Can Your Network Adapt to Current and Future Demands? With SD-WAN, It Can!

Posted by Laura Stanton
on January 14, 2021

How adaptable is your network?

Think back on how your organization worked through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’ll have your answer.

Having a Modernized Infrastructure Paid Off

Agencies with modernized services such as Ethernet-based networks and software-based IP phones were able to operate with minimal disruption as their workforce shifted to full time telework. They took advantage of scalable bandwidth to quickly meet increased network requirements without the need for physical or onsite changes. This agility is one of the many advantages of modern infrastructure and cloud deployed applications. IP Voice users similarly kept making calls regardless of their physical location, and those with Unified Communications leveraged capabilities such as chat, conferencing, collaboration tools and presence applications to keep their workforce on mission.

SD-WAN Integrates and Orchestrates Your Network

IT leaders are actively seeking to implement a new networking technology called Software Defined – Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN can securely connect your headquarters, data centers, branch offices, and remote workers with numerous cloud-based services. SD-WAN can enable Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) use cases, segment users and applications, and play a role in Zero Trust Network architectures.

SD-WAN Is Now a Managed Service Under EIS

We recently added SD-WAN to our Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. SD-WAN is ideal for improving network performance since it increases visibility and control enterprise-wide. It saves money and increases performance by allowing the use of different types of internet connections such as broadband internet, 4G/5G wireless internet or high-availability Direct Internet Access based on availability and need. It can even be incorporated with existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits for critical applications.

SD-WAN Features and Ordering At-a-Glance

Our team created four new use cases for SD-WAN, Ethernet, IP Voice and Traditional TIC to show key info as a handy reference. These single-page infographics highlight the technologies we see driving modernization, the business value those technologies can offer you, and our implementation recommendations. We also offer supporting documents such as in-depth savings analyses, service guides, and whitepapers.

Software Defined - Wide Area Network graphic
SD-WAN Modernization Use Case pictured above. Download the PDF version.

In a GSA analysis of SD-WAN, medium-sized agencies can achieve a cost avoidance of 42%. Our SD-WAN Overview and Ordering Guide lays out everything you need to evaluate SD-WAN and acquire it on EIS. How’s your network able to support the ever-expanding use of cloud services? Utilize the numerous GSA resources to assist your organization to modernize with SD-WAN.

For additional information on what IT modernization could look like for your agency, please contact your designated GSA representative or call 855-482-4348.

Visit the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions page to learn more and use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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

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Polaris: Women Owned Small Businesses, Get SBA Certified

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on January 11, 2021

On December 31, 2020, GSA released the Draft Request For Proposal (RFP) for comment for our next generation small business GWAC, Polaris. With the creation of Polaris, GSA will build on the success of the now-expired Alliant Small Business GWAC by providing additional opportunities for small businesses, including but not limited to, HUBZone and woman-owned small business (WOSB) firms. We couldn’t be more proud of our team for putting this together, and we’re looking forward to your feedback.

WOSBs are Key Contributors

As we indicated in the draft RFP, GSA is considering socioeconomic pools to include WOSBs to maximize competition within the Information Technology Category. It’s very important to GSA that WOSBs are included in our contracts as they are key contributors to the government marketplace. It’s vital that the government have access to a robust pool of SBA certified WOSBs to ensure access to as broad of an industrial base as possible.

GSA is encouraging WOSBs to respond to the draft RFP to help ensure the following:

  1. there is a sufficient pool of WOSBs that are SBA certified
  2. to meet the annual federal goal of 5 percent of all federal contract dollars spent being awarded to WOSBs
  3. to help increase competition in the IT emerging technologies and innovations space.

You’re a WOSB, Why Get Involved?

In FY20, the federal government invested more than $87 billion in IT, with approximately $47 billion allocated to IT services. Federal agencies awarded $15.6 billion in IT services to small businesses, with more than $5 billion awarded through IT Category contracts. Every day, small businesses are making a huge impact in helping agencies achieve their missions.

SBA WOSB Certification

As of July 15, 2020, The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented Congress’ changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, as outlined in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

We’re encouraging WOSBs to work with the SBA, which implements and administers the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, in order to understand and navigate the certification process to ensure the right certifications are in place.

  • Before firms can compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside (including Polaris) contracts, they must apply for certification through the new process on beta.certify.sba.gov
  • For more information about the new application process, please review the following fact sheet.
  • Additionally, beta.Certify Knowledge Base is a valuable resource for firms to get started learning about this new platform with how-to videos, user guides.

WOSBs, Helping Light the Way

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of our small business GWAC program and Polaris is going to help light the way. To be truly successful, we need your help in getting WOSBs certified.

To follow the Polaris conversation subscribe to the GSA Interact page: Small Business GWAC Community of Interest. Also, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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Working Untethered: Enable Your Mission with GSA Best-In-Class Mobility Solutions

Posted by Laura Stanton
on December 14, 2020

In the 1990s, the Department of Defense adopted the term “untethered” to describe an emerging military doctrine made possible by advances in wireless communications technology. Untethered operations meant they could be launched anytime, anywhere, thanks to systems that were flexible, secure, cost-effective, and —above all— attainable.

Out of necessity, the federal workforce is now working untethered. Sometimes, that makes us feel isolated, but we know the productivity tools we are putting in place today will shape how agencies can effectively carry out their missions tomorrow. Now is the time to equip the mobile workforce with the right mix of products and services, so teams can continue to work untethered while still staying connected.

Untethered Doesn’t Mean You’re On Your Own

GSA’s Wireless Mobility Solutions Program keeps your workforce connected and anchored; it provides everything you need to support your agency’s wireless needs. Our Best-in-Class (BIC) contract includes wireless carriers and resellers, telecommunications expense management, mobile device management, mobile security, and more.

The Wireless Mobility Solutions Special Item Number (Wireless SIN) on the Multiple Award Schedule is the path that makes it possible.

Everything Where You Need It

The Wireless SIN is a seasoned contract that is continuously evolving to keep pace with commercial offerings and best practices. Because it’s Best-in-Class, agencies will have access to category management data they can leverage to save time and resources.

Building on the successes of the FSSI Wireless BPA program, we’ve expanded the Wireless SIN to create a one-stop-shop that includes 11 subcategories.

  1. Wireless Carrier Services
  2. Mobile Hardware/Infrastructure
  3. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
  4. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
  5. Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS)
  6. Telecom Expense Management Services (TEMS)
  7. Mobile Application Vetting
  8. Mobile Threat Protection (MTP)
  9. Mobile Identity Management
  10. Internet of Things (IoT)
  11. Other/Mobile Services

Tested and Proven

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of streamlined acquisition. A public health agency was able to use our program and quickly gain access to more than 7,000 first responder-capable wireless devices to better support their efforts across the country.

A Contract with a Community

Improving customer experience is a driving force behind every ITC offering. In addition to managing a Best-in-Class contract, the Wireless Mobility team at GSA supports a growing number of digital tools and resources to position your program and contracting staff for long-term success, including:

Our Wireless Mobility team also plays a key role in the ongoing efforts of the Federal Mobility Group (FMG), an interagency community of practice focused on 5G adoption, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, artificial intelligence, security concerns and policy regulations. Through the FMG, our community is engaged in continuous learning and collaboration. Everyone is untethered, but no one is alone.

Untether Today

If you have comments, questions, or want to join the FMG, contact our Wireless Mobility team at wireless@gsa.gov

GSA’s MAS IT Category continually works to deliver enterprise mobility solutions to achieve value, cost savings, and balance between functionality, security, and management for its customers. Take advantage of the BIC Wireless Mobility Solutions SIN and more by visiting our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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

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Veteran Owned Companies Bring Cybersecurity Expertise to Federal Customers

Posted by Laura Stanton
on November 12, 2020

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we want to take a moment to appreciate all of the men and women who contribute to this great nation through their service in our military. America’s veterans are one of our most valued resources. Veterans bring a unique skill set, knowledge, and experience to everything they do; and GSA has been able to tap into their valuable expertise through our Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) contract for IT Services, VETS 2.

GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract is available to all federal customers. Agencies purchasing IT services through the VETS 2 contract demonstrate how prevalent veterans are in supporting mission-critical IT services needs across the federal landscape. One of the important core capabilities of VETS 2 is Cybersecurity. The SDVOSB firms on the contract have done the work, and 77 percent of the firms have extensive experience in cybersecurity. More than 60 of the VETS 2 industry partners have a secret or top-secret facilities clearance. These companies are well established in the IT industry. The background they bring with their previous military experience has been key to their success.

The IRS, Treasury, DHS, DoD, Army, and Air Force have all tapped into the expertise of our VETS 2 Industry Partners. They have placed task orders on the contract for IT Security and Cybersecurity requirements. Since the inception of the VETS 2 contract in February of 2018, there have been 21 task orders specifically to support IT Security needs within the government. This shows that veterans can provide the specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities that are needed today.

The single largest task order that has been issued on the VETS 2 contract was completed by GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM) on behalf of the United States Army Pacific (USARPAC). This task order will help USARPAC in providing a quality-focused process and capability that enables effective sustainment and modernization of critical Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4), and IT systems. These services include site surveys, engineering, design, procurement, logistics, implementation, operations and maintenance, knowledge management, cybersecurity, and training of new and existing C4 IT systems. This is an excellent example of the broad capabilities available through VETS 2.

2020 has been hugely successful for the VETS 2 contract, with 97 task orders worth more than $1 billion. This contract is only in its third year and is already surpassing expectations. There are 69 industry partners on the contract with a variety of specialized IT services core capabilities. VETS 2 is also a Best-in-Class contract as designated by the Office of Management and Budget. Federal customers using VETS 2 will receive socioeconomic credit toward small business goals as well as credit toward their
Spend Under Management goals.

On Veteran’s Day each year, we reflect on the hard, mission-enabling work our veterans continue to deliver for our government every day, and I couldn’t be more proud of our VETS 2 team and industry partners.

For more information about the industry partners on the contract, check out our VETS 2 website.

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

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Authorization to Operate: Preparing Your Agency’s Information System

Posted by Laura Stanton
on October 30, 2020

To close out National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are some steps federal agencies can take to protect their IT systems from cyber attacks and cybersecurity vulnerabilities using the Authorization to Operate (ATO) process.

An ATO demonstrates that a federal agency has gone through a federally approved, detailed process to protect an IT system from incidents such as cyberattacks, security breaches, malware, and phishing attempts. Many federal IT systems are required to obtain an ATO to process government data and federal regulations recommend that agencies follow the Risk Management Framework (RMF) to become authorized.

GSA’s Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS) Special Item Number (SIN) provides solutions for all of an agency’s cybersecurity service needs, including RMF. The HACS SIN connects agencies with vendors who have passed oral technical evaluations for cybersecurity services performed within the RMF, and who are ready to assist agencies with the RMF process for a successful authorization.

RMF Graphic full definitions ATO highlight (3)
Disclaimer: RMF steps can vary based on an organization’s cybersecurity needs.

All of the steps, tasks, and activities that precede the “Authorize” step of the RMF help to prepare the information system for the authorizing official’s appraisal. The authorizing official is not a contractor, but a federal employee of whichever agency is seeking ATO.

The HACS SIN connects federal agencies with contractors who can help in each stage of the RMF. Contractors can assist agencies in producing the deliverables associated with each RMF step listed in the chart below.

Disclaimer: RMF deliverables can vary based on an organization’s cybersecurity needs.

Once an agency has successfully completed the first four steps of the RMF (“Categorize” through “Assess”), an authorizing official will evaluate the system. The authorizing official for the federal agency in question evaluates residual risks identified during the security control assessment, and makes the decision to authorize the system to operate, deny its operation, or ask the agency to address any issues.

When granting an ATO, authorizing officials look for the following checklist of items:

  • Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M)
  • Authorization Package
  • Final Risk Determination and Risk Acceptance
  • Authorization Decision

The POA&M is one of the most important deliverables produced in the RMF process. It reflects organizational priorities for addressing any remaining weaknesses and deficiencies in an information system and its environment of operation. The Authorization Package includes all key documents including the security plan, security assessment report, and the POA&M. 

Following the RMF steps helps your agency to achieve ATO, but the work does not end after an ATO is issued. Agencies must also continuously monitor their systems to ensure that security controls remain effective over time.

In addition, many federal agencies must reauthorize their information systems every three years by going through the RMF process again. This is where the final step of the RMF, “Monitor Controls,” is important. As part of continuous monitoring, a sample of the applicable security controls are tested annually, periodic vulnerability scanning is performed, and security impact analysis of changes are performed. If an agency continuously monitors its systems over those three years by documenting specific technical changes, environment changes, or changes to the organizational risk management strategy, it may be easier to renew an ATO because any security risks can  be mitigated at the time they occur. 

For more information on HACS RMF services and how using the HACS SIN can make it easier for your agency to achieve an ATO, 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.

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Polaris: GSA’s Next-Generation Small Business GWAC

Posted by Laura Stanton
on October 1, 2020

As an organization, GSA places a lot of importance on guiding IT service providers in forming relationships and doing business with the federal government. GSA is also here to assist agencies as they navigate the marketplace of emerging and transformative IT solutions that will help them achieve their missions and perform efficiently.

With that in mind, we’re naming our next-generation Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) “Polaris,” and we’re developing it with these important attributes as our guides.

Polaris is also known as “The Guiding Star” in the night sky. This GWAC represents another step forward for the next generation of IT services based solutions from GSA. Polaris will not only guide small businesses through the federal market, it will also help GSA customer agencies through the acquisition of IT service-based solutions, and give GSA a chance to improve our offerings and set the agency on a solid course for the future.

On August 27, GSA hosted “Your Voice Matters: Help Shape GSA’s Next Small Business GWAC Industry Forum.” During the event, attendees heard firsthand about our vision for providing opportunities for small businesses – including underrepresented socio-economic categories – and state-of-the-art IT solutions for federal agencies through next-generation GWACs.

Teamwork makes the dream work

GSA recognizes the value of collaborating with our industry partners, customers, and other stakeholders. The only way to improve the quality and availability of IT services in the marketplace is to know exactly how agencies and industry partners feel about current products and processes, as well as opportunities for innovation. For that reason, we solicited feedback from industry partners prior to and during the industry forum. At that time, we also vowed to keep the conversation going.

To facilitate that dialogue, we launched the SB GWAC Community of Interest (COI). The COI is a webpage that allows for an exchange of thoughts on topics related to all of GSA’s small business GWACs. This input will be taken into consideration as we develop a plan forward. Additionally, engagement with agency and industry partners will continue through additional market research.

Broadening the Industrial Base

Pricing Strategy: GSA is considering new strategies to increase our pool of qualified small businesses that serve federal agencies. One of the most ambitious approaches involves the potential employment of Section 876 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act in the next-generation vehicle, through FAS’s “Enhancing Competition at the Order Level” initiative under the Federal Marketplace Strategy. Section 876 gives GSA authority to award contracts to qualifying offerors without considering prices for services acquired on an hourly rate basis.

As this would shift the focus to pricing competition at the task order level – it is important that we continue our efforts to increase competition in the marketplace by creating opportunities for qualified small businesses.

On-ramps: By offering open season on-ramps, the industrial base could be expanded as technology changes, the market evolves, and to improve competition at the task order level. This would be a great benefit to federal agencies. On-ramping could allow agencies continuous access to top performing industry partners that offer the latest advancements in technology. On-ramping will also allow vendors the opportunity for consideration to be on the GWAC following the initial award period.

Additionally, small businesses with fresh ideas could have the opportunity to participate in the federal IT services marketplace. This approach could also improve overall federal government efficiency and might potentially help close the age-old government/private sector technology gap.

Opportunity Expansion: GSA’s small business GWACs have supported agencies in meeting their small business goals for more than two decades. We want to build on this success by looking at small businesses without socio economic status as well as options to increase opportunities for HUBZone and woman-owned small businesses. GSA is also eager to engage with industry about the possibilities of providing lifecycle opportunities on GSA contract vehicles for small businesses as they grow and mature.

Embracing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Polaris aims to provide customers with streamlined access to emerging technology providers including those offering artificial intelligence, automated technologies (like robotic process automation), blockchain, 5G implementation (including edge computing), cyber security, and cloud.

Efforts to Ease the Process

In hopes of optimizing performance, GSA is improving existing business practices. Recent industry feedback has made it clear that we must work even harder to ease the strain that prospective future GWAC holders experience while trying to partner with us. For that reason, we are working on improvements to the proposal submission and evaluation processes. We’re currently exploring the use of an online proposal submission tool to expedite the award process. We’re also looking at an evaluation strategy that aligns with customer requirements, while using objective evaluation criteria to the maximum extent possible. Additionally, as a result of positive feedback received on the self-scoring approach used on VETS 2 and Alliant 2, a similar strategy for the new vehicle is being considered.

Power in Knowing

GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) has long been a valued resource to the small business community. We recognize that small businesses fuel the nation’s economy and sincerely welcome our responsibility to provide the support the community needs and expects. As with past GWAC launches, GSA is equipped to help prospective GWAC partners familiarize themselves with the process. GSA’s OSDBU team helps small businesses better position themselves for available opportunities by providing training and resources. This includes free virtual training on creating a federal marketing plan, and identifying federal customers through the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). For more information, regional OSDBU contacts can be accessed by visiting GSA’s small business support page.

We plan to host regular engagement events to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the path to the new Polaris solicitation and award. Details about our future engagements will be made available on the COI web page.

What’s the Timeline?

We are in the very early stages of the process and are looking forward to continuing dialogue with our industry partners and agency customers. We’re working to release a request for information this month and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get a draft request for proposals out within the next few months.

We are enthusiastic that our new, next-generation small business GWAC has the potential to not only increase the industrial base and pool of qualified vendors, but also vastly increase the quality and diversity of IT services available to federal agency customers.

Interested parties should join the COI.

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

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Reach the last mile with Connections II

Posted by Laura Stanton
on September 24, 2020

In today’s high-tech world, finding the right contract vehicle can mean the difference between getting a task done efficiently and tediously searching the procurement landscape.

Much can be said for an existing contract with a pre-vetted pool of qualified industry partners and efficient ordering procedures. Agencies can depend on Connections II, whether focused on present needs like supporting the demands of a 100% mobile workforce, or future goals, like using 5G networks to coordinate a galaxy of devices.

Opportunities like this do not last forever. In this post we will take a look at one of our proven contracts that is now entering its final phase. Agencies that act now can realize some serious savings!

Connections II is a global, multi-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract. This contract makes it easy and cost effective for government agency officials to find, acquire, and implement network infrastructure solutions, including:

  • Infrastructure design, installation, and implementation.
  • Professional services to support existing networks.
  • Upgrading network equipment, standards (including IPv6), and systems.
  • Transition planning and integration services.
  • Customized client-specific systems.

All without the need to create a new contract.

After many years of service, Connections II is approaching the culmination of its period of performance. However, task orders in place by January 18, 2021 can extend for up to five years.

Why Connections II?

With Connections II, you’ll have access to convenient, one-stop shopping to meet agency needs for labor, equipment, and solutions to support telecommunications, networking and network-centric applications at the LAN, building, campus, and enterprise level.

Save Time and Money

Use the inter-agency contract to reduce agency costs and acquisition time, allowing your agency resources to focus more on mission-critical operations. Strong competition means competitive prices. Additionally, your agency may be eligible for tiered pricing.

Integrate Your Enterprise, Worldwide

Connections II helps federal agencies integrate building and campus networks as part of a global infrastructure transport telecommunications solution. It also supports traceability of equipment sources to aid in managing your supply chain.

Get Full-Service Contractor Support

Contractors help agencies determine requirements and support their business goals. Incidental construction is permitted, including integral trenching, wall repair, related electrical, and HVAC.

Access Pool of Qualified Contractors and Small Businesses

Customers have access to a highly qualified set of 19 pre-qualified/pre-selected contractors. You’ll also have the choice among 9 small businesses for making socioeconomic set-asides.

Enjoy Flexibility

As a Connections II customer, you’ll have access to multiple types of task orders. You can choose between self service or GSA-assisted task ordering. Choose from priced contract line item numbers (CLIN) or add unpriced items (anticipated and expected) that are within scope. You can also set your own timelines.

Get Expert Help

Our team understands your technical needs. We have documented sample statements of work (SOWs) and other helpful information on our Resources page. We’ll walk you through the options available as your acquisition strategy develops.

Enable Transition

While the window for Connections II is closing, the door to Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) is open wide. Included among the resources we offer is a SOW dedicated solely to managing the transition of services from one platform to another or from an old contract to a new contract. Agencies can update their infrastructure using the services provided under Connections II and smooth the way for their transitions to EIS.

For assistance anytime, please contact ConnectionsII@gsa.gov. Ask us how your agency can realize savings and reach the last mile with Connections II!

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

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The New Cloud Information Center Is About More Than Just Looks

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 26, 2020
Cloud Information Center

The enhanced Cloud Information Center is designed to help users intuitively navigate the cloud adoption process, leverage best practices, and find training opportunities.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” The ancient philosopher Plutarch first proposed this analogy nearly 2,000 years ago in his essay On Listening to Lectures to help his students learn. Though the means by which we convey knowledge have expanded, the same didactic concept can be applied to educating the Federal IT workforce about cloud computing.

Last year, the government updated its Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. Known as Cloud Smart, the strategy identified three key pillars of successful cloud adoption—security, procurement, and workforce—and directed actions be taken to strengthen them. Number one on the list was the creation of “a central location to share guidance and best practices on cloud-related topics with [government] agencies.

GSA created the Cloud Information Center (CIC) to serve as this cloud computing knowledge hub and frontline resource for Cloud Smart acquisitions. It contains a comprehensive collection of up-to-date cloud computing best practices, guidance, and templates from across the government. For the past year, the CIC has been actively educating government cloud stakeholders and demonstrating how federal agencies can leverage the technology to effectively enable their respective goals and missions.

As Plutarch’s insight into human learning demonstrates, putting all the information in one place is not enough, it must be presented in a way that is approachable and sparks interest. Having accomplished its first goal of centralizing the government’s cloud knowledge, the next iteration of the CIC delivers a positive digital experience that prioritizes accessibility and learning.

The enhanced CIC joins 18F, Centers of Excellence and FedRAMP in leveraging the Federalist platform and U.S. Web Design System to deliver rapid deployment and modern design. Visitors will enjoy an improved user experience: a cleaner interface, more intuitive navigation, and content organized in sequence of the cloud adoption lifecycle. The enhanced CIC follows the core user experience requirements set forth in the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, making it:

  • accessible and usable
  • based around user needs and tasks
  • consistent in appearance
  • securely hosted and connected
  • original, not duplicative
  • searchable
  • mobile-friendly

By embracing these human-centered design principles, the CIC will be more accessible to individuals with disabilities and better positioned to serve a wider audience.

The CIC is a collaborative effort. It will continue to promote and enable governmentwide adoption and deployment of cloud technologies without bias towards any particular contract vehicle, vendor or solution. It incorporates information and experiences from government agencies, industry, academia and other cloud-involved entities. If you are a cloud stakeholder who is interested in contributing to the CIC, making suggestions, listing a cloud contract vehicle or otherwise improving the tool’s comprehensiveness and accuracy, the GSA Cloud Team wants to hear from you.

Email cloudinfo@gsa.gov to contribute a cloud resource, share your feedback or to reach a cloud subject matter expert.

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

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STARS II, Taking Action

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 18, 2020

The federal government places great importance on providing opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses to gain experience and learn how to compete in the federal marketplace. In partnership with the Small Business Administration, GSA is helping the federal government provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by the socially and economically disadvantaged. Competition is intentionally limited on certain contracts to businesses that participate in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.

As a small disadvantaged business set-aside that provides flexible access to customized IT services and IT-services based solutions from a large, diverse pool of 8(a) industry partners, 8(a) STARS II has been a critical mission-enabler for agencies. We couldn’t be more proud of our 8(a) partners and their long track record of success. STARS II has exceeded our expectations at every turn and has been increasingly successful in serving the IT solutions needs of the federal government. As a result of the important work that agencies are doing through STARS II, we recently reached the contract’s ceiling for the third time.

Partnering closely with the SBA, GSA took quick action and raised the contract’s ceiling by $7B to $22B. This will help preserve the IT services supplier base during a national crisis, minimize disruption to agencies purchasing during the pandemic, and provide agencies continued access to STARS II until STARS III is available. SBA has been a great partner throughout this process. They see the unprecedented health and economic emergency caused by COVID-19 and how the pandemic is threatening the survival of many small businesses. Sustaining America’s small businesses, and ensuring maximum, practicable opportunity for small businesses, is at the heart of SBA’s mission. Their support was critical in meeting the statutory requirements under the Competition in Contracting Act that made this modification possible.

Without this much-needed increase, no new task orders could have been awarded on STARS II and all businesses on STARS II would have been ineligible for any additional business through this GWAC. The ceiling increase allows each of the 787 businesses on STARS II to continue offering Best-in-Class IT solutions to agency clients through the current contract ordering period ending August 30, 2021.

Unexpected Consequences of Demand

If GSA and SBA had not increased the ceiling, agencies could not have responded to COVID as quickly and none of the STARS II firms would have received new awards. We quickly determined that the only way to help enable a rapid agency response to the pandemic and to protect the industrial base was to increase the ceiling and keep all firms eligible during the response to the crisis.

GSA and SBA only had two viable options to raise the ceiling: 1.) to only allow firms in the SBA 8(a) program (excluding contract holders who had graduated) to receive directed task order awards, or 2.) to raise the ceiling for all industry partners, but reduce the Period of Performance (PoP).

GSA in coordination with SBA determined raising the ceiling and decreasing the PoP to 2 years was the best business decision for several reasons:

  1. GSA and SBA anticipated the 2-year PoP would permit agencies to respond to the immediate agency needs for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. All of the 8(a) STARS II vendors will now have the opportunity to pursue $7 billion in new business. Approximately 538 vendors have graduated from the 8(a) Program and, thanks to the ceiling increase, are still benefiting from the opportunities on 8(a) STARS II. In addition, the 204 current 8(a) firms and 45 Joint Venture firms also now are able to compete for up to $7 billion in new opportunities.
  3. A 2-year PoP will allow 8(a) program graduates the opportunity to transition out of the STARS II program. Both GSA and SBA provide a wide variety of training courses and other resources to assist small businesses that have graduated from the 8(a) Program with positioning themselves to win Federal contracts. Examples include training and guidance on finding Federal procurement opportunities, pursuing small business set asides, and becoming a mentor-protege. More information is available at SBA Learning Center and GSA Small Business.

STARS II is a flexible and high-performing contract that agencies need now more than ever as we navigate new ways of providing employee and citizen services. This contract vehicle is doing a lot of good and important work for industry and government during the pandemic and, as a good partner to the 8(a) community, we’re pleased to ensure that it can continue.

For more information, you can view a recording of our recent town hall with industry on the topic of the ceiling increase on YouTube.

What’s Next: The Future of the 8(a) STARS GWAC Program

We are excited to move forward to the next phase of the STARS franchise as we prepare for 8(a) STARS III. The solicitation for 8(a) STARS III was released on July 6, 2020.

We have developed an aggressive solicitation and evaluation timeline to make awards for 8(a) STARS III as soon as possible. The 8(a) STARS III GWAC will continue GSA’s commitment to providing world-class information technology solutions, and also add innovation in the areas of emerging technology and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS).

We expect STARS III to remain a go-to contract vehicle for agencies wanting to work with small, disadvantaged businesses, trusted for responsiveness to the IT solutions demands of our customer agencies.

Please 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.

How can GSA improve future Small Business GWACs? Join us virtually on Thursday, August 27th at 3 pm Eastern to help.

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GSA IT Acquisition University – Train On Demand!

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 5, 2020
GSA IT Acquisition University

The IT Acquisition University is designed to increase access to on-demand information technology training for interested IT government professionals.

Federal acquisition can be a murky topic. When procuring IT products that can’t be seen, are hard to quantify, and are on the cutting edge of innovation, federal acquisition becomes even more difficult. To make things easier, we launched a new training tool, the IT Acquisition University (ITAU), that aims to cut through and demystify the challenges of government IT acquisition.

Hosted on GSA’s Acquisition Gateway, ITAU is a public, on-demand platform that gives users access to training on such topics as cybersecurity, cloud migration, and federal IT modernization. A library of videos, slideshows, audio, and other media will be at the fingertips of those looking to increase their IT acquisition skillset. Government users seeking Continuous Learning Point (CLP) opportunities can take advantage of short quizzes after each completed training to earn CLPs on their own schedule. Whether you are a contracting professional, program manager, or a federal IT stakeholder, the breadth of material aims to appeal to all program levels and positions.

GSA’s ITAU sources its content from many of GSA’s own training and events. Access recordings of recent GSA Information Technology Category (ITC) programming to stay up-to-date with best practices, acquisition tips and tricks, and more. The portal also has GSA-specific training available for many of its contracts, such as Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). Regular content refreshes will ensure that the site’s training material stays relevant and useful.

We hope that the federal IT acquisition community will take advantage of this exciting educational tool. GSA ITC welcomes user feedback and questions at the following email: ITAU@gsa.gov.

Please 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.

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