8(a) STARS III GWAC Phased Awards Will Support Maximum Opportunities for 8(a) Businesses

Posted by Laura Stanton
on May 5, 2021

GSA takes its commitment to the small business community very seriously, and we’re excited about the progress we’re making toward the award of the 8(a) STARS III Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

We’re happy to announce that we intend to move forward with phased awards to different cohorts as outlined in the solicitation. Over the last week, GSA notified STARS III offerors of their inclusion in the competitive range. Awards to an initial cohort are planned for June 2021 with awards to another cohort planned later in the calendar year after discussions.

In the spirit of the 8(a) program, GSA is pleased to hold discussions which will afford firms an opportunity to revise their offers in order to qualify for an award.

As GSA’s fourth-generation 8(a) GWAC, STARS III is a multiple-award indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (MA-ID/IQ) contract designed to provide federal agencies with innovative IT services-based solutions from vetted 8(a) small disadvantaged businesses, in support of meeting their socioeconomic contracting goals. Through STARS III, agencies can access award-winning 8(a) firms through an established contract vehicle, saving time and taxpayer money over open-market methods.

Agency customers who are interested in using the 8(a) STARS III GWAC are encouraged to monitor GSA events for upcoming delegation of procurement authority training available to both contracting and requirements personnel. Customers may also register to receive notifications regarding upcoming training.

Visit our website to learn more about STARS III or use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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Introducing the IT Vendor Management Office: a new government-wide collaborative effort to solve the toughest challenges in federal IT acquisitions

Posted by Vera Ashworth
on April 27, 2021

The last months have been a whirlwind of activity for the new government-wide Information Technology Vendor Management Office (ITVMO). We not only chartered the ITVMO, but have started working with several partner agencies and IT acquisition experts from across government to identify existing resources that can assist agencies with their buying decisions. The ITVMO brings together the most critical players in the federal IT acquisition landscape to solve challenges agencies and vendors face when buying and selling IT products and solutions.

Launched in October 2020, the ITVMO is a government-wide effort to amplify the benefits of managing vendor engagement in the IT Category to make IT acquisitions faster and more cost effective. The ITVMO serves as a trusted independent advisor and advocate to help agencies buy common IT goods and services. As a one-stop shop, the ITVMO will leverage government-wide IT procurement data, conduct market research, and develop shared agency acquisition knowledge to support agencies’ buying decisions.

There are many programs and initiatives across government that are interested in improving how government buys IT. The ITVMO is unique in that it is a collaborative effort amongst partners in Category Management (CM) with the most critical IT acquisition Best in Class (BIC) contract vehicles and associated programs including:

  • The General Services Administration (GSA);
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH);
  • The Department of Defense (DOD);
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).

Through this collaboration, the ITVMO will advance the goals of IT Category Management (CM) to improve how the government buys common IT goods and services and enable the government to act more as a single entity by sharing best practices and acquisition intelligence as well as eliminating the unnecessary duplication and redundancy that exists between federal agencies.

What’s Happening & What’s Next

One of the central drivers of CM is to mature federal IT acquisitions so that the government acts more like a single buyer rather than many independent agencies. By creating a space where some of the biggest and most impactful federal IT acquisitions programs and initiatives can collaborate and solve shared problems, establishing the ITVMO is a major step toward that goal.

The ITVMO is chartered and led by an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) comprised of several agencies including those with the largest IT BIC vehicles. The ESC determines the strategic direction and project priorities for the ITVMO to solve problems for agencies and vendors alike.

To identify shared challenges and opportunities throughout government, the ITVMO surveyed hundreds of IT and acquisition experts including the Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC) and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) as well as several communities of practices. The ITVMO team also conducted listening sessions with industry groups. The data and feedback gathered from across government is driving the challenges the ITVMO seeks to address in the near future.

ITVMO Customer Segments

The ITVMO’s primary customers are the programs and offices responsible for making buying decisions at each agency, and the vendor community. On January 27th, the ITVMO hosted an Open House for agencies to provide an overview of the ITVMO’s mission and services, and to answer any questions from the community. More information about the ITVMO Open House, including a video recording of the event, is available to government employees.

Based on customer feedback, the ITVMO is working on several products and services that will be made available to agencies in the near future, including:

  • Continuing a Small Business Webinar Series developed in partnership with the IT Government-wide Category and the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council Small Business Alliance so agencies and vendors can learn how GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Multiple Award Schedules Program will allow agencies to more easily procure IT products and services from small businesses.
  • Vendor Profiles that provide agencies with pricing information, specific vendors’ terms and conditions, and best practices for negotiating with that vendor.
  • Deep Vendor Intelligence crowdsourced from IT acquisition experts from across the federal government participating in integrated project teams (IPTs).
  • A Technology Life Cycle Assessment to provide agencies with insights into buying emerging technology and updating existing systems and services to meet evolving needs.
  • A deep dive and review of current Cost Avoidance Methodologies used by IT BIC acquisitions vehicles. The ITVMO is working closely with GSA’s IT Category to provide recommendations on how to improve the accuracy and reliability of cost avoidance methodologies and the underlying contract data.

If any of the above interest you, we would love to connect with you. Please feel free to reach out to the ITVMO inbox at itvmo@gsa.gov.

Coming Soon…

The ITVMO recently launched the first of several IPTs made up of the federal government’s foremost experts in working and negotiating with specific IT vendors. The IPTs will produce recommendations and strategies that can be shared and leveraged throughout government.

ITVMO - Integrated Project Teams

On May 12, 2021, The ITVMO will also host an Industry Day intended for our industry and vendor partners to learn about the mission of the ITVMO and the best way to collaborate with the ITVMO and federal IT acquisitions staff.

Finally, the ITVMO will soon launch our website to share the ITVMO’s latest updates and activities, post relevant templates and resources, and direct users to the relevant information to meet their IT acquisition needs.

Additional insight can be found on our ITVMO MAX page, and you can sign up for our newsletter. If you have any questions or general inquiries, please feel free to reach out to us at the ITVMO inbox at itvmo@gsa.gov.

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

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The Federal Mobility Group: Signals of Progress

Posted by Laura Stanton
on April 1, 2021

In 2019, two distinct working groups comprised of federal telecom professionals merged to form the Federal Mobility Group (FMG). Focused on the four pillars of agency mission enablement, 5G technology, mobility security, and acquisitions, the FMG’s purpose is to:

  • Share information to enable government adoption of secure mobile technologies supporting mission
  • Identify/Address member priorities (gaps/challenge areas)
  • Identify/Address Federal CIO Council and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) priorities

GSA is one of three FMG Chairs, supported by subject-driven working groups. GSA shares its FMG leadership role with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and has served the FMG since inception. The FMG’s 2020 agenda focused on supporting agencies’ pandemic related security and mobility challenges as well as delivering research on Mobile Security and 5G.

2020 Recap

Working groups are the engines of the FMG – and while pandemic response was top of mind, the FMG working groups used 2020 to deepen exploration and discovery across many technical areas:

Mobility 101: Interested in how the federal government defines mobility? Need help understanding the existing acquisition options agencies can leverage to procure mobile technology? Watch the acquisition working group’s webinar highlighting available products and services.

5G Use Cases: The 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure working group collected and edited 11 federal use cases and published their Framework to Conduct 5G Testing, a modular approach to support the diverse needs of government stakeholders. On April 27 and 28, 2021, the FMG will host an interagency workshop based around this framework.

5G Public Policy Guidance: Want to learn more about policies and regulations impacting the adoption of 5G? Read more about the accomplishments and work from the FMG on their site (PIV card required) where you can review the white paper published by the Mobile Network Infrastructure subgroup. Public facing news and deliverables can be found on the FMG page and News section of the Cio.gov site.

Engage, Explore, Educate: In addition to developing resources to support the mobile community, the FMG invites industry partners to share new technologies and discuss recent events and learning, ensuring the team benefits from industry best practices.

5G-Related Federal Initiatives

Looking Forward to 2021

The Federal Mobility Group has set a high bar for its 2021 deliverables. They include:

  • FY 21 & Beyond: FISMA Mobility Metrics Report
  • Integrated Data Collection Mobility Data Reporting/Analysis
  • International Travel Guidance For Mobile Devices
  • Mobile Security Ecosystem Whitepaper

On April 20, 2021 ATARC and the FMG will co-host an event showcasing the work of the team and discussing 5G and Mobile Security in government. Register here.

The Mobility team at GSA supports a growing number of digital tools and resources to position your program and contracting staff for long-term success. If your agency is interested in learning more about our suite of mobility offerings, GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule and Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) have everything from Wireless Carrier Services to Mobile Threat Defense to Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

Get Involved

The FMG includes 200+ federal mobility SMEs and support contractors from 45 agencies and bureaus across the federal and technical spectrum. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss a variety of topics. Membership requires an active .gov or .mil address. To join the team, email wireless@gsa.gov.

Other 5G/Mobility Great Government Through Technology posts:

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

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FY20: Exceptional Work in an Exceptional Year

Posted by Laura Stanton
on March 30, 2021

The Numbers Are In – Biggest Year on Record for GSA ITC!

In Fiscal Year 2020, the Information Technology Category (ITC) recorded more than $30 billion in business volume across its portfolio. For context, this accounts for nearly a third (33%) of the $89 billion total that was spent on IT across all federal agencies in FY20.

Accordingly, this past fiscal year proved to be a record year in other categories as well:

  • IT spending through the Multiple Award Schedule accounted for an impressive $18.1 billion of the $30 Billion total, bolstered by its $12.7 Billion in new obligations. In FY20, MAS IT impressively posted 18% annual growth in new obligations.
  • On the Small Business front, ITC accounted for $7.1 Billion in utilization from Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), Schedules, and Telecommunications
  • ITC issued a single award via its telecommunications branch to the tune of $2.5 Billion, using the Enterprise Infrastructure Service (EIS) Contract. The award was made on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, and over the lifetime of the contract, the agency estimates it will save more than $700 million.
  • ITC accounted for more than $2 billion in savings and cost avoidance to their customers

FY20 Efforts in Review

The 2020 Fiscal Year drove change through every part of our lives. COVID-19 spurred dramatic change in government work culture and led to rapid technological adaptation across all agencies. A good deal of ITC’s increased business volume can be attributed to agencies transitioning to mobile-friendly technology. However, this unprecedented spending is also due to agencies acknowledging that GSA is a solid partner as they make big IT changes and choices about how to invest. We’re out front and focused when it comes to customer service, agile response to emergency needs, and delivery of mission-enabling and emerging technologies.

In 2020, customer agencies turned to GSA’s schedules program, assisted acquisition services and governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWAC) to fulfill pandemic-driven requirements as well as regular demand for products and services. Our success embodies the trust that federal agencies have put in us and our ability to address elements that our customers most care about:

  • Speed of acquisition
  • Assistance with mobile-friendly technology adoption
  • Technical and market expertise
  • Data transparency
  • General customer service

Agencies have turned to and relied on us to ensure their mission continuity and transition to a more untethered workforce.

In FY20, ITC launched the Information Technology Acquisition University (ITAU) to make it easier to learn about GSA’s products, IT solutions available through GWACs, MAS, and more. ITAU is a digital training platform for emerging technologies, their acquisition, GSA-specific contract training and more.

Additionally, ITC enhanced the Cloud Information Center, the GSA-curated federal resource hub for all things cloud, continuing to place valuable cloud computing resources in the hands of agencies.

These resources are ways that GSA is meeting the rise in demand for virtual access to our subject matter experts and more online learning platforms.

Looking Forward

In FY21, GSA is doubling down on emerging technologies as the way of the future. The 8(a) STARS III and Polaris government-wide acquisition vehicles will have Artificial Intelligence offerings (Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Natural Language Processing), edge computing and more. As the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) effort ramps up and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) principles are emphasized, GSA will continue to prioritize security as a core tenet of acquisitions.

As my Deputy Assistant Commissioner Keith Nakasone likes to remind me, agencies are coming to GSA to leverage our IT expertise and the buying power of the government. They want to know that the products they’re adding to their IT footprint aren’t jeopardizing their networks. To that end, the CMMC level can be designated as needed at the task order requirement level. Large contracts such as the 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) hardware/software Blanket Purchase Agreements, have SCRM built in as a key operational component. Ultimately, GSA understands it plays a crucial role and has a considerable responsibility for an agency’s IT health.

Going into FY22, ITC will continue to provide the tools needed to successfully modernize while prioritizing cost-efficiency, expediency, and security. Leveraging Best In Class (BIC) contracts is one way. Taking advantage of online resources like ITAU and the CIC is another. Give your agency a reason to acquire with confidence — work with GSA for your next IT acquisition.

As always, follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.
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GSA’s VETS 2 GWAC Celebrates 3rd Year Anniversary

Posted by Laura Stanton
on February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021 marks the third anniversary for GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Customers from across the federal government have used VETS 2 for a wide variety of IT Services while also receiving Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) credit toward their Small Business Procurement Scorecard, as well as Best-in-Class (BIC) Tier 3 credit toward Spend Under Management goals. I’m pleased to report that in just three years, VETS 2 has more than 100 task order awards with a total estimated value at approximately $1.1 billion.

VETS 2 provides access to 69 highly qualified companies capable of completing virtually any IT service requirement, including agile software development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other emerging technologies. Customers have used VETS 2 for a wide range of mission-critical requirements, including a web conferencing solution at GSA, a cybersecurity support project for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an IT service desk for the US Air Force, to name a few. With strategic partners like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Treasury identifying GSA Best-in-Class GWACs as preferred sources for IT requirements, the future is bright for VETS 2.

I couldn’t be more proud of the VETS 2 program team and our small business industry partners – the work they do makes a real difference. With an initial period of performance through February 22, 2023, and a five-year option until February 22, 2028, VETS 2 has a lot of runway to help your agency achieve its mission.

For more information on specific task orders on VETS 2, visit the Governmentwide Acquisition Contract Dashboards page. Additional information about the contract and training opportunities can be found at the VETS 2 page. Please send questions about VETS 2 to vets2@gsa.gov.

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

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Working Untethered: Enable Your Mission with GSA Best-In-Class Mobility Solutions

Posted by Laura Stanton
on December 14, 2020

In the 1990s, the Department of Defense adopted the term “untethered” to describe an emerging military doctrine made possible by advances in wireless communications technology. Untethered operations meant they could be launched anytime, anywhere, thanks to systems that were flexible, secure, cost-effective, and —above all— attainable.

Out of necessity, the federal workforce is now working untethered. Sometimes, that makes us feel isolated, but we know the productivity tools we are putting in place today will shape how agencies can effectively carry out their missions tomorrow. Now is the time to equip the mobile workforce with the right mix of products and services, so teams can continue to work untethered while still staying connected.

Untethered Doesn’t Mean You’re On Your Own

GSA’s Wireless Mobility Solutions Program keeps your workforce connected and anchored; it provides everything you need to support your agency’s wireless needs. Our Best-in-Class (BIC) contract includes wireless carriers and resellers, telecommunications expense management, mobile device management, mobile security, and more.

The Wireless Mobility Solutions Special Item Number (Wireless SIN) on the Multiple Award Schedule is the path that makes it possible.

Everything Where You Need It

The Wireless SIN is a seasoned contract that is continuously evolving to keep pace with commercial offerings and best practices. Because it’s Best-in-Class, agencies will have access to category management data they can leverage to save time and resources.

Building on the successes of the FSSI Wireless BPA program, we’ve expanded the Wireless SIN to create a one-stop-shop that includes 11 subcategories.

  1. Wireless Carrier Services
  2. Mobile Hardware/Infrastructure
  3. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
  4. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
  5. Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS)
  6. Telecom Expense Management Services (TEMS)
  7. Mobile Application Vetting
  8. Mobile Threat Protection (MTP)
  9. Mobile Identity Management
  10. Internet of Things (IoT)
  11. Other/Mobile Services

Tested and Proven

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of streamlined acquisition. A public health agency was able to use our program and quickly gain access to more than 7,000 first responder-capable wireless devices to better support their efforts across the country.

A Contract with a Community

Improving customer experience is a driving force behind every ITC offering. In addition to managing a Best-in-Class contract, the Wireless Mobility team at GSA supports a growing number of digital tools and resources to position your program and contracting staff for long-term success, including:

Our Wireless Mobility team also plays a key role in the ongoing efforts of the Federal Mobility Group (FMG), an interagency community of practice focused on 5G adoption, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, artificial intelligence, security concerns and policy regulations. Through the FMG, our community is engaged in continuous learning and collaboration. Everyone is untethered, but no one is alone.

Untether Today

If you have comments, questions, or want to join the FMG, contact our Wireless Mobility team at wireless@gsa.gov

GSA’s MAS IT Category continually works to deliver enterprise mobility solutions to achieve value, cost savings, and balance between functionality, security, and management for its customers. Take advantage of the BIC Wireless Mobility Solutions SIN and more by visiting our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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

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Polaris: GSA’s Next-Generation Small Business GWAC

Posted by Laura Stanton
on October 1, 2020

As an organization, GSA places a lot of importance on guiding IT service providers in forming relationships and doing business with the federal government. GSA is also here to assist agencies as they navigate the marketplace of emerging and transformative IT solutions that will help them achieve their missions and perform efficiently.

With that in mind, we’re naming our next-generation Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) “Polaris,” and we’re developing it with these important attributes as our guides.

Polaris is also known as “The Guiding Star” in the night sky. This GWAC represents another step forward for the next generation of IT services based solutions from GSA. Polaris will not only guide small businesses through the federal market, it will also help GSA customer agencies through the acquisition of IT service-based solutions, and give GSA a chance to improve our offerings and set the agency on a solid course for the future.

On August 27, GSA hosted “Your Voice Matters: Help Shape GSA’s Next Small Business GWAC Industry Forum.” During the event, attendees heard firsthand about our vision for providing opportunities for small businesses – including underrepresented socio-economic categories – and state-of-the-art IT solutions for federal agencies through next-generation GWACs.

Teamwork makes the dream work

GSA recognizes the value of collaborating with our industry partners, customers, and other stakeholders. The only way to improve the quality and availability of IT services in the marketplace is to know exactly how agencies and industry partners feel about current products and processes, as well as opportunities for innovation. For that reason, we solicited feedback from industry partners prior to and during the industry forum. At that time, we also vowed to keep the conversation going.

To facilitate that dialogue, we launched the SB GWAC Community of Interest (COI). The COI is a webpage that allows for an exchange of thoughts on topics related to all of GSA’s small business GWACs. This input will be taken into consideration as we develop a plan forward. Additionally, engagement with agency and industry partners will continue through additional market research.

Broadening the Industrial Base

Pricing Strategy: GSA is considering new strategies to increase our pool of qualified small businesses that serve federal agencies. One of the most ambitious approaches involves the potential employment of Section 876 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act in the next-generation vehicle, through FAS’s “Enhancing Competition at the Order Level” initiative under the Federal Marketplace Strategy. Section 876 gives GSA authority to award contracts to qualifying offerors without considering prices for services acquired on an hourly rate basis.

As this would shift the focus to pricing competition at the task order level – it is important that we continue our efforts to increase competition in the marketplace by creating opportunities for qualified small businesses.

On-ramps: By offering open season on-ramps, the industrial base could be expanded as technology changes, the market evolves, and to improve competition at the task order level. This would be a great benefit to federal agencies. On-ramping could allow agencies continuous access to top performing industry partners that offer the latest advancements in technology. On-ramping will also allow vendors the opportunity for consideration to be on the GWAC following the initial award period.

Additionally, small businesses with fresh ideas could have the opportunity to participate in the federal IT services marketplace. This approach could also improve overall federal government efficiency and might potentially help close the age-old government/private sector technology gap.

Opportunity Expansion: GSA’s small business GWACs have supported agencies in meeting their small business goals for more than two decades. We want to build on this success by looking at small businesses without socio economic status as well as options to increase opportunities for HUBZone and woman-owned small businesses. GSA is also eager to engage with industry about the possibilities of providing lifecycle opportunities on GSA contract vehicles for small businesses as they grow and mature.

Embracing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Polaris aims to provide customers with streamlined access to emerging technology providers including those offering artificial intelligence, automated technologies (like robotic process automation), blockchain, 5G implementation (including edge computing), cyber security, and cloud.

Efforts to Ease the Process

In hopes of optimizing performance, GSA is improving existing business practices. Recent industry feedback has made it clear that we must work even harder to ease the strain that prospective future GWAC holders experience while trying to partner with us. For that reason, we are working on improvements to the proposal submission and evaluation processes. We’re currently exploring the use of an online proposal submission tool to expedite the award process. We’re also looking at an evaluation strategy that aligns with customer requirements, while using objective evaluation criteria to the maximum extent possible. Additionally, as a result of positive feedback received on the self-scoring approach used on VETS 2 and Alliant 2, a similar strategy for the new vehicle is being considered.

Power in Knowing

GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) has long been a valued resource to the small business community. We recognize that small businesses fuel the nation’s economy and sincerely welcome our responsibility to provide the support the community needs and expects. As with past GWAC launches, GSA is equipped to help prospective GWAC partners familiarize themselves with the process. GSA’s OSDBU team helps small businesses better position themselves for available opportunities by providing training and resources. This includes free virtual training on creating a federal marketing plan, and identifying federal customers through the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). For more information, regional OSDBU contacts can be accessed by visiting GSA’s small business support page.

We plan to host regular engagement events to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the path to the new Polaris solicitation and award. Details about our future engagements will be made available on the COI web page.

What’s the Timeline?

We are in the very early stages of the process and are looking forward to continuing dialogue with our industry partners and agency customers. We’re working to release a request for information this month and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get a draft request for proposals out within the next few months.

We are enthusiastic that our new, next-generation small business GWAC has the potential to not only increase the industrial base and pool of qualified vendors, but also vastly increase the quality and diversity of IT services available to federal agency customers.

Interested parties should join the COI.

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

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The New Cloud Information Center Is About More Than Just Looks

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 26, 2020
Cloud Information Center

The enhanced Cloud Information Center is designed to help users intuitively navigate the cloud adoption process, leverage best practices, and find training opportunities.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” The ancient philosopher Plutarch first proposed this analogy nearly 2,000 years ago in his essay On Listening to Lectures to help his students learn. Though the means by which we convey knowledge have expanded, the same didactic concept can be applied to educating the Federal IT workforce about cloud computing.

Last year, the government updated its Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. Known as Cloud Smart, the strategy identified three key pillars of successful cloud adoption—security, procurement, and workforce—and directed actions be taken to strengthen them. Number one on the list was the creation of “a central location to share guidance and best practices on cloud-related topics with [government] agencies.

GSA created the Cloud Information Center (CIC) to serve as this cloud computing knowledge hub and frontline resource for Cloud Smart acquisitions. It contains a comprehensive collection of up-to-date cloud computing best practices, guidance, and templates from across the government. For the past year, the CIC has been actively educating government cloud stakeholders and demonstrating how federal agencies can leverage the technology to effectively enable their respective goals and missions.

As Plutarch’s insight into human learning demonstrates, putting all the information in one place is not enough, it must be presented in a way that is approachable and sparks interest. Having accomplished its first goal of centralizing the government’s cloud knowledge, the next iteration of the CIC delivers a positive digital experience that prioritizes accessibility and learning.

The enhanced CIC joins 18F, Centers of Excellence and FedRAMP in leveraging the Federalist platform and U.S. Web Design System to deliver rapid deployment and modern design. Visitors will enjoy an improved user experience: a cleaner interface, more intuitive navigation, and content organized in sequence of the cloud adoption lifecycle. The enhanced CIC follows the core user experience requirements set forth in the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, making it:

  • accessible and usable
  • based around user needs and tasks
  • consistent in appearance
  • securely hosted and connected
  • original, not duplicative
  • searchable
  • mobile-friendly

By embracing these human-centered design principles, the CIC will be more accessible to individuals with disabilities and better positioned to serve a wider audience.

The CIC is a collaborative effort. It will continue to promote and enable governmentwide adoption and deployment of cloud technologies without bias towards any particular contract vehicle, vendor or solution. It incorporates information and experiences from government agencies, industry, academia and other cloud-involved entities. If you are a cloud stakeholder who is interested in contributing to the CIC, making suggestions, listing a cloud contract vehicle or otherwise improving the tool’s comprehensiveness and accuracy, the GSA Cloud Team wants to hear from you.

Email cloudinfo@gsa.gov to contribute a cloud resource, share your feedback or to reach a cloud subject matter expert.

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

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STARS II, Taking Action

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 18, 2020

The federal government places great importance on providing opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses to gain experience and learn how to compete in the federal marketplace. In partnership with the Small Business Administration, GSA is helping the federal government provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by the socially and economically disadvantaged. Competition is intentionally limited on certain contracts to businesses that participate in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.

As a small disadvantaged business set-aside that provides flexible access to customized IT services and IT-services based solutions from a large, diverse pool of 8(a) industry partners, 8(a) STARS II has been a critical mission-enabler for agencies. We couldn’t be more proud of our 8(a) partners and their long track record of success. STARS II has exceeded our expectations at every turn and has been increasingly successful in serving the IT solutions needs of the federal government. As a result of the important work that agencies are doing through STARS II, we recently reached the contract’s ceiling for the third time.

Partnering closely with the SBA, GSA took quick action and raised the contract’s ceiling by $7B to $22B. This will help preserve the IT services supplier base during a national crisis, minimize disruption to agencies purchasing during the pandemic, and provide agencies continued access to STARS II until STARS III is available. SBA has been a great partner throughout this process. They see the unprecedented health and economic emergency caused by COVID-19 and how the pandemic is threatening the survival of many small businesses. Sustaining America’s small businesses, and ensuring maximum, practicable opportunity for small businesses, is at the heart of SBA’s mission. Their support was critical in meeting the statutory requirements under the Competition in Contracting Act that made this modification possible.

Without this much-needed increase, no new task orders could have been awarded on STARS II and all businesses on STARS II would have been ineligible for any additional business through this GWAC. The ceiling increase allows each of the 787 businesses on STARS II to continue offering Best-in-Class IT solutions to agency clients through the current contract ordering period ending August 30, 2021.

Unexpected Consequences of Demand

If GSA and SBA had not increased the ceiling, agencies could not have responded to COVID as quickly and none of the STARS II firms would have received new awards. We quickly determined that the only way to help enable a rapid agency response to the pandemic and to protect the industrial base was to increase the ceiling and keep all firms eligible during the response to the crisis.

GSA and SBA only had two viable options to raise the ceiling: 1.) to only allow firms in the SBA 8(a) program (excluding contract holders who had graduated) to receive directed task order awards, or 2.) to raise the ceiling for all industry partners, but reduce the Period of Performance (PoP).

GSA in coordination with SBA determined raising the ceiling and decreasing the PoP to 2 years was the best business decision for several reasons:

  1. GSA and SBA anticipated the 2-year PoP would permit agencies to respond to the immediate agency needs for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. All of the 8(a) STARS II vendors will now have the opportunity to pursue $7 billion in new business. Approximately 538 vendors have graduated from the 8(a) Program and, thanks to the ceiling increase, are still benefiting from the opportunities on 8(a) STARS II. In addition, the 204 current 8(a) firms and 45 Joint Venture firms also now are able to compete for up to $7 billion in new opportunities.
  3. A 2-year PoP will allow 8(a) program graduates the opportunity to transition out of the STARS II program. Both GSA and SBA provide a wide variety of training courses and other resources to assist small businesses that have graduated from the 8(a) Program with positioning themselves to win Federal contracts. Examples include training and guidance on finding Federal procurement opportunities, pursuing small business set asides, and becoming a mentor-protege. More information is available at SBA Learning Center and GSA Small Business.

STARS II is a flexible and high-performing contract that agencies need now more than ever as we navigate new ways of providing employee and citizen services. This contract vehicle is doing a lot of good and important work for industry and government during the pandemic and, as a good partner to the 8(a) community, we’re pleased to ensure that it can continue.

For more information, you can view a recording of our recent town hall with industry on the topic of the ceiling increase on YouTube.

What’s Next: The Future of the 8(a) STARS GWAC Program

We are excited to move forward to the next phase of the STARS franchise as we prepare for 8(a) STARS III. The solicitation for 8(a) STARS III was released on July 6, 2020.

We have developed an aggressive solicitation and evaluation timeline to make awards for 8(a) STARS III as soon as possible. The 8(a) STARS III GWAC will continue GSA’s commitment to providing world-class information technology solutions, and also add innovation in the areas of emerging technology and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS).

We expect STARS III to remain a go-to contract vehicle for agencies wanting to work with small, disadvantaged businesses, trusted for responsiveness to the IT solutions demands of our customer agencies.

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

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How can GSA improve future Small Business GWACs? Join us virtually on Thursday, August 27th at 3 pm Eastern to help.

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GSA IT Acquisition University – Train On Demand!

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 5, 2020
GSA IT Acquisition University

The IT Acquisition University is designed to increase access to on-demand information technology training for interested IT government professionals.

Federal acquisition can be a murky topic. When procuring IT products that can’t be seen, are hard to quantify, and are on the cutting edge of innovation, federal acquisition becomes even more difficult. To make things easier, we launched a new training tool, the IT Acquisition University (ITAU), that aims to cut through and demystify the challenges of government IT acquisition.

Hosted on GSA’s Acquisition Gateway, ITAU is a public, on-demand platform that gives users access to training on such topics as cybersecurity, cloud migration, and federal IT modernization. A library of videos, slideshows, audio, and other media will be at the fingertips of those looking to increase their IT acquisition skillset. Government users seeking Continuous Learning Point (CLP) opportunities can take advantage of short quizzes after each completed training to earn CLPs on their own schedule. Whether you are a contracting professional, program manager, or a federal IT stakeholder, the breadth of material aims to appeal to all program levels and positions.

GSA’s ITAU sources its content from many of GSA’s own training and events. Access recordings of recent GSA Information Technology Category (ITC) programming to stay up-to-date with best practices, acquisition tips and tricks, and more. The portal also has GSA-specific training available for many of its contracts, such as Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). Regular content refreshes will ensure that the site’s training material stays relevant and useful.

We hope that the federal IT acquisition community will take advantage of this exciting educational tool. GSA ITC welcomes user feedback and questions at the following email: ITAU@gsa.gov.

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

To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.

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