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FAR Rule Change Makes Buying IT Quicker

Recent changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) now make it easier for federal agencies to use GSA contract vehicles or assisted acquisition solutions to fulfill their IT needs.

Effective June 5, 2019, GSA, with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), issued a final FAR rule amendment, previously implemented in FAR 17.502-1(a). It uses section 875 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to amend section 865 of the Duncan Hunter NDAA for fiscal year 2019.

In the past, the FAR required agencies to go through an extra step to justify the use of GSA’s IT Schedule 70, Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), or assisted acquisition solutions as the best procurement approach to fulfill IT acquisition needs.

Rule Change Benefits

This FAR rule change removes this step in the acquisition process. Federal customers now face reduced administrative burdens, making it quicker and easier to buy IT solutions through GSA.

Specific impacts of this rule change include:

  1. removing the requirement to justify the best procurement approach if issuing orders against contracts under the GSA Schedules Program such as IT Schedule 70, or through GWACs such as 8(a) STARS 2 and Alliant 2; and
  2. removing the requirement to justify the best procurement approach if using GSA for assisted acquisitions.

End-of-FY Spending

As a result, this rule change removes burdens from federal customers. They can now identify and quickly use GSA IT Category (ITC) contracts and acquisition solutions, especially as they embark on their end-of-year IT spending and acquisition efforts.

What We Offer

Our contracts and acquisition solutions are dedicated to providing federal agencies with a full range of IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions. We maximize customer value and mission productivity.

We support 98% of federal agencies, facilitating more than $24 billion in IT purchases annually. Our customers have saved nearly $2 billion from using our solutions.

Best-in-Class Fair

We currently offer 10 acquisition vehicles that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has labeled as Best in Class (BIC). Our BIC acquisition solutions include hardware, software, telecommunications, and professional services.

Come meet our BIC representatives at OMB’s Best in Class Fair on July 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Sign up now!

To find the contract solution that’s right for you, use our IT Solutions Navigator.

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

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NOAA Forecast: Clear Skies for Cloud Migration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is known for monitoring oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere. Its three-pronged mission is

  • “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
  • to share that knowledge and information with others; and
  • to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

As part of its mission, NOAA prioritizes sharing its institutional knowledge with the public, private, and academic sectors. To make public data like water reports, climate projections, and weather warnings readily available, NOAA turned to GSA’s cloud computing technology.

GSA’s Cloud Acquisition Team considers the NOAA Cloud Initiative a model effort for smart cloud migration. Using the federal cloud strategy Cloud Smart as its guide, NOAA is effectively using the cloud to support its business and mission operations.

Moving Operations and Big Data to the Cloud

According to the April 2019 NOAA Business Brief, “NOAA works with five commercial cloud providers to see how their services can facilitate full and open data access to the taxpayer and to foster innovation by leveraging new automation tools to make data more readily accessible. To date, more than 40 NOAA datasets have moved to commercial cloud provider systems.” The Brief calls for further investment in cloud computing to not only save taxpayer dollars, but also provide improved performance and cybersecurity.

Model Experience, Multiple Vendors

NOAA’s experience shows GSA’s cloud acquisition best practices in action.

First, the NOAA Cloud Initiative plans to acquire their enterprise-level cloud solution through multiple Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). By doing so, they will diversify their technical capabilities and avoid being locked in to one vendor.

Second, NOAA uses Statement of Objectives (SOO) documents instead of Statements of Work (SOW) to illustrate the agency’s cloud goals.

For example, NOAA wants their CSP to“provide cloud storage services that will provide persistent storage, backup service, long-term storage, continuity of operations (COOP), and disaster recovery services.”

By using this type of capabilities-based acquisition tool, the responsibility for preparing SOW shifts from the government to the companies that respond to the solicitation.

The NOAA Cloud Initiative package also specifies a desired contract type. Doing so lets prospective vendors know the right pricing model to propose, which saves time and avoids confusion.

Join the Cloud Information Center

If your agency is considering a transition to cloud or is acquiring a cloud solution, anchor your plan in your mission and guide it by your business objectives. Make the complicated acquisition process go faster by keeping the Cloud Smart strategy in mind.

For more cloud tips, cloud acquisition guidance, templates, and government-wide resources, visit GSA’s Cloud Information Center at gsa.gov/cic. You can also contact our Cloud Acquisition Team directly at cloudinfo@gsa.gov or by calling 202-969-7113.

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

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GSA’s Cloud Information Center: Mission Control for Your Agency’s Cloud Migration

In September 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the first cloud policy update in seven years: the Cloud Smart Strategy. Rather than emphasizing cloud adoption for its own sake, Cloud Smart focuses on how federal agencies can use cloud effectively to meet their mission-critical needs. The successful implementation of the Cloud Smart strategy requires that all stakeholders work together to access the knowledge, tools, experience and innovation happening in the federal cloud community. It’s D.C. Cloud Week and federal IT leaders across the government and the private sector are coming together to discuss the challenges, solutions and success stories happening across the cloud landscape.

The Cloud Smart strategy lays out a roadmap for agencies, and it also addresses several challenges they should expect to face along their cloud journey including security, procurement and workforce change management. To serve our federal customers and align with Cloud Smart and other federal IT initiatives, we analyzed GSA’s cloud offerings; worked across the agency to build connections between industry and government, and developed a new resource for all things cloud: the Cloud Information Center.

Cloud Information Center

The Cloud Information Center (CIC) is a central repository for all things cloud. The CIC is a collaborative community, taking the best from GSA’s experts, cloud providers, and agency champions to explain best practices and solutions around cloud issues like security, technical capabilities, and implementation. The CIC also connects federal buyers with commercial cloud providers. And, if you are new to the cloud computing space, there is a basic introduction that outlines what cloud actually is, why it’s an important tool for meeting mission-critical needs, how to deploy it, and what models are available to agencies, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

The CIC has four main sections:

  • Cloud Solutions: Business, technical, and contractual information on dozens of cloud solutions
  • Acquisition Guidance: Best-in-class templates, examples, market research, contract vehicles, and SMEs available for support
  • Policy Directives: Up-to-date repository of applicable federal IT Modernization directives and guidance
  • Vendors: Product information, case studies, contracts and more for all FedRamp-certified cloud service providers

Federal government users can access GSA’s market research as a service tool, best practices, review and download acquisition guidance, download templates, and communicate/collaborate with fellow decision-makers.

Soon, industry partners will be able to share information about their cloud capabilities with federal government customers via the CIC’s communities of interest forums. As more people join us at the CIC, we’ll add more to the community as we get user feedback about customer needs.

“When engaging with client agencies, the Cloud Adoption Center of Excellence (CoE) strives to translate the value proposition of the cloud as it relates to agency operations and missions, and to that end, it becomes increasingly important to clearly define how cloud can provide a much more robust set of technical capabilities, while emphasizing that it requires a paradigm shift in how security compliance, procurement and governance are handled,” said Bob De Luca, Executive Director of CoE. “The CIC is a great resource for the federal market that addresses and helps agencies navigate through the issues we’re seeing in our day-to-day work.”

Our mission is to help agencies meet their missions. The CIC makes it easy for federal buyers to understand and investigate how cloud, done right, can help meet their critical mission needs. GSA’s boots-on-the-ground cloud adoption experts are working with client agencies to add to, actively manage and validate the content in the CIC.

To visit the CIC, go to gsa.gov/cic. Click here for a CIC Virtual Tour. To learn more, ask questions, and receive updates, please visit and subscribe to our Cloud Interact community here.

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Updated Software SINs Reflect Changes to Commercial Market & Federal IT Policies

GSA is where category management and IT acquisition intersect. Our acquisition experts specialize in understanding both the commercial marketplace and our federal partners’ needs.

To respond to the rapidly evolving software market and some important policy directives, we have updated the three Software Special Item Numbers (SINs) on IT Schedule 70. Now our offerings align better with the way software is sold commercially. Now it’s easier for our customers to get what they need, including transferring software licenses among federal entities.

Governmentwide IT Policies

In addition to our software market innovation, we in the federal acquisition community are also witnessing an unprecedented focus and collaboration around governmentwide IT, including software:

Special Item Number (SINs) Updates

The updates to Software Special Item Numbers (SINs) 132-32, -33, and -34 will make it easier for GSA to serve our federal partners, help them comply with policies, and give them new solutions by:

  • Adding language within Term Software SIN (132-32) to define term software  licenses and distinguish between Term Software and Software as a Service (SaaS) included in the Cloud SIN (132-40);
  • Including optional software identification tags and transferability rights under SIN 132-33 Perpetual Software Licenses;
  • Renaming SIN 132-34 from Software Maintenance Service to Software Maintenance Services;
  • Adding utilization limitations under SINs 132-32, 132-33, and 132-34 clarifying rights and ownership of derivative works; and
  • Defining Commercial Supplier Agreements (CSAs) to include Enterprise User License Agreements (EULAs), Terms of Service Agreements (TOSs), and other licensing agreements.

We are dedicated to aligning what we offer with what the current marketplace’s demands, as technology changes rapidly. We work to improve the federal government’s ability to serve our ultimate stakeholder, the U.S. taxpayer

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