Agency Mobile Resources at the Ready following OMB Memo

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements. Acquisition solutions include Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – EIS (the future replacement for Networx), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Wireless (FSSI-W), and the Federal Relay Service.

Many of you are aware that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Mobile Services and Devices memo on August 4, 2016. The intent is to vastly enhance acquisition and management of mobile services and devices across government.

Resources and Tools Are Available to Help Agencies

Agencies saw an early draft of the memo and now that it’s final, it’s a great time to review resources available to support every agency in achieving the goals set forth by and in the spirit of the OMB memo.

Leverage Government-wide Acquisition Strategies – Resource number one is the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution. It gives agencies a variety of service plan and device options from leading national wireless carriers. Information about the program and how to order is available on the GSA website.

Another resource is GSA’s Wireless Economic Model downloadable Excel-based spreadsheet to give agencies a rough order of magnitude concerning your estimated costs and savings when using new wireless service plans. In addition, a Wireless Guide is available to help agencies move from existing contracts and carriers with step-by-step instructions. You can also access a User’s Guide, FSSI Wireless Ordering Template, and ordering instructions. For more resources and templates, visit the Enterprise Mobility Resources web portal.

Optimize Plan Pricing and Device Refresh Schedules – When it comes to OMB’s directive to optimize pricing, the GSA mobile solution has a strong three-year track record of success in optimizing plans and cost savings. About 85% of defense and civilian cabinet-level agencies are using FSSI Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), achieving a government total $29 million savings compared to prior rates since the May 2013 FSSI-W award. Agencies that have moved to the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution find average cost savings of 27% compared to previous wireless service costs. These agencies pay on average $14 less per unit per month. As a reminder, the BPA published prices differ from the actual service prices agencies have negotiated when using the FSSI-W BPAs so please check with us to get prices paid information when you are making comparisons. You’ll find that it’s hard to beat the prices we’ve achieved for the features in the service plans offered.

Carriers include devices at no cost with service plans and users have a choice of devices with each service plan. In accordance with OMB’s guidance, previous generation devices are typically equally capable of meeting government requirements and can be acquired at significantly lower prices. Agencies also have the option to buy service plans for government-furnished equipment (GFE) and user-owned devices.

Scheduling device refreshes is flexible too. No-cost device refreshes happen based on commercially available cycles of 10 to 20 months, although agencies can determine a refresh schedule that works best for their users.

Baseline Agency Usage and Quarterly Reports – Once an agency uses the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution, the built-in requirements for carriers to provide usage reports will assist in agency quarterly reporting. These reports can help agencies to analyze usage and optimize mobile service levels, including identifying and terminating unused (or zero-use) devices and services. The pooling option for data and minutes saves dollars for agency customers by allowing agency high-volume users to leverage purchased and unused minutes and data from lower volume users.

Optimize Agency Requirements – The OMB memo also addresses actions agencies must take to consolidate contracts, track and improve inventory of mobile devices, and pool mobile services to avoid overage charges. Depending on size, agencies using the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution can choose to consolidate wireless contracts at the bureau level and then into one enterprise-wide agency contract. Smaller agencies might fully consolidate initially without phases.

Reach Out for Personal Assistance

For more assistance, GSA has an Enterprise Mobility Team that is happy to help with any questions you have or support you need. You can contact us toll-free at (855) ITaid4U (482-4348), or contact our Enterprise Mobility Team directly through kelly.adams@gsa.gov, richard.jones@gsa.gov or jon.johnson@gsa.gov.

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

Cloud SIN Continues to Rain Success

As I reported back in January (The Cloud SIN: Making Sense of Cloud Options, Jan. 21, 2016), we successfully implemented our Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 on IT Schedule 70 last year. We added the Cloud SIN to make it even easier for agencies to find cloud-specific solutions, and I’m happy to report that the SIN continues to see notable growth in both customer and industry participation with dozens of solicitations and 23 vendors adopting the SIN.

The Cloud SIN allows us to centralize and streamline access to cloud computing services that help meet federal, state, and local governments’ ever-evolving needs. Agencies can now clearly distinguish cloud from non-cloud IT products and services in order to get to the right solution quickly. All of the cloud solutions are organized in focused sub-categories that are defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The SIN also provides our industry partners with the enhanced ability to market distinctive cloud computing solutions and offerings.

Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Ground

Offerings through the Cloud SIN continue to become more robust, now with 23 industry partners qualified to offer solutions through the SIN. This is further fueled by federal agencies as several have issued nearly 70 solicitations against it.

One of the latest solicitations comes from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an enterprise-wide Request for Quotation (RFQ) with a contract value of $1.6 billion over a ten-year period (RFQ HSHQDC-16-Q-00195). In addition to DHS, several other agencies have also submitted Cloud SIN solicitations including; the U.S. Air Force, Department of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Army, and the Department of Interior.

The SIN is popular because agencies can easily solicit from a vetted field of supplier offerings, determined by GSA to fit five essential cloud characteristics:

  • on-demand self-service,
  • broad network access,
  • resource pooling,
  • rapid elasticity,
  • and measured service.

Learning More About Cloud

For more resources on the Cloud SIN, including guidance for transitioning your company’s services onto the SIN or how to use the SIN to build a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), please visit our Cloud SIN page.

Our Cloud team also regularly hosts informational webinars to discuss our whole suite of cloud solutions. The most recent one, How to Acquire Cloud and Make it Secure, featured Ashley Mahan, GSA FedRAMP Agency Evangelist. Ashley discussed FedRAMP and how it applies to the Federal Community and Industry. In the same webinar, ITS’s Skip Jentsch provided an overview of the cloud computing services we offer, and demonstrated how these acquisition vehicles can save time, money, and risk associated with procuring cloud services.

Check out the slide deck on our LinkedIn page and stay tuned to our Twitter feed @GSA_ITS for future events.

Government-wide Desktops and Laptops, Smarter Buying

Note: This is a guest blog post by Kay Ely, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Integrated Technology Services.

ITS prides itself on providing federal agencies with IT solutions at the best value through the smoothest possible buying process. The recent addition of a new approach to buying hardware, the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for laptops and desktops, is a prime example of how several agencies worked together with our partners across government and industry to improve the buying process and at the same time get better prices for federal, state and local governments.

As govvies, we depend on laptops and desktops every day to get our work done and the amount we spend on computers proves it. Every year the federal government spends more than $1 billion to ensure that we have the critical equipment to do our jobs. 80 percent of that is spent on the same equipment from the same companies across thousands of contracts, with little visibility from one agency to the next as to what price is being paid. We knew there had to be a better way.

By working closely with agencies and industry partners an innovative approach was developed for acquiring the best equipment at the best price. To put it simply, standardizing requirements, and buying collectively – this is the “Governmentwide Approach”.

How’d we accomplished this?

Using a category management approach, IT Schedule 70 conducted a reverse auction to support the Office of Management and Budget’s recent GSS Laptop/Desktop buying events.

Thirty-six agency representatives attended these buying events to learn more about their computer purchasing options and five agencies have already collectively estimated intent to buy 56,000 laptops and desktops – this “acting as one” approach drove prices down by an average of 16 percent. And that is one good example! The GSS team plans to conduct buying events on a bi-annual basis moving forward.

To participate, suppliers submitted their initial quotes for six optimized configurations (three laptop and three desktop) to GSA via eBuy. Those who were rated technically acceptable were invited to participate in the pricing phase through the GSA Reverse Auction platform. Impress Technologies Solutions Inc. (Dell), ABM Federal Sales (Hewlett-Packard), and NCS Technologies Inc. (Lenovo) were awarded those contracts.

To make it easy for more agencies to benefit from this, we have been hosting Government-wide Strategic Solutions for Desktops and Laptops Buying Event Office Hours – informational sessions with agencies to explain the category management principles applied, the configurations and how to easily place orders.

Better Buying for the Future

Using this program, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has already placed an order for $230,845 which included 100 laptops and 125 desktops. This new pricing enabled the Museum to maximize their budget and get an additional 55 computers that they otherwise couldn’t have. Overall, this came to a savings, against the old pricing, of nearly $75K.

This is the first time that the government has bought laptops and desktops in this way. It’s a great example of category management at work — government and industry worked together, saving U.S. taxpayers an initial $8 million governmentwide, with additional savings to come as more agencies leverage these contracts.

By using this program, your agency could save up to 27 percent off the GSA standard pricing. Of course, the actual savings are going to vary from item to item, but overall this is very good for government. We’re encouraged by the initial success of this program. As we near the end of the fiscal year, government agencies can benefit greatly from the lower pricing to get the best value possible for their dollars spent.

To learn more about the configurations, contracts and to make your purchase, see GSA Advantage or the Acquisition Gateway.

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

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.