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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Air Force and GSA Sign MOU for IT Products BPAs

Posted by Kay Ely
on September 5, 2018

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

In June, I hosted several officials from the U.S. Air Force here at GSA for an official signing ceremony. My team and their counterparts at the Air Force have worked diligently together over the past several months to better understand the Air Force’s IT products needs as their current contract solution approaches its sunset in November 2019.

Our two agencies have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This MOU sets forth guiding principles for a strategic partnership that allows GSA’s IT Hardware Category Team and IT Schedule 70 to establish a multiple-award blanket purchase agreement (BPA) on behalf of the Air Force. This BPA will replace the Air Force NETCENTS-2 IT Products IDIQ contract.

The IT Products BPA is expected to be available to all federal government agencies, as well as state, local, and tribal entities, consistent with GSA’s Cooperative Purchasing program.

Partnering for Better Solutions

This MOU allows us to consolidate knowledge and buying power to shape our acquisition strategy, making sure that we’re helping the federal government effectively acquire IT goods. The solution we develop will streamline the Air Force’s acquisition process — and, the federal government’s, more broadly — as well as reduce contract duplication, while saving time, resources, and taxpayer dollars. This solution also:

  • Ensures Air Force receives Trade Agreements Act (TAA)-compliant products
  • Mitigates risk of grey-market items
  • Incorporates enhanced supply chain risk management (SCRM) processes from GSA-vetted industry partners

Answering the Call to Increase Savings

Partnerships like this directly address the call to action presented in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). PMA Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 7 on category management specifically directs agencies to “leverage common contracts and best practices to drive savings and efficiencies.”

We Appreciate our Partners

I would like to thank the Air Force for the confidence they placed in us as we formally acknowledged this agreement.

We value our continuing partnership with the Air Force and their commitment to using GSA. We are looking forward to working together to build a world-class solution for purchasing IT products efficiently, securely, and at competitive prices.

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

From Left: Mary Davie, Deputy Commissioner, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service; William E. Marion II, Deputy Chief, Information Dominance and Deputy Chief Information Officer, USAF; Kay T. Ely, Assistant Commissioner, GSA’s Office of Information Technology Category; Mr. Richard W. Lombardi, Deputy Under Secretary of the USAF; Brigadier General Cameron G. Holt, USAF

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GSA’s VETS 2 GWAC Open for Business

Posted by Kay Ely
on March 22, 2018

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

Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) is now open for business and ready to accept task orders.

VETS 2 is the only GWAC in the federal government set aside exclusively for Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB).  It’s designed to meet diverse agency IT services requirements, including new and emerging technologies. SDVOSBs are foundational to helping the government make important changes to modernize aging and legacy IT systems.  GSA is committed to ensuring we tap into their expertise through contracts like VETS 2.

Like its successful predecessor, VETS 2 provides agencies with access to customized IT solutions from a highly qualified pool of industry partners.  The original VETS contract helped participating SDVOSB businesses deliver $2.1 billion in services and solutions to the federal government. We’d like to match or exceed that on VETS 2.

In developing the new VETS 2, we performed an unprecedented amount of market research that centered around customer and industry feedback.  In addition to issuing a request for information (RFI) and draft request for proposal (RFP), we also surveyed hundreds of past and current GWAC ordering contracting officers, created a government customer working group, and used the feedback to enhance the offering.

VETS 2 GWAC highlights include:

  • Best-in-Class – VETS 2 is a Best-in-Class (BIC) contract designated by the Office of Management and Budget as a preferred governmentwide solution
  • Comprehensive Scope – VETS 2 meets a variety of diverse agency IT requirements, including new and emerging technologies
  • Flexible Contract Types – fixed price, cost reimbursement, time & materials, and labor hour orders are all allowed
  • Allows for Long-Term Planning – VETS 2 has a five-year base period and one five-year option period
  • Robust Contractor Pool – VETS 2 provides access to 70 highly qualified SDVOSB firms
  • Socioeconomic Impact – VETS 2 helps federal agencies support our veteran community while achieving their prime contract goals using SDVOSBs

IT Services Scope

In addition to common IT services that the federal government regularly purchases, VETS 2 also fulfills projects that require new or emerging IT services.

Scope includes, but is not limited to:

  • Data management
  • Information and communications technology
  • IT operations and maintenance
  • IT security
  • Software development
  • Systems design

We look forward to working with you through the VETS 2 GWAC as we continue our commitment to providing IT solutions with the ongoing help of the veteran community.

For more information, including how to order, please visit www.gsa.gov/VETS2 or contact us at VETS2@gsa.gov.

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

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Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) GWAC Awarded

Posted by Kay Ely
on November 2, 2017

If small businesses are the backbone to our economy, then veterans of the armed forces are the backbone of our country. Even after their sacrifices through military service, many veterans continue to serve our great nation by providing innovative information technology (IT) solutions to government.

GSA prides itself on delivering mission critical IT solutions that make a meaningful difference to the agencies we support and the citizens that count on them. This philosophy is at the center of our development of new IT contract vehicles and I’m proud that it played a vital role as GSA created our new Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

VETS 2 – a unique acquisition vehicle

The new VETS 2 GWAC is a unique contribution to the federal acquisition community — the only GWAC set-aside exclusively for Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). VETS 2 is designed to be flexible enough to meet diverse agency IT requirements, including new and emerging technologies. VETS 2 also enables GSA to continue its support of the SDVOSB Procurement Program, while helping federal agencies achieve their socio-economic goals.

Contract development at its best

Lessons learned from our original VETS contract played a big role in building VETS 2, as did extensive market research. In conjunction with issuing a request for information (RFI) and draft request for proposal (RFP), we also surveyed hundreds of past and current GWAC ordering contracting officers, created a government customer working group, and utilized a GSA Interact page to collaborate with more than 1,000 members from industry and government to design VETS 2. The result is a multiple award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with a best-in-class designation and 70 of the world’s premier SDVOSB IT service providers.

What’s new with VETS 2

All of the team’s research and due diligence, coupled with VETS success resulted in a VETS 2 contract that is even better than its predecessor. New key features include:

  • The ability for cost-type contracts
  • An expanded scope for virtually any IT services-based solution – including cybersecurity and new, emerging technologies
  • An overall simplified contract through the elimination of functional areas – a simplified scope covering all IT services
  • A larger pool of suppliers — an even greater proportion of which now hold International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certifications, facility clearances levels, audited/approved cost accounting systems, and experience working with multiple agencies.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about the launch of VETS 2 as we continue our commitment to providing IT solutions with the ongoing help of the veteran community.

For more information, please visit www.gsa.gov/VETS2 or contact VETS2@gsa.gov.

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

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Hybrid Cloud: A Key to Phasing in New Technologies

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 1, 2017

Like any newer technology, cloud computing has faced adoption challenges. IT managers understand the huge potential efficiency improvements and savings that cloud computing can bring to their agencies, but also have questions about security, compatibility, and funding. With these concerns and without a clear path to cloud computing, many agencies continue to maintain on-premises solutions. However, the costs of legacy systems are expensive, and this is a particularly important issue in a budget-constrained environment.

So what can IT managers do?

Many IT managers are turning to a hybrid cloud solution. Hybrid allows an agency to phase in new technologies without making wholesale adoptions agency-wide. For example, an agency could identify all public-facing websites and move them to a public cloud in order to eliminate costly, on-premises servers and maintenance costs.

With the hybrid cloud, that same agency can also continue to operate sensitive systems on-premises to meet proper security requirements, while reducing costs in other areas. As the agency grows more comfortable with cloud solutions, they can transition other services, and employ private or community clouds depending on their requirements.

Agencies can also benefit from pay-for-use services that expand and contract according to usage and need. Reducing the need for large investments in less flexible and more costly infrastructure. It also gives government agencies a flexible and efficient alternative to replace costly, outdated legacy systems.

More agencies are moving to the cloud, and hybrid is a nice transition that allows for the most flexibility, enabling fully customizable and highly efficient solutions. And agencies can use the best available solutions provided by the best available suppliers.

Moving to the Cloud—Hand in Hand

Although embracing hybrid cloud solutions is a little different from traditional IT procurements, agencies don’t have to transition alone—we are here to help. We have experts in cloud technologies with useful resources including requirements and needs analysis, scope reviews, and can advise you on how to structure the procurement and which “pre-competed” contract best fits your needs.

If you are considering moving to cloud, visit www.gsa.gov/cloud or the Acquisition Gateway for industry leading white papers, checklists, and templates that will make your implementation successful. You can also reach out directly to our cloud experts who are on hand to support agencies through transitions at cesdd@gsa.gov.

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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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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ITC Continues to Lead Innovation – Geospatial Software Contracts Reach New Heights

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 5, 2016

Geospatial Software Success with Esri

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions ‒ as part of GSA’s role in implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) ‒ we’re incorporating cutting-edge, new, and innovative IT ideas and solutions into our programs, contracts and processes. We’re also expanding our work in information technology (IT) Category Management.

Last year the Enterprise Software Category Team worked with Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) to modify Esri’s GSA Schedule 70 terms and conditions for geospatial software Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs), resulting in improved efficiency, pricing, terms and conditions, and transparency

Modifying Esri’s IT Schedule 70 contract for single license agreements to a “FITARA ELA” was smart and prudent. In fact, the solution started recognizing savings immediately. Esri captures $74 million of the government-wide $294 million annual spend on geospatial software licenses.

Beyond the benefits to agencies utilizing ELAs, federal agencies currently use the standard license agreement (SLAs) receive a 10% discount; approximately $2 million in savings during fiscal 2016. They can see even greater savings by converting to the FITARA ELA.

Saving More with the GSA FITARA ELA

FITARA, passed by Congress in December 2014 and implemented at the beginning of 2015, helps government agencies optimize the cost of IT ownership through better management. Our FITARA solution provides government-wide savings based on the aggregate purchase for all federal agencies. This solution also affords large-volume discounts for agencies, regardless of the number of licenses. For instance, a small department needing only a few licenses can take advantage of the same discounts as a larger organization requiring more software.

By cost savings alone, the new government-wide FITARA ELA will potentially save American taxpayers millions of dollars. Moreover, the FITARA ELA not only saves millions of dollars, but it also:

  • Improves efficiencies by eliminating the need for separate negotiations;
  • Reduces administrative costs by implementing a single set of terms & conditions across government;
  • Offers tiered discounts by leveraging the buying power of the federal government;
  • Benefits from increased price transparency; and
  • Provides government agencies access to the agreement, as well as software management best practices in the software hallway on the Acquisition Gateway.

Non-ELA agencies that move to an Esri FITARA ELA save, on average, 50% by signing a FITARA ELA with Esri.

Existing ELA agencies can switch to an Esri FITARA ELA by processing just an administrative modification ‒ one more paragraph added to your existing ELA contract. There is no need to recompete; the turnaround process averages about 24 hours. These agencies will receive at least an additional 3% in savings on ELA payments starting January 2017, due to more than $30 million spent through current licensing agreements sales and based on tiered discounts (3% savings for $30 million threshold).

Agencies already completing the switch to Esri FITARA ELAs include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of the Air Force (Civil Engineer)
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Transportation (Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. National Guard (Army/Air Guard)
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Based upon how agencies buy between single and enterprise license agreements by the end of the fiscal year, we’re expecting a 5-6% overall savings when agencies fully roll onto the Esri IT Schedule 70 contract.

Benefits to the Government

We continue to look for opportunities to partner with our suppliers on targeted agreements and bring more savings to government agencies. What is more, the government benefits through reduced duplicative contracts, allowing our industry partners to bring innovation to the federal marketplace faster and change the government discussion from procuring technology to transforming enterprises.

We appreciate Esri being the first to offer a government-wide ELA, giving government agencies the opportunity to benefit from this partnership. Through the FITARA ELA, federal agencies:

  • Save on future products. New products that are released will automatically be available at no additional charge.
  • Tap into different training venues at no additional cost.
  • Stay up-to-speed on current technology and get exposure to best-in-class solutions.
  • In the event of a disaster, receive disaster support around the clock.

Stay tuned as we will be announcing another FITARA based ELA very soon!

For more information visit us on the Acquisition Gateway.

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

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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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