Fireworks, Festivities, and Connections II Dashboard Launch

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 14, 2014

In July, we celebrate America, our independence, and our freedom. Thousands of fireworks take off one after another across our beautiful night skies and we have fun with family and friends.

This year, we have one more reason to celebrate — at least in the IT and data communities.

Over the July 4th weekend, our Connections II program launched an interactive, real-time Connections II dashboard. The tool allows Connections II users to view and analyze non-classified data on federal IT purchasing activity awarded under GSA’s Connections II.

Data turned into actionable information will allow government to buy smarter, help agencies make better buying decisions, and lead to smoother bid and proposal processes. More information can help agencies better understand purchasing trends, conduct better market research, and be better negotiators. Ultimately, government buying decisions based on consistent, shared information deliver dollar savings to U.S. taxpayers.

We collectively are opening up data, sharing it, and working together to find additional value. At GSA, we look for ways to make government purchasing data more open, transparent, and accessible, and the Connections II dashboard is one way to do this.

The Connections II dashboard creates a single point of access for all data on Connections II task order obligations, number of awards, agency/bureau, and industry partner activity.

Users have quick and easy access to the dashboard. Search results display in easily understood lists, graphs, and charts. The real-time dashboard gives meaningful and timely program information–whether to industry or government–at any time. Users can search for specific items, sort data, and create and download custom reports.

We try to give customers and industry partners real-time data whenever they need it – at both the agency and order level so government can increase data quality and spend analysis, and make better business decisions, and so industry partners can tailor their offerings.

Other Reasons to Celebrate

GSA is just getting the big data explosion started with using and sharing our data to everyone’s benefit. GSA has several other data transparency efforts underway for the government IT acquisition community:

  • Get spend data from our GWACs Dashboard and Networx.
  • Use the Prices Paid tool for GWACs and now Wireless BPAs for aggregate pricing information. (It requires a .gov or .mil login.)
  • Prices-paid pilot programs are underway for Schedules and our satellite program.
  • GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is working on the common acquisition platform as a critical resource for federal buyers. It will contain even more tools, capabilities, and government-wide data on acquisition vehicles, intelligence, and prices paid.

If you want more information about Connections II, read about Connections II and transitioning to IPv6. We have several Statement of Work (SOW) templates you can download: IPv6 SOW to assist with IPv6 transitioning, DNSSEC SOW to help agencies with security transitioning from DNS to DNSSEC and email authentication based on the deployed DNSSEC, and a Unified Communications SOW template to help agencies combine voice, data, and video.

If you need help or information on GSA IT programs, go to our Need Help Page. Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation.

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“Easy to Find, Easy to Buy” — Envisioning the Next Step for Cloud Computing on IT Schedule 70

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 9, 2014

GSA has led efforts to create a 21st century government, including introducing cloud to federal agencies. We offer a variety of contract vehicles that help agencies streamline acquisition of cloud technologies, including IT Schedule 70, the Email as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) like Alliant and Alliant Small Business.

As the cloud marketplace is maturing, we are seeing an increased focus on IT Schedule 70 as one of the main acquisition vehicles for agencies.

IT Schedule 70 is already the largest, most widely used IT acquisition vehicle in the federal government, and we are continuously looking to improve what it offers. One area we are exploring is looking for ways to help customers find and buy cloud services.

For example, we are considering the creation of a single Special Item Number (SIN) for all cloud services that would provide clear cloud technology differentiation for customers and improve ease of access to acquire cloud services. We recently released a request for information, seeking industry input on this idea.

IT Schedule 70 already offers cloud services, and our industry partners have cloud offerings in several SINs, so why create a new SIN?

Through customer dialogue and market research, an integrated team of acquisition, technology, and program experts across the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) has identified that there would be benefits to creating a Cloud SIN to all parties involved:

  • GSA Customers – Clear differentiation of cloud services vs. non-cloud IT products and services, and empowered cloud buying through better data
  • Industry Partners – Opportunity to market distinctive solutions and offerings on IT Schedule 70
  • Internal GSA Operations – Enable more granular reporting on cloud sales to enable decision making, and help our customers buy better through data

The goal of this new SIN would be to provide clear cloud technology differentiation and ease of customer access through systems such as eBuy and GSA Advantage!.

Since SINs create logical categories of services within a Schedule, we envision the creation of a Cloud Computing Services SIN will provide a level of differentiation for customers that would more easily and clearly identify cloud services.  Additionally, GSA could establish a set of qualifying requirements that would help customers in identifying cloud services that meet acceptable standards around security, data, and other characteristics.

We are always looking for ways to make sure that doing business with us is as easy and reliable as possible. We believe that adding a Cloud Computing Services SIN would realign IT Schedule 70 cloud technology offerings to better reflect the current cloud computing market and satisfy customer needs.

The cloud market is sufficiently mature to offer differentiated and vetted cloud services through a single SIN, and this makes sense for both GSA customer agencies and industry partners. We are looking for feedback to make sure we get it right and look forward to the conversation. Read the RFI.

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