ITC Welcomes New Leadership

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 19, 2017

As we continue to improve IT Category Management to drive greater value for the federal government we are excited to add two innovative senior executives to our talented, resourceful, and committed team.

Keith Nakasone is the Deputy Assistant Commissioner (AC) for Acquisition, and Jose Arrieta is the Director of the Office of IT Schedule Contract Operations. Both Nakasone and Arrieta joined ITC Jan. 9, and bring years of experience and outstanding track records in acquisition and technology.

Keith Nakasone

Keith joins us from the Federal Communications Commission where he served as a Senior Procurement Executive, Enterprise Acquisition Center. Keith will oversee all acquisition vehicles such as IT Schedule 70, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), USAccess, our identity management program, and telecommunications contracts such as Networx and Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). These programs represent $22B in annual federal, state and local spend. Keith will also manage strategy development, internal training for the acquisition workforce, and systems support for executing ITC’s acquisitions.

Jose Arrieta

Jose comes from the Department of Treasury’s  Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), where he led the office to three consecutive “As” on the agency’s Small Business Administration report card. As the Director for the Office of IT Schedule Contract Operations, Jose will oversee Schedule 70, the largest IT acquisition vehicle in the government – a $15 billion dollar program.  Jose oversees the operation that provides leadership, guidance, and expert advice to ensure Schedule 70 continues to provide exceptional value to agencies, industry, and the taxpayer. In his new role, Jose will provide oversight  and guidance, and promote public policy objectives related to federal acquisition, including competition, integrity, fairness, and transparency, while ensuring compliance with laws, regulations, and policy.

Combined, Keith and Jose bring years of experience, leadership, innovation, and know-how in governmentwide acquisition, technology, and customer service. And with these additions, ITC will continue to provide access to best-value information technology and telecommunications products, services, and solutions to federal, state, local, and tribal government organizations. Please join me in welcoming Keith and Jose to GSA!

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GAO Denies Pre-award Protests Against Alliant

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 17, 2017

I am pleased to announce that we are continuing with the evaluation and award (planned for Fall 2017) of GSA’s $50 billion Alliant 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Our decision follows the recent decision by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to deny four companies’ protests to our new source selection methodology and the number of contractors to be awarded.

Alliant 2’s innovative evaluation methodology is characterized as  “highest technically rated, with fair and reasonable price.” It achieves best value under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 15.101 by identifying offerors with the most relevant technical expertise who propose fair and reasonable pricing.  The method was pioneered by GSA’s OASIS (One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services and further developed under the Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTS) and Alliant 2 programs.

In their decision, GAO stated that they found “…no basis in the FAR to object to a proposed source selection process that contemplates award to the highest technically rated offerors without using a tradeoff process.”

GAO further commented that FAR Section 1.102(d) permits reasonable exercise of the contracting officer’s discretion, recognizing that if a procurement strategy is in the government’s best interest, and is not explicitly prohibited, then the innovative procurement process is permissible.

GAO Decision Impact

GSA’s innovative source selection methodology on the Alliant 2 solicitation was directly challenged through several pre-award protests to GAO. However, GAO found that the methodology is valid, not objectionable, and supported by the discretion afforded contracting officers when they use the FAR. This decision affects IT acquisitions significantly.

This unprecedented decision reinforces the fact that government has the flexibility to try new and innovative source selection methodologies, among other things. As a proactive partner with federal agencies, GSA is always willing to try new ways to better serve government and improve mission delivery.

Our goal is to create comprehensive IT solutions available from the very best companies.

Ongoing Partner Engagement

We engaged both government stakeholders and industry partners from the beginning of the procurement process, and conducted extensive acquisition planning and market research to determine how to best structure the Alliant 2 GWACs. We always strive to maximize our collaboration with federal agencies and industry in order to identify the most advantageous structure for our contracts and to incorporate their ideas.

You may also remember a previous blog about Alliant 2 (including Alliant 2 Small Business) describing how much effort the team put into ensuring robust transparency, collaboration, and innovation at each phase of the process, especially during Alliant 2’s pre-solicitation phase.

These outreach efforts included:

  • Establishing an Alliant 2 Interact community with more than 8,000 members,
  • Providing a government-wide reviewed business case on OMB MAX,
  • Conducting meetings/presentations for interested agencies.
  • Coordinating agency customer and industry working groups,
  • Hosting five separate pre-proposal conferences attended by over 1000 people, and
  • Publishing 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).

I know that the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business contracts will meet the needs of federal agencies for IT services and will include a diverse set of highly qualified industry partners.

Download and read the entire GAO decision.

Read more about Alliant 2/Alliant 2 Small Business and the A2/A2SB Interact Community.

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

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Acquisition Gateway – Act as One for Smarter Acquisition

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 11, 2017

This blog post is Part II of a seven-part series reviewing the Acquisition Gateway and IT Category data, trends, expertise, and advocacy that GSA’s ITC organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.
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2016 was a landmark year for the Acquisition Gateway. To start, we reached 10,000 users, and counting! Even more important, acquisition professionals across the federal government contributed to the Gateway’s success. From sharing sample templates to participating in usability testing and design workshops, agency experts brought insight from every corner of the acquisition lifecycle. Together, we built an online workspace packed with category-specific tools, expertise, data, and content.

We’re excited to celebrate this achievement as one acquisition community, and I want to personally thank those of you who either contributed to the IT Hallway or logged in to explore. As I wrote in a previous post, the Acquisition Gateway supports category management by expanding the use of high-quality, high-value strategic sourcing solutions to improve the government’s buying power and reduce contract duplication.

Acquisition professionals visit the Gateway to:

  • Find advice, market intelligence, and acquisition sources in the IT Hallways,
  • Gather and download samples and templates in the document library,
  • Search and compare government-wide contracts in the solutions finder, and
  • Access various tools and price indexes in eBuy Open and the Prices Paid Portal.

Whatever your need, the Acquisition Gateway has all the helpful information and search tools to help you navigate the process and the universe of purchasing options.

IT Hallways

Two years ago when the Acquisition Gateway launched, IT Hardware and IT Software were two of the three category hallways that went live. Today, you can find 19 hallways aligned with the 10 common federal government nondefense spend categories.

The IT category now houses six hallways:

  • IT Hardware
  • IT Software
  • IT Security
  • IT Outsourcing
  • IT Consulting and
  • Telecommunications

The IT Hallway welcomed over 3,000 visits last year. Each visit provided an opportunity for an acquisition professional to experience a neutral, unbiased repository and community of practice. We packed content and expert advice into more than 150 articles in collaboration with acquisition experts across government. There were more than 2,800 views of IT-specific articles, covering topics from Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops Initiative to Negotiating Cloud-Based Contracts.

Document Library

The Gateway continues to evolve thanks to acquisition expert feedback and contributions. For example, what started out as a Statement of Work (SOW) library has now expanded to an ever-growing document library with 50 new document types to choose from across all phases of the acquisition process. Since its expansion this past summer, the document library has been viewed more than 3,500 times. Today, you can find 100 IT category-specific documents alone and can contribute new documents of your own directly into the library with a few simple clicks.

Solutions Finder

The solutions finder, which began as a spreadsheet covering a handful of governmentwide contracts, is now a robust search tool. It allows you to find and compare 100 IT solutions out of more than 200 governmentwide contracts, purchase agreements, and shared services. For example, a quick search for “IT Software” with the selected agency as “Navy” provides 25 governmentwide contracts to choose from. Users can filter and compare multiple contracts to include the description, solution type, fee information, expiration date, points of contact, available offerings, and prices paid information, just to name a few.

Monique Davis, a Human Resources Specialist with the Office of Personnel Management, visits the Acquisition Gateway daily. “I am currently working to place human capital project management support; I use the Gateway to research potential solutions,” she said. Davis has more than 15 years of acquisition experience and finds that the solutions finder is the feature she uses most to support her day-to-day activity. “The acquisition gateway allows me to research and compare different contracts / solutions, decreasing the amount of time I spend on market research for a particular requirement.”

eBuy Open and Prices Paid Portal

While the Acquisition Gateway has added more IT category hallways and more information articles in the document library, and has given users a more robust search tool, the Gateway also empowers agencies by giving them access to acquisition information, data, methodologies, and tools so they can make good decisions.

“Being able to access eBuy Open through the Acquisition Gateway is invaluable to me and my program. It allows me to research and analyze open, closed, and cancelled Requests for Quotes (RFQs) submitted through GSA’s eBuy system. From a review standpoint, it’s a great way to support my staff and apply checks and balances,” said Jeffrey Hale, a small business officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Acquisition and Grants Office. (Hale gathers information and resources to advise management on small business procurement policies and regulations).

Since March 2016, users visited the Prices Paid Portal more than 9,000 times. It enables agencies to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently because they show contract intelligence and spending data so agencies can make informed purchases.

Lynda Potters, a program manager for the U.S. Navy, and her team, negotiates agreements for Enterprise Software Licensing (ESL) and Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI). The Gateway allows them to identify potential cost savings and help ensure the federal government uses its purchasing power to get the best prices possible.

“With the Prices Paid Portal, we can access different views than our web sites,” Potter said. “Without it, we can only access [U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force] data. It allows us to see agency data across the federal government, which gives us a much broader picture when gathering market research or assisting customers.”

When a customer wants a particular product that isn’t Navy-specific, the Gateway allows Potters’ team to gather the information they need to find a product they can use.

“We visit the Gateway to see what types of agreements exist, where spend exists,” Potters said, and added “We have access to pricing data, but find the way the data is analyzed and displayed on the Gateway very helpful. The display features and filters make it easy to use when conducting market research.”

Next Steps

Success requires constant collaboration and a continuous process of incorporating user feedback, including customer-contributed expertise and content. Our approach means we can keep improving the site without taking it down for repairs. Among some of the anticipated changes in the next release, users can expect:

  • Expanded development options to integrate new apps
  • New tutorials for the Gateway and its tools
  • Robust document library content and expanded filtering capabilities
  • Enhanced milestone management within the project center and
  • Improved search capability in the hallways.

Learn and Earn CLPs with Acquisition Gateway U

Beginning January 23, we are hosting Acquisition Gateway U, a two-week series of webinars designed to help you get the most from Acquisition Gateway. Offered through GSA and the Federal Acquisition Institute, Gateway U is open exclusively to federal agency personnel. Also, webinar attendees can earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP) for each session fully attended.

Review the sessions being offered, and register today!

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

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Hello ITC, Goodbye ITS!

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 5, 2017

By Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology Category

This blog post is part of a seven-part series reviewing the Acquisition Gateway and IT Category data, trends, expertise, and advocacy that GSA’s ITC organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

“I thought GSA’s team was ITS. Is ITC a typo?”

No … it’s not a typo. Within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, we are now officially the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC). This isn’t just a name change from the Integrated Technology Service. We also realigned internally to better serve our customers and to align with agencies and industry partners so we deliver flexible solutions, support agency missions, and drive innovative and agile improvements through IT Category Management (CM).

Yet with any new change, there are bound to be questions. The questions I’ve heard range from simple ones like “What does the acronym ITC mean?” to “Where does ITC fit into the big picture of Category Management?”

Agency Advocacy is Priority One

We changed from ITS to ITC to better support and serve other agencies.

Our top priority is to be a mission enabler for agencies by:

  • Helping agencies find the best solutions using our technological and acquisition expertise regardless of where they reside, rather than advocating for any specific GSA contract solution. (Yes, you read this correctly. Our ITC experts will recommend a non-GSA contract if it’s the best-fit solution for an agency);
  • Working with agencies to define better requirements, reduce procurement action lead time, boost innovation, and improve data transparency;
  • Using more qualitative and quantitative data analytics, including market research, to help you make better informed decisions;
  • Supporting CM and foster best practices and shared solutions. (We can deliver better services to fellow agencies and taxpayers by making it easier to do business with our suppliers, thereby enhancing agency missions and reducing total cost of IT ownership to agencies); and
  • Continuing to work with agencies and suppliers to make emerging technology available government-wide.

New Name, New Capabilities, Maximum Impact

As mentioned earlier, we’ve realigned the organization so we can provide:

  • Acquisition subject-matter experts,
  • Category experts, and
  • Solutions support experts.

And we’ve also added new divisions within ITC to give agencies and suppliers more focused support:

  • Customer (i.e., Agency) Engagement Division,
  • Supplier Management and Compliance Division,
  • Innovation Division, and
  • Acquisition and Category Management Support Divisions.

These organizations will coordinate activities and functions, improve collaboration and innovation, and help us gain operational efficiencies. As the Assistant Commissioner for ITC, I’ve already seen positive outcomes from our technology and acquisition subject-matter experts working together to generate great value for the government and taxpayers:

  • Our Commercial Satellite Communications program is in partnership with the Department of Defense to help civilian and defense agencies support our nation’s military men and women in uniform, as well as humanitarian relief, disaster-response, counter-terrorism efforts, and more.
  • We developed Health IT expertise to better partner with the Defense Health Agency, so they could have access to innovative and emerging health IT services (The SIN was recently awarded to 65 highly qualified industry partners).
  • Our software expertise has produced better agreements with vendors to provide geospatial services, Salesforce-related services, and security and electronic signature solutions…all while saving time and money.

ITC Role in Government-Wide Category Management

I’ve also been asked where ITC fits into the big picture of CM and if ITC is the same thing as the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) government-wide Category Management initiative.

In early 2015, OMB announced the government-wide CM initiative with goals to increase savings, reduce the number of new contracts, and increase spending under government-wide management. Soon after this announcement, OMB created the Category Management Leadership Council, which approved dividing the federal marketplace into 10 super categories (PDF).

Our realignment into ITC directly supports the IT category, which gives us purview over the IT marketplace. As well as being the ITC Assistant Commissioner, I also serve as the government-wide Category Manager for IT. My position, coupled with ITC’s great team, enables us to drive change in IT procurement across the government.

A Closer Look at IT Subcategories

With ITC’s expanded focus, 2017 is the perfect time to update you on what’s going on with the Acquisition Gateway and the IT Category. Our next blog post will focus on the Acquisition Gateway updates. Then, in the coming weeks, we’ll post more blogs in this space to look back at IT category insights over the past year and what’s ahead for each of the following IT subcategories:

  • IT Hardware,
  • IT Security,
  • IT Services,
  • IT Software, and
  • Telecommunications (Telecom).

Together these subcategories and their IT solutions emphasize what we can do as a nation to deliver many critical services to the American people. These include using satellite systems to enhance weather alerts…strengthening counter-terrorism and global security efforts…and leveraging geospatial software for USDA to increase crop yields and helping CDC to track down Zika outbreaks.

Select Get email updates when this page changes and choose “Great Government Through Technology” to sign up to receive email alerts when we publish new blog posts.

Please follow ITC on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT. Visit the IT Hallways on the Acquisition Gateway for more information on the IT category and subcategories.

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