GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Training Conference: Register to Attend or Exhibit

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on January 21, 2020

Attend the most comprehensive federally sponsored training event for acquisition professionals – FAST 2020.

The GSA-hosted Federal Acquisition Service Training (FAST) Conference 2020 is a multi-day, national training conference for the federal acquisition workforce, industry partners, and customer agencies. FAST 2020 will be in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center. GSA is offering comprehensive training led by renowned procurement experts free of charge to all federal acquisition professionals.

FAST 2020 will also offer industry the opportunity to network with large and small businesses within the same industry and develop teaming arrangements to win future business. Agency partners will be able to conduct market research with industry partners on-site!

Attend the FAST 2020 Training Conference to help you better meet your agency mission. Network with fellow acquisition professionals and learn from them. Earn up to 20 CLP credits, collaborate with your peers, and see the latest industry solutions in the exhibit hall. ITC is offering over 30 thought-provoking classes so you can learn IT procurement from every angle.

Upcoming training tracks:

  • Advanced Techniques in Acquisition
  • Being Brilliant at the Basics for Feds
  • Being Brilliant at the Basics for Industry Partners
  • IT Modernization Emerging Technologies and Innovation
  • Leveraging the Power of the Internet eTools
  • What’s Next in Acquisition

Add FAST 2020 to your Individual Development Plans (IDPs) to begin the travel and conference participation approval process within your agency. To help you, we’ve created a sample justification letter [doc] to attend the FAST conference.

Register Now! for the FAST 2020 conference in Atlanta, Ga., April 14-16. I hope to see you there!

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

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Attend GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Training Conference

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on December 3, 2019

We pride ourselves on the close relationships that we’ve built with industry. These partnerships enable us to help agencies across the government achieve mission success.

Industry’s solutions and expertise are critical in helping government fuel IT modernization and transformation.

These close relationships don’t come easily, though. Both GSA and industry have to put in the time and effort to get to know each other. This helps us better understand industry’s latest solutions — enabling us to better represent them to the agencies who need them.

That’s why GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is holding FAST 2020. FAST 2020 will bring together thousands of experts — both government and industry — in one place, allowing unparalleled collaboration. We encourage our industry partners to register today!

Why You Should Attend

Participating industry partners will be able to:

  • Benefit from accessing the most comprehensive federally sponsored training event for contract management, procurement, and acquisition professionals in the nation.
  • Directly engage with 3,000+ federal contracting professionals as well as senior policy and program leaders under one roof, saving travel and time away.
  • Master the latest government e-tools and processes, and learn from the experts.
  • Meet face-to-face with master contracting officers.
  • Network with large and small businesses in similar industries and develop teaming arrangements to win future business.
  • Showcase company offerings, live, on the show floor.
  • Gather more and better market intelligence to advance your company’s competitive advantage.

Small businesses will benefit in additional ways:

  • Meet multiple contracting officers in one setting.
  • Save money: participating in one large event is more efficient than many smaller events.

Two Ways to Participate

Industry can participate in FAST 2020 in two main ways:

Participant – Industry has an entire dedicated training track. We are planning other activities (such as industry matchmaking sessions) to benefit and strengthen our industry partner relationships. Find detailed information about Industry-focused training sessions under the Training Sessions tab on our conference registration site.

Industry Exhibitor – The FAST 2020 Exhibit Show Floor is 270,000 square feet and will be organized into 10 Category Communities.

As GSA, we’ve set aside two huge spaces (50 ft x 50 ft) for us:

  • We’ll use the first as our main GSA booth, where we’ll host a small training theater, with kiosks dedicated to each of the 10 federal categories.
  • We’ll use the second space to host our GSA e-lab, where conference participants can get hands-on experience with our suite of e-tools!

Industry exhibit space sales will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up now to exhibit at FAST 2020.

Join Us

FAST 2020 is going to be big. It’s our first conference since 2011 in San Diego. I hope that you’ll join me in Atlanta, GA, April 14-16.

I look forward to meeting those of you I haven’t yet met and catching up with old friends.

To learn more about FAST 2020 visit www.gsa.gov/FAST.

Register here today!

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

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Think IT Modernization? Think GSA

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on October 29, 2018

Our mission in the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) is to “maximize customer value and mission productivity through IT acquisition.” As the largest provider of IT acquisition solutions for government, it is absolutely critical that we ride the bleeding edge of IT innovation. As a service to agencies and taxpayers, we adopt innovative solutions early on and apply them to our own processes — we learn about new technologies by using them. Efforts like this position us to even more effectively help agencies face their future mission needs.

In a blog post last December, we announced our experimentation with distributed ledger technology (DLT) — commonly referred to as “blockchain.” At the time we had just completed a proof of concept to further enhance our Making it Easier FASt Lane proposal review process. We found that DLT can automate many of the manual business processes and steps required to award a new IT Schedule 70 contract. This includes time-intensive tasks such as financial reviews and development of pre-negotiation memoranda, freeing up our workforce to focus on more meaningful responsibilities. DLT also modernizes the award process making it easier, more efficient, and faster for those new contract holders.

IT modernization is a major focus of this administration. Our work with DLT is an excellent example of leveraging emerging technologies to enhance existing systems — to reimagine how we build using an agile methodology to effectively modernize over time. The crawl/walk/run method that we’re using to implement DLT highlights one best-practice path to modernization.

First, We Crawled – What We Did

In July 2017, we kicked off the proof of concept (POC) as an award under the simplified acquisition threshold. This acquisition strategy used an agile acquisition and development approach and had a short, six-week delivery schedule. The entire POC only cost $150,000.

Now We Walk – Development

The POC demonstrated how we could use DLT to help automate our acquisition workforce, specifically touching and entering data only once into a single solution.

To expand the project’s scope, this May we awarded a contract for a pilot. Where the POC tested the waters limited to IT Schedule 70, the pilot has a wider scope: the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program (aka the Schedules). We plan to look across the entire enterprise to find out where we’ll gain the most benefits within the Schedules program.

The pilot will create a DLT-based software layer over GSA’s existing infrastructure which creates transparency and documents activities between industry partners (contractors/vendors) and GSA.

This layer will make the proposal review process accountable and allow for a controlled reduction in fixed costs. Also, the pilot automates financial reviews and other GSA Schedules business processes.

For example, we can identify offerors with substandard financial ratios based on the average (as reported by the IRS) of their respective NAICs code. Offerors with poor financial ratios will be flagged for further review; if the ratios look good they will move to the next step.

This first pilot will break down and modularize the workstream and build out a micro-service for the financial responsibility process. Implementing a manageable business process, this will enable us to more simply capture information and to build analytics.

Next, We’ll Run – Production/Sustainment

If the pilot is successful, we’ll continue its development and our efforts to make this a reality by awarding another contract for a full-scale production.

Think IT Modernization? Think GSA

Our team has the expertise and agility to try new things and test new IT solutions. We launch, test, learn, and then use those lessons learned to support our customers.

So, when you think about modernizing your IT systems, think GSA! We have the experts and acquisition solutions in place to make IT modernization a reality for the federal government.

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

The five steps to accelerate the process to award contracts and make life better for the workforce and vendors.

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Better Process, Price through Government-wide Strategic Solution (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops Program

Posted by Kay Ely
on September 11, 2018

We pride ourselves on providing federal agencies with IT solutions at the best value through an efficient buying experience.

To further improve the buying experience, the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for desktops and laptops program formed a partnership among procurement teams from agencies across government. Working closely with our industry partners, the GSS team negotiated better terms and conditions, more consistent pricing, and a streamlined buying process for federal, state, and local governments.

The government depends on desktops and laptops every day to accomplish its mission. More than $1 billion is spent annually on this critical IT hardware. Most of this $1 billion is spent on similar desktop and laptop configurations from the same original equipment manufacturers, but spread across thousands of different contracts.

The Workstation Category Team, established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), worked closely with agency and industry stakeholders to create GSS standard configurations. They’re designed to meet 80 percent of the government’s desktop and laptop requirements, helping the government aggregate demand and use its consolidated buying power.

How’d we do it?

The category team worked to ensure participating contractors offer the full breadth of GSS-compliant desktops, laptops, options, and accessories through their IT Schedule 70 contracts. Also, GSA Advantage catalogs for GSS desktops and laptops were fully overhauled to clearly show compliant machines, with full descriptions and a menu-driven option and accessory configurator.

To make buying these products quick and easy, IT Schedule 70 awarded three multi-agency (government-wide) single-award Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) to support OMB’s GSS Desktop and Laptop category management strategy.

These BPAs are recompeted annually to ensure the latest technology is available in a GSS-compliant configuration, at the most competitive prices in government.

These three BPAs are available via the GSA AdvantageSelect buying platform.

Better Buying for the Future

GSS program use has increased nearly 700 percent over the last two fiscal years. At the same time, use of our AdvantageSelect GSS BPA has increased by 400 percent from FY17.

The discounts realized through the competitive process encouraged this growth. Agencies executing large-quantity purchases through GSA’s GSS Program in FY18 have realized discounts of up to 40 percent off GSA contract ceiling prices.

To make sure everyone hears about this, GSA’s IT Hardware Category Management team hosts regular training sessions that tell agencies how to maximize savings and buying power for obtaining GSS-compliant desktop and laptop computers, as well as options, accessories, and peripherals at competitive prices.

These webinars make it easier for agencies to benefit from this outstanding program; learning more about simple purchasing options is especially important to government buyers as we near the end of a fiscal year. To learn more about the configurations and contracts and to make your purchase, see GSA Advantage or the Acquisition Gateway.

For GSA GSS Desktop/Laptop help, please visit our webpage or contact workstations@gsa.gov

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

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Recent Successes Inspire Our Way Forward

Posted by Kay Ely
on December 28, 2017

By Kay Ely, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology Category

As the end of the year approaches, I’m full of pride looking back on the accomplishments of the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) in 2017.

Our team has achieved best-in-class (BIC) designations on a number of important contract vehicles and we’re continuing to work towards BIC on others. We launched — or are on the verge of launching — a number of significant contract vehicles, including Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), Alliant 2, Alliant 2 Small Business, and Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2). We further advanced our offerings for cybersecurity, geospatial, wireless solutions, and many others.

Each of these efforts will help our customers accomplish their missions with greater efficiency and lower costs in 2018.

Since taking the reins of ITC, I’ve challenged the team to follow three guiding principles:

  • Achieve breakthrough performance
  • Be a catalyst for customer mission success
  • Shape government-wide IT acquisition

As we wrap up 2017, I’d like to share just a few stories of how ITC has done this, working with agencies and our industry partners.

Using Innovative Solutions to Achieve Breakthrough Performance

We recently completed our proof of concept to use Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to further enhance the Making it Easier FASt Lane proposal review process. DLT will allow us to automate many of the manual business processes and steps required to award a new IT Schedule 70 contract. Including time-intensive things like financial reviews and developing the pre-negotiation memoranda.

Using innovative technologies such as DLT will have a major impact on making it easier to do business with GSA. It will make the award process more efficient for new contract holders by not only reducing the award timeline but also decreasing industry’s burden. Additionally, we expect this to significantly lower the direct cost to award a contract. This is just one example of our breakthrough performance over the last year.

Helping Agencies Achieve their Missions

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) supported hurricane relief efforts. To achieve their mission, the team needed 1,000 laptops — and they needed them fast.

GSA’s IT hardware team quickly connected with the SBA to help. Our BIC Government-wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) Laptop/Desktop program, that offers pre-negotiated standard pricing for laptop configurations, was just what SBA needed. They placed the order for laptops in less than one week.

It resulted in a reduced delivery time of approximately two weeks and saved the SBA nearly $75,000. The order was awarded to an 8(a) small, women-owned business under IT Schedule 70.

SBA was so pleased with GSA’s price, performance, and quality of goods, they issued follow on orders for an additional 1,500 laptops and 2,140 monitors.

Shaping Government-wide IT Acquisition Everyday

The IT world is always changing, with advances in technology, shifting buying patterns and delivery methods, and a growing competitive landscape.  We strive everyday to improve how government buys IT.

In 2017, we made great progress with implementing category management. This has changed the way we operate and has helped us to better meet market demands, improve our operations, and enhance our customer solutions.

Everywhere you look in ITC you’ll see innovations in acquisition. We’ve baked in the ability to rapidly onboard new technologies into new contracts from the beginning. Startups are finding it easier than ever to deliver innovative solutions thanks to our Startup Springboard program.  And, our work to provide constructive input into the IT modernization process will help usher in a new era of modern government.

Paving the Way Forward

We’re leading the way in helping the government buy IT smarter. 2017 was an incredible year, marked by a number of important milestones — 2018 is looking just as promising.

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

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OMB: GSA Tech Solutions Are “Best in Class,” Driving Smarter Government Buying

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 17, 2017

(Editorial note: This blog is written by Kay Ely, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology Category)

For more than six decades, GSA has led the way in developing government-wide acquisition solutions, leveraging the power of government’s economies of scale and driving efficiencies across federal, state, local, and tribal governments.

We’re extremely proud that our Governmentwide Strategic Solution (GSS) Laptop/Desktop, along with Hardware and Software for IT Schedule 70, have been designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as “Best-in-Class” (BIC) – part of the first group that OMB recognized in the IT Category.

BIC designations signal to the acquisition community that these solutions meet rigorous category management performance criteria and confirm that we offer the necessary solutions and processes to meet government’s current and future IT requirements. Great news…but we’re only getting started. What’s next?

Buying Smarter

These newly BIC-designated IT contracts represent preferred government-wide purchasing solutions and provide a unique opportunity to leverage the government’s buying power. The BIC designation allows acquisition experts to take advantage of pre-vetted, government-wide contract solutions and supports a government-wide migration to solutions that are mature and market-proven. They also help optimize spend within the government-wide category management framework and increase the transactional data available for agency level and government-wide analysis of buying behavior.

BIC designations are just the latest of several initiatives around customer-centric tools, templates, and best practices that government-wide category management is using to enable government IT to:

  • Improve requirements development, procurement and management
  • Partner strategically with industry
  • Reduce contract duplication
  • Foster cross-agency collaboration

Next Steps

But we’re not resting. We will continue to aim high and strive for higher quality and efficiency in order to provide value to government agencies. We will constantly review and improve our IT acquisition vehicles to maximize value for agencies’ mission requirements. And, we plan to offer other IT solutions for BIC designation review.

We believe a BIC designation is not the end state, but rather an important milestone on a journey to help agencies improve their buying strategies.

Another way we’re making it easier for government to buy smarter: we’ve updated the Acquisition Gateway and GSA.gov pages below to display the BIC designations

See which contracts are raising the bar:

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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Government-wide Desktops and Laptops, Smarter Buying

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 26, 2016

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.

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Moving Toward a Better Marketplace for Desktop and Laptop Procurement

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 9, 2016

Recently, I talked about how important it is to keep up with the latest technology trends and changes taking place across government for purchasing IT products and services. ITS continually strives to streamline procurement processes and maximize federal spending to achieve better acquisition and operational efficiencies for government agencies while at the same time acting as effective stewards of taxpayer dollars.

One great example of how we’ve been able to do just that for IT hardware products is the Government-wide Strategic Solution (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops. This particular project focused on key areas of importance to me: leveraging the buying power of the federal government, collaborating with other federal agencies and industry, and creating acquisition efficiency.

Leveraging Our Buying Power

First, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recognized an opportunity for the government to improve how we buy IT hardware and issued a memo on October 16, 2015 mandating that all civilian agencies use three existing “Best in Class” vehicles to fulfill most of their laptop and desktop needs. OMB stated that cross-agency collaboration and industry feedback were the keys to taking full advantage of the government’s buying power in this space.

Inter-Agency Collaboration

Second, based on the need for increased collaboration and integration between services, OMB created the Workstations Commodity Team (WCT), now known as the Workstation Category Team (WCT). The WCT comprises IT and procurement professionals from NASA, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The group spent over two years working with our industry partners and a consortium of over 20 federal agencies to develop a framework and strategy for solving some of the issues, like limited transparency and terms and conditions that were not common, that the government was facing in the IT hardware space.

As a result of the great cross-agency collaboration and in consultation with OMB, the Government-wide Strategic Solution (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops was developed. On February 2, 2016, GSA, NASA, and NIH hosted an industry day. We used this forum to share the updated specifications with industry and to seek their input for moving forward with the first technical refresh under the effort.

Efficiency

Lastly, the GSS currently gives agencies a choice of three desktop and three laptop configurations that meet the federal government’s requirements for more than 80 percent of systems purchased.

In addition to the six standard configurations, GSS for Desktops and Laptops has pre-negotiated policies and terms and conditions, and includes significant small business participation–over 85 percent, ensuring that agencies save time and meet socioeconomic goals.

A significant feature of the GSS for Desktops and Laptops is the continued focus on keeping up with fast-paced technology change. The program incorporates a technical refresh schedule every nine months, so specifications  reflect feedback from customer agencies and industry, aligning available configurations to market conditions and available technology.

Current configurations are now available for purchase on all three contracts. You can access the configurations on GSA Advantage and see all three contracts on the Acquisition Gateway.

By using existing best-in-class contract vehicles, streamlining procurement processes, and maximizing federal spend, we not only achieve better acquisition and operational efficiencies but also act as one and as effective stewards of taxpayer dollars.

The Challenge

Just to give you some perspective on how significant this particular initiative is, in fiscal year 2014 alone, federal agencies awarded more than 10,000 individual contracts and delivery orders for desktops and laptops, totaling approximately $1.1 billion. These products’ prices varied by almost 300 percent. If agencies requested different configurations, the prices went up even more.

Next Steps

On June 1, 2016, OMB released a GSS Desktop/Laptop buying event announcement to the CIO/CAO communities to increase awareness and encourage agency participation in the GSS initiative. GSA, NASA, and NIH will each  conduct buying events for laptops and desktops between June and September 2016. The planned buying events are in support of OMB Memo M-16-02, Improving Demand Management Practices (Aggregate demand to support leveraged buying events).

Accordingly, GSA IT Schedule 70 will conduct its first buying event during 4th Quarter 2016. GSA will request federal agencies to provide estimated quantities by June 17, 2016, in order to obtain maximum volume discounts, which will  streamline agency buying and drive down costs.

GSA’s acquisition will be conducted through the GSA Reverse Auction Platform based on estimated agency requirements, resulting in awards for manufacturer-specific, single-award government-wide Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for each of the six GSS standard-configurations to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) authorized resellers. These BPAs will be made accessible via the GSA AdvantageSelect platform, which allows agencies to purchase online without further competition.

ITS will continue to add new industry partners that offer the standard configurations and encourage small business participation. You can also use the GSA Advantage GSS icon GSS icon to identify products meeting the minimum specification on GSA Advantage.

To learn more about the program and how to order, visit the GSS for Desktops and Laptops webpage.
Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

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