by over 1000 people

We’re excited when we consider the future for our GWACs. The collective input and feedback toward developing A2/A2SB this past year has been our major contribution to an outstanding product.

What’s New

Here are some of the notable improvements included in A2/A2SB that will give our customers greater value:

  • scope improvements,
  • new information technology (IT) service labor categories,
  • new cybersecurity standards,
  • new environmental standards,
  • incorporation of required Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) regulations/provisions into the master contract so they automatically flow down to the task order level on any/all task orders issued by a Department of Defense (DOD) agency

Collaboration is Key

I’ve always been impressed by the amount of collaboration that goes into the Alliant GWACs among all parties: GSA, the procuring agencies, and the companies performing the work under Alliant task orders. The relationships we’ve built with our government and industry partners have been, and will be, critical to the GWAC program’s continued success.

I’m confident that our stakeholders will be pleased and I cannot overemphasize how important the collaboration is to ensuring we develop and provide a superior GWAC solution for the government. While doing market research and in planning future solicitations and innovations we want to be sure that our intentions are vetted, are on the right track, and cover all angles. The collaboration from customer agencies and industry partners helps us do that.

The final official Request For Proposals (RFPs) for A2/A2SB are on FedBizOpps now with deadlines of September 13 (A2) and September 12 (A2SB), 2016

More information is available at the A2/A2SB website and the A2/A2SB Interact Community page.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Recent Network Services Updates Benefit Agencies, Suppliers

Now that the launch of Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) is just around the corner, some recent Network Services updates will benefit both federal agencies and telecom suppliers.

In July, we unified 11 Regional Network Service programs and one program office into a single national Network Services program.

In the past, GSA’s regional and national network services’ offices provided separate solutions — regional programs provided local telecom services and the national program office provided long-distance telecom services to agencies. Each region managed regional-based contracts with different fees that provided similar services. Agencies made buying decisions geographically and GSA provided local personnel in each region to support local and long-distance ordering and service delivery.

This made sense when lines between ordering local service and long-distance service were more distinct, but it’s not true today.

Now, our agency customers will have one person to go to for their regional and long-distance (wide-area network) telecommunications.

What to Expect Going Forward

Service delivery representatives have begun to reach out to agency customers to provide guidance on local service ordering. You will see:

  • A standard single fee for local service
  • One mailbox for service requests (tsr@gsa.gov) and one for trouble reporting (fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov)
  • No more regional boundaries for Network Services
  • No more service delivery inconsistencies across the program
  • Consolidated order writing and billing departments means a central group will help you with any billing/inventory questions or disputes
  • One group of pricing and technical experts will help gather agency requirements
  • Beginning in FY 2017, consolidated agency-facing website and operational budget

When EIS is awarded, agencies and suppliers will also have:

  • Fewer contracts to manage
  • Easier-to-understand offerings, with a streamlined acquisitions portfolio
  • One portfolio of contracts with
    • consistent offerings and pricing,
    • transparent fee structures,
    • a deeper field of technical expertise,
    • consolidated operations, and
    • standard procedures

New EIS Transition Website

At the same time we’re realigning, another big priority remains transition planning to move services to EIS. The EIS transition must be complete by May 2020.

To meet this deadline, we need you to be working now on EIS transition planning.
To help you with this effort, we have:

What You Can Do Now

With realignment off and running, and transition planning in full swing, here’s what you can do:

  • Stay tuned for your new local ordering instructions
  • Work with your GSA customer service representative
  • Submit telecom service requests to tsr@gsa.gov
  • Send telecom trouble reporting to fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov
  • Confirm your agency’s telecom inventory now and have the agency EIS transition plan completed and to GSA by October 2016

Once GSA awards EIS, federal agencies will begin to issue task and service orders and start moving telecom services to EIS starting in early 2017.

If you need assistance or have any questions about agency transition, please email ITCSC@gsa.gov or call (855) 482-4348.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Updates on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)

We at GSA, customer agencies, and industry partners have been working diligently to prepare for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) — the 15-year, multi-billion-dollar contract that can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications while improving government efficiency and effectiveness and saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Our road to EIS has been a collaborative, open, and transparent journey, and we’re almost there.

We want to be sure you’re aware of the next steps and when you can expect each one.

Transition Readiness

We’ve been talking over the past year about how important it is for your agency–and others–to prepare for transition, including confirming final inventories and delivering your transition plan to GSA by October 2016. The goal is for agencies to be ready to start transitioning and do fair opportunity competitions for EIS task orders early in calendar year 2017 after EIS is ready for agency use.

With EIS just around the corner, you need to already be planning to move services to EIS now. All agency transitions will need to be completed by 2020, and it’s going to be complicated.

To meet this deadline, think of us as your business partners. We hope you’ve already started to plan. Download a copy of GSA’s EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact community site. If you need help with agency transition or other matters, reach out to us at the IT Customer Service Center at (855) 482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.

Proposal Evaluation Status and Discussions with Offerors

We are evaluating offers submitted on February 22, 2016 in response to the EIS Request for Proposal (RFP), issued in October 2015.

On July 28, 2016, we posted on the GSA EIS Interact site that we planned to contact offerors by mid-August. We are finalizing the information we intend to discuss with offerors.

Award Date and EIS Availability for Use

We want to award EIS as quickly as possible and plan to do so in early calendar year 2017. EIS can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications for the next decade.

Since we take this responsibility seriously, we’re being diligent, thoughtful, and thorough to maximize value for the government, industry, and the American people.

We remain committed to collaborating and working openly with you now and going forward.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Better Pricing, Better Value, & Better Shopping Equals A Better Schedule 70

Since 1949, GSA’s mission has been to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology to government and the American people. We pursue this mission relentlessly, and have always welcomed input from all stakeholders as we seek new and effective ways to bring more value to our federal customers. That’s why we appreciate the recommendations presented in a recent audit by GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). Conducted between 2011 through early 2016, this audit  found that some contracts on GSA’s IT Schedule 70 offered identical products at widely varying prices. And that some items were being offered at prices higher than commercial sales.  

We agree with these concerns, which is why we have been working for the past three years to fundamentally transform the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program, reduce prices, and streamline processes. I’m a consumer too. I’ll come back to a store when I know I’m getting the best deal — anything to avoid going from store to store comparing prices. And that’s exactly what IT Schedule 70 shoppers have told us they want, too. As FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe laid out in his October 2015 blog, we’ve responded to our customers by working to meet that challenge. Over the past few years we’ve been adding new tools and innovations to IT Schedule 70 so that we can give our customers what they want: better pricing, better values and a better shopping experience.

We heard from procurement leaders across government that price variability on Schedules was a problem. In response, we spearheaded the Competitive Pricing Initiative (CPI), which looks at the current prices of identical products offered by suppliers through MAS and identifies opportunities for more competitive prices. Since it began in FY 2015, CPI has led to price reductions on roughly 1.4 million items across all of GSA’s 15 products Schedules –savings we passed directly to agencies.

Our customers told us it was difficult and time consuming to compare prices between different contractors. To fix this, we asked vendors to standardize part numbers and collected existing Universal Price Codes (UPCs). Now government buyers can more easily find and compare products and prices on Schedules.

To help small businesses that don’t have the resources to conduct extensive analyses, we added a Horizontal Pricing Analysis application to our e-toolbox. This market-research resource  provides MAS contracting officers (COs) with additional data to pass on to MAS suppliers so they can be as competitive as possible.

To help our COs navigate pricing in a rapidly moving IT market we implemented GSA Price Point (XSB), an automated tool that lets them compare products and evaluate prices of all existing and future GSA Advantage! product listings and contract price modifications.  

And we developed the Formatted Product Tool (FPT) to help our MAS contractors and COs negotiate competitive prices for products on Schedule. FPT automates price comparisons for identical items, removes burdensome processes for both vendors and federal buyers, and improves our customers’ GSA Advantage! experience.

All these tools and capabilities help government contracting professionals negotiate prices that are in line and competitive with government and commercial marketplace prices. They also provide transparency and better value to both the government and Industry. Central to GSA’s mission is that we deliver value to the federal government and the American people. While IT Schedule 70 is not perfect, we recognize the challenges we’re facing and have have taken concrete steps to make pricing more competitive and to provide the tools to help buyers make smart purchasing decisions.

However, we are aware that we must continue to address the very issues identified by the IG and continue to transform the MAS program, reducing prices and streamlining processes.

Since that study began in 2011, we have fundamentally changed the way we do business with industry and how our contracting officers work. We have made significant improvements as we tackle pricing issues across the Schedules program. At the same time, we have also cut the time it takes to award contracts, determined a new path for startups to get on Schedule faster, and strengthened our focus on compliance.  With the new Transactional Data Reporting pilot we’ll start to collect and share more information on what the government buys and how much we pay for products and services. After looking at all the changes we have implemented, and looking forward to the improvements we’ll be making down the road, I am more confident and proud than ever that IT Schedule 70 will continue to provide the very best value to all of our important stakeholders.