GSA, Customers, and Vendors Meet in Texas for 2019 ITC Acquisition Summit

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on October 1, 2019

This August, we brought nearly 300 representatives from government and industry together for our 2019 IT Acquisition Summit. Collaborative events like this are critical to our success in supporting agency missions across government.

We met in Fort Worth, home of GSA’s Greater Southwest Region 7, which spans Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. We used a human-centered design approach to generate open communication and collaboration between GSA and our industry partners. Learning through use-cases and sharing information helps us better understand the challenges and constraints both government and industry have.

The summit was held in coordination with the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) and moderated by its president, Tom Suder. During the first day, attendees heard from various GSA and industry representatives on popular topics such as cybersecurity, mobility, 5G, emerging tech, and IT modernization. 

Dennis Shingleton, member of the City Council and mayor pro tempore, opened the summit with a boisterous Texas-style welcome.

I moderated the kick-off session with panelists Bill Zielinski, Assistant Commissioner of the IT Category; Anahita Reilly, Chief Customer Officer of the Office of Customer Experience; and Dominic Sale, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Operations for Technology Transformation Services. They discussed GSA’s approach to IT modernization, category management, and shared services.

An afternoon panel from the Mobility Services Category Team discussed the 5G rollout, how it will shape public-sector adoption of Internet of Things applications, and its implications for supply chain security. Allen Hill, director of the Office of Telecommunications, opened the session, and Sam Navarro, program manager of the Enterprise Mobility Program, moderated the panel. Representatives from AT&T, Verizon, MetTel, and T-Mobile discussed the state of mobile technology and how consumers of 5G determine the new ways they will use the technology.

Our summit concluded with opportunities to attend one-on-one sessions with GSA acquisition professionals and an interactive use-case workshop.

We plan on hosting the IT Acquisition Summit again in 2020 — slated for Washington, D.C. The open communication and collaboration in a focused setting foster the type of game-changing ideas we need to continue enhancing IT acquisition for the whole of government.

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.

*Photographs above by James Wronski, Carahsoft

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GSA Leading the Way for 5G

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on September 26, 2019

In July, we gave you a first look at the possibilities of 5th generation wireless technology (5G) in the public sector.

Commercially, 5G devices will deliver voice, video, and data to consumers with unparalleled efficiency for broadband mobility. Providers will upgrade their networks, manufacturers will develop new types of devices, and industry will market products and services around connectivity and mobility.

For the government, a 5G future is more complex since we’ll be tasked with making these technologies useful for everyone. That’s why we’re publishing a white paper on 5G — watch for that after our 5G Technology Customer Event on Oct. 3.

What’s Next for Government 5G

As new technology comes to market, we work with agencies and industry to pair the right wireless solutions to mission needs — focusing on wireless solutions security and cost efficiency.

Schedule 70 SIN 132-53 shows the robust capabilities we bring to the government market:

  • Wireless Carrier Services
  • End Point infrastructure
  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS), a.k.a Device as a Service (DaaS)
  • Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
  • Mobility Backend as a Service (MBaaS)
  • Telecommunications Expense Management System (TEMS)
  • Mobile Application Vetting
  • Mobile Threat Protection
  • Mobile and Identity Management
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

10/3 GSA 5G Event

To learn more about the possibilities of 5G, join us on Oct. 3 at the GSA 5G Government Symposium. We’ll cover:

  • how 5G can help agencies meet their mission,
  • the challenges facing government as we implement this new technology, and
  • how 5G will integrate into today’s networks.

View the agenda. Join us online or in person.

Stay Tuned to 5G

For our next 5G post, we’ll explore how unlicensed and lightly licensed spectrum could affect campus networks.

Until then, 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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EIS and IT Modernization: Foundation for the Future

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on August 6, 2019

As IT professionals, we know what it means for an organization to be data-driven. The infrastructure on which that data moves is critical to the government’s mission success and the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract will serve as the foundation for public-sector technological transformation.

Modern Telecom: Far From Phones

Telecommunications services enable practically all information technology (IT) in every government agency. The establishment, maintenance, and modernization of communications networks are key components of our government’s ability to meet its mission.

We support agencies’ global missions with a complete spectrum of IT and telecommunications services, infrastructure and equipment.

We offer:

  • access services
  • accessible telecommunications
  • managed network services
  • network applications
  • satellite services and applications
  • telecommunications services
  • wireless and mobile networking

We bring together our technical and acquisition experts, leading industry partners, and agency specialists to offer these services efficiently, effectively, and at a lower cost to taxpayers.

The Future is Flexible

IT modernization is a national priority with bipartisan support from Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Each federal agency is at a different point in the network modernization process and can deploy new technology at different rates.

New IT modernization guidance and legislation, combined with market changes and citizen expectations, are driving the demand for transformative technological change at unprecedented levels.

EIS: Made for Modernization

EIS is a catalyst for IT modernization. To expand bandwidth, EIS will help agencies move away from time-division multiplexing technology to more modern services. It will replace legacy voice services with Voice over Internet Protocol or unified communications. Rather than having each agency design and operate multiple parts of a network, EIS will use cost-saving managed services, such as cloud migration.

EIS will also embed security components directly in network services purchases, thus helping agencies proactively defend their systems. EIS is the only federal contract to include both Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity requirements as well as OMB policy directives.

Simplicity Brings Savings

Under EIS, agencies can structure their acquisitions from a single source, dramatically simplifying the process. This EIS feature promotes cost savings through aggregated federal buying, which can deliver a monthly savings of 16-21%.

To open opportunities for small businesses and foster competition, EIS relaxed its geographical coverage requirement and reduced the number of mandatory services.

As a Best-in-Class solution, EIS will ensure customers receive pre-vetted and secure solutions to protect their systems, data, and people.

The Big Picture

As agencies transition to EIS, they get a major opportunity to address legacy systems and meet their network-related IT Modernization requirements using a more holistic, strategic approach. Migrating to cloud infrastructure, enhanced mobility, automation, satellite communications, and cybersecurity are common topics among agency officials and policymakers.

But for an agency to truly modernize, the practice of simply replacing legacy equipment and adhering to traditional, fixed-price contracting models—the so-called, “Like for Like” approach—will not be enough. We now plan and pay for technology according to the services we consume, not just the products we acquire.

EIS was designed to allow agencies to use this consumption-based pricing model, so they can access new and emerging technologies as their needs evolve and opportunities arise.

Collaboration is Key

EIS represents a landmark collaboration among GSA, federal agencies, and industry innovators on a simple, flexible solution. Just recently, we hosted over 120 customers at our second annual EIS conference. The event allowed IT leaders, telecommunications providers, contracting officers, project managers, and finance specialists to meet and learn how the EIS transition will support their IT modernization goals.

Roadmap

In December 2018, we announced we were extending the current legacy telecommunications contracts to 2023. Agencies have less than four more years to transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Roadmap shows important milestones, namely:

  • September 30, 2019: Deadline for awarding EIS task orders.
  • March 31, 2020: Use of the extended contracts will be limited for agencies who have not made task order awards.
  • March 31, 2022: 90% of agencies’ telecom inventory must be off expiring contracts
  • May 31, 2023: Current contracts expire.

Have questions about how to accelerate your progress in meeting these milestones? Connect with our customer support team at gsa.gov/nspsupport.

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

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Way Beyond Wireless: Planning for 5G

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on July 30, 2019

Every generation of wireless technology has enabled new business models, increased our connectivity, and changed our lives in unimaginable ways. 5G is poised to do the same. 5G enabled devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow huge numbers of sensors and devices to gather incredible amounts of  data and transmit the data at remarkable speeds over wide distances. We are going to see a new wave of information enabled in government and industry. Instead of your phone or laptop acting as the processor, it will sit inside the edge of the 5G infrastructure. This will allow things like driverless vehicles and telemedicine.

5G will provide the digital infrastructure that will shape the quality of life of most of the earth’s population. Yes, it will load web pages and play videos on your phone 10 to 20 times faster than 4G. Mobile devices will spend less time processing data, which will consume less power, which will result in extended battery life. But these are little advances compared to what is possible.

The true potential is how the technology can quickly transfer data between devices in lots of different ways. That ability means it will replace cable and WiFi networks in homes, offices, campuses, military bases, and even whole cities.

What does 5G mean for government?

Because it enables the IoT, 5G is one of the more important emerging technologies. Thanks to 5G’s flexibility, every level of government will use 5G as IoT enters the public sector. Consider these applications:

  • Replacing outdated telecommunications and network technology in public buildings and facilities. 
  • Allowing for advanced automation and security processes at logistics centers and the nation’s ports. 
  • Supporting augmented and virtual reality (VR) applications in our national laboratories. 
  • Monitoring regional and interstate entities power grids to keep pace with fluctuating demands.
  • Providing traffic control and managing fleets of self-driving vehicles in cities.

U.S. policy considers 5G a strategic national asset, and the legislative and executive branches are actively working to reallocate spectrum for its use. The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) is developing standards and testing 5G technologies. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is focusing on cybersecurity threats unique to 5G. Recently, the White House issued an executive order to proactively create and secure commercial supply chains in a 5G future. 

How can my agency get 5G?

We are uniquely positioned to fulfill our customers’ needs and help prepare for 5G implementation.

GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract and Schedule 70’s SIN 132-53 Wireless Mobility Solutions both cover 5G services and infrastructure. Alliant 2 GWAC and Connections II cover infrastructure only.

What’s next?

We’ll be explaining how 5G works, how it will be deployed, and the steps we’re taking to deliver it to our customers. We’ll soon release a white paper outlining our approach to 5G implementation.

On October 3, we’re hosting a 5G Technology Customer Event, where we’ll address how 5G makes concepts like network slicing and edge computing possible. Email wireless@gsa.gov to get on the invite list.  

Join the conversation on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn.

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GSA Replaces Expiring FSSI Wireless BPAs with Newly Enhanced Wireless SIN

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on February 25, 2019

It is now even easier to purchase wireless services through Schedule 70.

The newly enhanced FSSI Wireless program is now available to replace the FSSI Wireless BPAs, which expired in November 2018. Due to the success of the original FSSI Wireless program, we’re continuing to offer this solution to our customers. It’s the same FSSI Wireless program you knew and loved, just better!

In this new FSSI Wireless program, agencies will be able to purchase mobility services directly from Schedule 70 using a newly developed RFQ Generator tool on the Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) page in the Acquisition Gateway. The intuitive web-based tool supports customer ease of ordering against the schedule. The RFQ Generator tool helps users input voice and data requirements into a downloadable RFQ template for schedule vendors. 

The project is part of GSA’s continued work as a contributing member of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) MSCT. The MSCT is a cross-government group that fosters effective collaboration and advancements among government IT acquisition professionals.  

11 Service Categories

  • Wireless Carrier Services
  • Other Mobility End-Point Infrastructure – Mobility infrastructure
  • Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
  • Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
  • Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS)
  • Telecom Expense Management (TEM)
  • Mobile Application Vetting
  • Mobile Threat Protection (MTP)
  • Mobile Identity Management
  • Internet of Things (IoT) and
  • Other/Mobile Services

Features and Benefits

The purpose and benefits of updating SIN 132-53, Wireless Mobility Solutions are:

  • Address the federal government’s growing need for advanced mobile solutions to include security, mobility management, application development, application vetting, and integrated services.
  • Enhance IT Schedule 70 offerings under SIN 132-53 for increased convenience and rapid access to commercially available wireless and advanced mobility solutions.
  • Provide industry partners the opportunity to differentiate their mobility solutions from other IT-related offerings.
  • Meet the needs of government agencies to make strategic decisions and bring the full value and benefits of mobility category management to government.
  • Organize and categorize mobility solutions in a manner that simplifies and standardizes the acquisition of these solutions that lowers the total cost of ownership for agency customers.

GSA’s Mobility Team continues its work to increase savings in the mobile space through the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI). GSA customers saved on average up to 30% in 2017 through FSSI Wireless. To replace the BPAs, GSA’s Mobility Team worked with the MSCT to develop a Request for Quote (RFQ) generator that agencies can use to procure wireless services in a flexible, simple way.

The MSCT looks to give agencies the tools they need to implement cellular service plans and devices more effectively and efficiently through:

  • Unified acquisition: Consolidates the number and variety of dispersed wireless contracts to reduce life-cycle management costs and drive better volume discounts.
  • Improved information management: Simplifies service plan management and enables centralized access to standardized usage data to easily identify opportunities for cost savings.
  • Center of excellence: Uses best practices and collaboration across agencies and the entire community of stakeholders to optimize performance and increase value.

We couldn’t be more proud of the work our GSA Mobility Team is doing with the MSCT. This collaboration really sets the bar for cross-agency/industry engagement and will make a real difference in the day-to-day mobile operations of government.

To learn more, please visit the Wireless Mobility Solutions (132-53) page on GSA.gov.

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Achieving IT Modernization Through EIS

Posted by Kay Ely
on May 22, 2018

Author: Crystal Philcox, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, IT Category

The federal government is in the middle of an unprecedented opportunity to modernize and create an infrastructure that works to help agencies deliver services to today’s workforce and the American people — that means more reliable, efficient, and mobile networks.

The Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract is specifically designed to help agencies achieve this goal. With its recent Best-In-Class (BIC) designation, agencies can leverage the contract to meet established goals to modernize their networks and deliver better, faster services as well as gain significant cost savings.

EIS Has Everything You Need: Complete Solution for IT Modernization

EIS isn’t just a telecom contract, its a total solution to help agencies modernize. Agencies benefit through cost savings and the ability to tap a common contract instead of cobbling together their own solutions. EIS can be used for managed services, security and telecom services — it has everything agencies need to modernize their networks.

Modernized networks mean higher bandwidth, better performance, and more network reliability. And, bandwidth is dramatically cheaper in modernized networks. Furthermore, modernized networks can embed cybersecurity features that adapt to changing threat models.

The potential savings with fully taking advantage of modernizing networks using EIS are huge. Because of the consolidated buying power we have under GSA contracts, we realized a savings with EIS prices that average 21 percent lower than our current contract, Networx. That’s real money that agencies can put back into application modernization or cloud migration.

To achieve the advantages of EIS through modernization, agencies should consider the following keys to success:

  • Make transition a high priority. Treat it as a critical project.
  • Modernize, wherever possible.
  • Budget for transition and modernization.
  • Ask for GSA’s help, as needed.

Next Steps

There are several opportunities for both agencies and industry to engage in this continuing conversation. Throughout the lead-up to transition, GSA has provided extensive assistance to help agencies prepare for this and we conducted educational sessions on how to structure solicitations so modernized networks can be purchased efficiently.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve spent more time with agencies listening to their concerns. What we heard was that a lot of agencies want to modernize, but need more time. We are interested in hearing from any agency that is experiencing that, or any, concern.

We’ve held workshops to help industry share their perspectives on how agencies can modernize legacy enterprise networks. Also, we’ve collected agencies’ forecasts of solicitations and provided detailed timelines to EIS contractors to help them plan their response strategies.

Industry has a significant customer agency outreach effort. EIS suppliers have scheduled numerous meetings with agencies to showcase their capabilities and how they can assist in modernization efforts. Agencies are also hosting “industry days” for the EIS supplier community.

In partnership with government, ACT-IAC has established the Transition/Modernization Working Group. All EIS suppliers and a significant number of agency representatives make up this important initiative.

On May 24, GSA is hosting a “Meet Your EIS Industry Partners Day” at GSA Headquarters. This will provide another avenue for agencies to meet and discuss their individual mission needs with EIS suppliers. We want agencies to come with their ideas about what they want to achieve through network modernization and talk to the EIS industry partners about those ideas and how best to get them done. Register here!

And on June 19, ACT-IAC is hosting an IT Modernization Conference focusing on how the transition from Networx offers an opportunity to transform and modernize legacy network architecture.

We encourage you to join us at these events and look forward to hearing your ideas on modernizing networks.

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

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GSA’s Enterprise Mobility Program Continues to Drive Agency Benefits and Savings

Posted by Kay Ely
on March 6, 2018

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

GSA continues to help shape governmentwide IT acquisition through our strong industry partnerships and collaboration with agencies across government. The operating principles of “Standardization, Simplification, and Savings” guide how we talk about, develop requirements for, and buy mobile products and services.

One of our more productive efforts is the governmentwide Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT). This cross-government group fosters effective collaboration and advancements among government IT and acquisition professionals through a membership base of almost 200 agency and 80 industry participants. Through the MSCT, we’re working with these stakeholders to improve and streamline how the government buys mobile technologies.

Established in 2015, the team consists of the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State, as well as the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Shaping Governmentwide IT Acquisition

The MSCT’s mission is to advance adoption of mobile technology to support an agile and evolving government workforce. MCST helps government agencies learn from each other how to most effectively meet their missions and do their work securely, anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

The MSCT gives agencies the tools they need to implement various aspects of mobility more effectively and efficiently through:

  • Unified acquisition: Consolidates the number and variety of dispersed contracts to reduce life-cycle management costs and drive better volume discounts via existing government-wide solutions.
  • Improved information management: Simplifies management and enables centralized access to requirements, standards, and data to easily identify opportunities for cost savings.
  • Center of excellence: Uses best practices and collaboration across stakeholders to optimize performance and increase value.

GSA worked with the MSCT to build a library of resources available to government agencies. These new resources help federal buyers address a broad scope of mobile technologies and capabilities to include:

  • telecommunications expense management (TEMs)
  • virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI)
  • mobile device/enterprise mobility management
  • mobile identity management
  • mobile backend, and
  • mobile threat protection

Each resource includes a technology definition, service overview, and buying guidance that can be used for education, solution design, and acquisition support. Consolidating these resources will help agencies develop a mobile strategy that supports their purchasing.

GSA’s Contracts Drive Savings and Growth

GSA’s Mobility Team continues to increase savings for buyers in the mobile space through the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI). On average, GSA customers saved 26% in 2017 through FSSI Wireless solutions.

To drive more savings across the mobile category, we’re extending the FSSI Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for six more months to November 2018.

This extension will help government agencies finalize their agreements this fiscal year.

As we plan for the next generation of buying tools for the wireless space, rather than develop a replacement for the current BPAs, GSA’s Enterprise Mobility Program is working with the MSCT to develop a Request for Quote (RFQ) engine that agencies can use to buy wireless services through existing contracts in a flexible, cost-effective, smart, and simple way.

We’re proud that federal agencies are getting great savings and results through the FSSI Wireless solution. We’re also thrilled with the work our GSA Enterprise Mobility Program is doing with the MSCT. The MSCT has set the bar for successful and productive cross-agency and industry engagement, demonstrating that government-industry partnerships and collaboration across agencies can help federal agencies meet their mission in government’s day-to-day mobile operations.

Want to know more? Visit the MSCT website.

Have questions or want to provide feedback? Contact wireless@gsa.gov.

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

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

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

A Look Back at 2016

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

Simplifying, Standardizing, and Buying in Volume

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

Managing Telecom as a Subcategory

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

Engaging Agencies and Industry

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

Optimizing Telecom Use and Spend

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

Providing a Range of Purchasing Options

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

Enhancing Agencies’ Understanding of Telecom Purchases

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

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

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

2017 Telecom Priorities

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

The EIS Transition Challenge Government-wide

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

Mobility Savings and Enhanced Management

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

Demands for Bandwidth, Security, and Satellites

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

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

Learn More about Telecom Solutions

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

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

 

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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.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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