IT Hardware: Delivering Cost Savings through Desktops & Laptops

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 28, 2017

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.

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Paul Morris, IT Hardware Subcategory Manager for ITC in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). He oversees the management of GSA’s IT Hardware solutions, Client and Supply Management, and Market Analysis, and publishes relevant content within the IT Hardware’s Category Hallway in GSA’s Acquisition Gateway.)

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, GSA implemented and delivered contract vehicles and easy-to-use solutions that resulted in significant savings for government agencies. One major initiative that is already leveraging the federal government’s buying power, collaborating with other federal agencies and industry, and creating acquisition efficiency is the Government-wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops program.

The GSS program is co-led by HHS/NIH, NASA, and GSA with heavy involvement from the Army CHESS program.  GSA’s IT Schedule 70 contractors offer the GSS standard configurations for desktop and laptop computers that provide government agencies lower pricing, standard terms and conditions, access to spend and pricing data, and best- in-class solutions. These standard configurations were developed by the GSS team after evaluating governmentwide spend data for laptops and desktops, and working with more than 20 agencies to understand what was being purchased and what the agencies’ needs were.

GSS for Desktops & Laptops Sees Growth

Current spend indicates that desktops and laptops account for approximately 10 percent of the total $12 billion in annual government IT hardware. When GSA’s GSS Desktop and Laptop program first launched in October 2015, we were encouraged by the initial success. Based on FY 2017 end-of-first quarter data, we are seeing purchasing increase through the GSS Desktop and Laptop IT Schedule 70 program, as well as across NIH’s Chief Information Officer-IT Commodities and Solutions (NIH CIO-CS) governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (NASA SEWP).

Moreover, across GSA’s IT Schedule 70, NIH’s CIO-CS GWAC, and NASA’s SEWP, we have seen an increase in usage to date, when compared to the same period during FY 2016 (an increase from $270,000 to nearly $5 million in GSS purchases alone). We expect strong growth throughout the remaining three quarters in FY 2017, well over 2016’s approximate spend of $16 million.

Likewise, in the previous fourth quarter of FY 2016, GSA and NASA government-wide buying events resulted in discounts of 15 percent to 23 percent from standard contract pricing (depending on the GSS system purchased), an average savings of 19 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum was one agency that benefitted from the government-wide buying event. Since we provided the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with cost estimates of need upfront, they were able to procure an additional 55 computers because of the savings.

Looking Ahead in IT Hardware

We are taking lessons learned and making continual improvements to our hardware offering.  We are working with the GSS team and will be upgrading the standard configurations, exploring options for expanding the offerings, and planning our FY17 buying event.

Here’s a look ahead for the IT Hardware Subcategory:

  • We’re improving GSA eTools — This year, all GSS Desktops and Laptops in GSA Advantage!® will be easy to find and will have a consistent look and feel for configuration and pricing information.
  • We’re incorporating FY 2016 lessons learned into our planning for FY 2017 GSS Buying Events — We are changing the equipment configuration and features, and communicating early that we intend to host a fourth quarter GSS buying event.
  • We’re supporting the IT Security Subcategory’s Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) Provenance pilot — By improving existing SCRM into our solutions, we can reduce agency risk and increase buyer confidence. We’ll work with our customers and vendors to assess the use of SCRM controls in the desktop and laptop purchase experience.

We are excited about the solutions in place under GSS Desktops and Laptops, and the potential to save federal agencies time and money.

To learn more about the IT Hardware Category program, contracts, hardware configurations, or to share your thoughts on the program, reach out to the GSA IT Hardware Subcategory Manager, or browse the Acquisition Gateway’s IT Hardware Subcategory Hallway.

We also offer several ways to purchase IT hardware:

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

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IT Software: Cost Savings in Enterprise Licenses Agreements, Strategic IT Resourcing

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 27, 2017

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 ​Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

(Note: This is a guest blog post by John Radziszewski, Director, Office of IT Products within ITC in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). In this capacity, he oversees GSA’s IT Hardware and Software Subcategories.

GSA’s IT Software Subcategory team is implementing government-wide strategies and initiatives that will reduce costly duplication of enterprise software agreements, improve pricing, and better leverage the government’s buying power. This is being accomplished by enhancing current IT Schedule 70 contracts such as: Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (Esri) geospatial software, Carahsoft’s Adobe’s data-centric security and electronic signature solutions, and Carahsoft’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) software. These enhancements give government users what they need, when they need it, and at the lowest cost.

The federal government spends at least $6 billion annually on commercial software through more than 50,000 individual contracting actions — not an optimal way to buy. This way of procuring commercial software licenses usually results in duplicate IT investments across agencies, causing disjointed pricing indexes, terms, and conditions, and increasing the complexity of licenses management.

To tackle this issue, the Enterprise Software Category Team (ESCT) is enhancing new Enterprise Licenses Agreements (ELAs) to reduce duplication of enterprise software agreements, improve pricing, and better leverage the government’s buying power.

Leveraging Government’s Buying Power through ELAs

Through smart government-wide mandates, GSA is currently enhancing ELAs on IT Schedule 70 to better meet government needs, while at the same time reducing duplication of enterprise software licenses, improving cost savings, and optimizing the government’s procurement capabilities. This allows agencies to redirect funding to other mission priorities.

In January 2016, we’ve already enhanced the following government-wide enterprise software license agreements:

GSA‑​Carahsoft’s HPE — The enhanced software agreement with Carahsoft for HPE IT management solutions could result in discounts of up to 39 percent over commercial pricing for government agencies and a potential savings up $50 million over five years for taxpayers.

GSA‑Carahsoft’s Adobe — Again working with Carahsoft, on their Adobe’s data-centric security and electronic signature solutions, it will result in potential savings of $350 million.

GSA‑Esri geospatial software — We agreed to modify Esri’s IT Schedule 70 terms and conditions for geospatial software ELAs. It will result to at least an additional 3% in savings for agencies.

Today, agencies with existing Carahsoft’s HPE/Adobe and Esri software can now take advantage of immediate savings by switching to these ELAs by processing a simple modification. Agencies who make the switch can receive additional savings on ELA prices.

A Look Ahead: Software License Management Service (SLMS)

Working with several agencies, GSA developed a Software License Management Service (SLMS) that can generate significant cost savings by:

  • cutting unnecessary software license spending,
  • implementing controls on the software license management lifecycle, and
  • improving an agency’s cybersecurity posture by tracking and monitoring vulnerabilities.

SLMS uses subject-matter experts to engage agencies with one goal in mind: saving the government (and taxpayers!) money on software licensing. The program is the foundation for successfully managing software. It employs a phased approach to assess agency maturity relevant to IT Asset Management (ITAM), while establishing plans for implementing improvements.

To date, GSA has successfully launched SLMS pilots at three agencies:

  • For GSA, our focus has been on deploying a cutting-edge software asset management toolset, targeting a quick ‘Return On Investment’ on software buys. This is achieved by capturing, controlling, and evaluating GSA’s current software inventory and procurement data, and finding areas for demand management.
  • At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the SLMS team is conducting a current-state gap analysis based on an ITAM maturity model. The outcomes will be a detailed analysis of program performance and a future roadmap for organizational maturity.
  • For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), we helped develop a full suite of ITAM governance, processes, procedures, and policies.

We are ready to expand the pilot to other agencies as well. If your agency is interested in an approach to software asset management, please contact our team (SLMS@gsa.gov). We are here to help you capture real cost savings, enhance cybersecurity, and comply with federal mandates.

To learn more and to access best practices and contract information, please visit the Software Hallway on the Acquisition Gateway.

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

Other News!

2017 Category Management Conference

The American Council for Technology (ACT) and Industry Advisory Council (IAC), and GSA are co-sponsoring an event on Category Management and the Acquisition Gateway. The robust speaker list includes leadership from the the IT Category, the Gateway team, industry, and others! Get more information on the 2017 Category Management Conference.

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Working Hard to Improve Security, Safety, and Quality of Life for Americans

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 9, 2017

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 ​Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Telecommunications Services. Gavino is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements.)

ITC’s Office of Telecommunications Services provides a wide variety of offerings to federal, state and local governments which includes voice, video, data, managed network services, call center services, mobile and wireless, satellite services, last mile connections and much more. Because of our partnership with industry and our robust solution sets, we are able to provide government agencies seamless access and support, thus achieving shared value and expanding the benefits of modern technology. We’re continually transforming and enabling improvement to the security, safety, and quality of life for our nation and its citizens.

We enhance security by providing the communications services that connect law enforcement resources with information locally and worldwide to counter crime and terrorism. We also support the safety of our men and women in uniform, humanitarian relief, disaster-response, and counterterrorism efforts through satellites. And the telecommunications service we provide also improves government’s ability to respond  anywhere and anytime through mobile devices (i.e., tablets and wireless smartphones); enhances patient health care for veterans and aging population; supports farmers and ranchers; tracks wildlife and diseases; and ensures food safety and inspections.

A Look Back at 2016

We’re always trying to improve, and here are a few ways:

Simplifying, Standardizing, and Buying in Volume

The Category Management (CM) approach to simplify, standardize, and make use of volume to streamline enterprise-wide telecom is the focus of Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). CM helps us adapt our solutions as the industry changes and as agency needs change. For example, we’re being less local and more global to ensure agencies adopt security and unified communication technologies that comply with best practices.

Managing Telecom as a Subcategory

We are managing Telecom and all of our offerings in IT as a comprehensive portfolio and have technical, functional and acquisition experts to help agencies buy in a more efficient way and improve mission delivery.

Engaging Agencies and Industry

In 2016, GSA continued to engage agency and industry partners to shape the upcoming EIS, which will replace Networx and local and regional telecom services. We formed the EIS Infrastructure Advisory Group (IAG) to define priorities share best practices, plan for transition and ensure the final EIS solution meets government’s needs.

Optimizing Telecom Use and Spend

Because of our strong partnerships with agencies, GSA’s telecommunications program is recognized as “the government’s telecommunications program,” and as a result, we are able to aggregate and leverage more than $2 billion in annual spend and document over $675 million in savings.

Providing a Range of Purchasing Options

We recognize that ease of use is critical for our agency customers so we offer a range of purchasing solutions across our IT and telecommunications contracts — everything from self service through delegated procurement authority … to monitoring contract service level agreement achievement … to providing advice and consulting to providing fully assisted services.

Enhancing Agencies’ Understanding of Telecom Purchases

Telecom has been managed as a category for a while. Because of standard service definitions and contract terms in contracts like Networx, agencies can make “apples to apples” comparisons around services. This makes it easier for GSA and other agencies to make comparisons between suppliers and to get the best value for their purchases. And, because of the data we collect on purchasing, GSA can clearly see purchasing trends which shape future contracts (e.g., EIS, etc.) and our discussions with agencies and suppliers. We continually refine this data driven approach to supplier management to get better value for agencies and taxpayers.

Here is what we have seen over the past 10 years. Demand for bandwidth has increased at a compound annual growth rate that exceeds 30 percent, but our normalized costs for the bandwidth has decreased. Part of this is simply an industry phenomenon. Bandwidth is getting cheaper; however, part of this is due to our data driven approach to our interactions with suppliers. We expect bandwidth to be “cheaper by the dozen” and we have an approach to ensure this is the case. Further, most agencies are modernizing their networks through increased bandwidth demand, especially via Ethernet services. For instance, enterprise network services are migrating towards 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet; our Networx extensions focused on this migration and Ethernet is an EIS required service.

The increased demand for these services drove purchasing up 10 percent on Networx in 2016, which further lowers telecom costs, especially for Ethernet services. The availability, performance, and price of Ethernet services will remain important for years to come. In 2017 and beyond, EIS is on target to continue lowering costs for government.

2017 Telecom Priorities

Our biggest priority in 2017 is to continue to collaborate across government and industry, and begin the transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Challenge Government-wide

GSA and agency partners are preparing for the EIS awards so transition can begin and be completed by 2020. All agencies using Networx were required to submit Agency Transition Plans, which were due in fall 2016. We are excited to continue to work with industry and agency partners to take advantage of new solutions and new technology.

Mobility Savings and Enhanced Management

Mobile services are also in the spotlight in 2017. Five wireless service plans — three data and two voice plans — represent more than 90 percent of federal government’s purchases of mobile services. Standardized buying forces competition to focus on price and quality since many features and requirements are the same (Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative-Wireless (FSSI-W) customers paid 26%  less in 2016 than in 2012 because of this simple standardized strategy). In 2017, the government-wide Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) will drive further savings as FSSI-W growth continues and the MSCT defines the next-generation mobility program.

Demands for Bandwidth, Security, and Satellites

Bandwidth demands and security capabilities will continue to grow in 2017, and we’ll also launch a new Commercial Satellite Custom Commercial SATCOM Solutions (CS3) contract.

In all these areas, we partner with agencies to find the best telecom infrastructure solutions to meet mission needs.

Learn More about Telecom Solutions

To find out more about available tools, best practices, and telecom solutions, select Telecommunications and Network Services on GSA’s website and visit the Telecommunications Hallway on the Acquisition Gateway.

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

 

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IT Security: Increasing and Enhancing Government-Wide Solutions To Address Cybersecurity Needs

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 2, 2017

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 Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

(Note: This blog is authored by Shon Lyublanovits, IT Security Subcategory Manager and Director of the Security Services Division for ITC, in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. In this capacity, she oversees activities and challenges of infusing Ccbersecurity into contract acquisitions.)

In October 2016, we announced that we were able to complete the first phase of the oral technical evaluations and expedite the modification/award processes to get 15 vendors on the new IT Schedule 70’s “Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services (HACS)” Special Item Numbers (SINs).

I am happy to report that we have launched the four new HACS SINs that feature high-quality cybersecurity vendors offering federal, state, and local governments the following services:

  • 132-45A: Penetration Testing – security testing in which assessors mimic real-world attacks to identify methods for circumventing the security features of an application, system, or network.
  • 132-45B: Incident Response – services help organizations impacted by a cybersecurity compromise determine the extent of the incident, remove the adversary from their systems, and restore their networks to a more secure state.
  • 132-45C: Cyber Hunt – responds to crisis or urgent situations within the pertinent domain to mitigate immediate and potential threats. Cyber Hunt activities start with the premise that threat actors known to target some organizations in a specific industry, or specific systems, are likely to also target other organizations in the same industry or with the same systems.
  • 132-45D: Risk and Vulnerability Assessment – conduct assessments of threats and vulnerabilities; determines deviations from acceptable configurations, enterprise, or local policy; assesses the level of risk; and develops and/or recommends appropriate mitigation countermeasures in operational and non-operational situations.

While the HACS SINs will allow agencies quicker and more reliable access to key pre-vetted support services that will expand agencies’ capacity to test their high-priority IT systems, rapidly address potential vulnerabilities, and stop adversaries before they impact our networks, we will continually look for more options to enhance these services and integrate with the national security community to ensure we have top-notch expertise in cybersecurity.

Ongoing Enhancement to HACS SINs

When we established the SINs in September 2016, we focused on providing the necessary tools to strengthen government agencies’ network and digital defenses against cyber attacks. Likewise, we’ll continue to evaluate and add more vendors to make these offerings even more robust. Altogether, we have evaluated and added 34 vendors to these SINs.

And eventually, all current IT Schedule 70 vendors that offer cybersecurity services will be required to migrate to the new HACS SINs. This, of course, will also provide a way for our industry partners to more easily differentiate these specific cybersecurity services from other IT offerings.

Strength through Inter-Agency Partnerships

We realize that in order to maximize success to guard against cyber attacks, we must create trusted partnerships with the national security community to ensure the rapid delivery of emerging technology to meet government cybersecurity needs.

  • First, we have increased communications and collaboration with Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and the intelligence community (e.g., National Security Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, etc.), in order to better structure, develop, and implement cybersecurity-related policy and guidance.
  • Second, we continually provide information regarding cybersecurity and feedback through the IT Security Hallway on Acquisition Gateway, and on other web-based platforms – both secure and open domain.
  • Lastly, on an ongoing basis, we proactively engage government agencies and industry partners to expand the utilization of the new HACS SINs.

For more information, please contact the following:

We look forward to hearing from you!

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

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