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.

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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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Navigating the Future of Mobile Services

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 15, 2016

(This blog post reflects my perspective as the government-wide IT Category Manager)

Today, the federal government spends more than $1 billion annually on mobile services. An agile and evolving federal workforce is driving an ever-increasing need for agencies to have the ability to meet their missions, and do their work securely anywhere, anytime, and on any device in order to serve U.S. citizens.

Fast-changing mobile technology and increased demand are putting pressure on agencies to determine how best to acquire, maintain, and manage mobile resources. So government needs a mobile plan that looks ahead. And that’s just what the Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) aims to accomplish.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Category Management Leadership Council (CMLC) set up the MSCT to develop and implement a government-wide strategic plan to increase efficiency and drive savings related to acquiring government mobile services. The cross-agency team looks at how agencies can best navigate the future of mobile services. OMB, GSA, and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State lead the MSCT.

While they’re taking input from agencies across government and industry, the MSCT has already accomplished several goals, such as establish strategic objectives, prepare mobile device guidance, make plans for a mobile brokerage feasibility study, incorporate industry partners’ insights and expertise, and are taking on mobile reporting and data management.

MSCT Roadmap and Guidance

OMB’s August Mobile Services and Devices memo (M-16-20) assigns several responsibilities to the MSCT, and the first three are now complete. Documents from these tasks are posted on the Telecommunications Hallway in the Acquisition Gateway.

1. Mobile Services Roadmap – The MSCT published the roadmap so agencies can develop mobile tools and solutions that will conform to Category Management principles and best meet agency and user needs. It focuses on general-use needs similar for most agencies (also known as core commodity services). It also identifies another primary needs segment that requires customizing based on agency and mission. This second segment focuses on mobile applications and complex mobile solutions such as security and ID credentialing.

2. Mobile Device Procurement and Management Guidance – This guidance helps agencies select, procure, manage, and dispose of mobile devices. It focuses on what agencies can do to more efficiently manage devices, reduce costs, simplify processes, improve contractual terms, and meet government green initiatives.

3. Mobile Services Brokerage Model Feasibility Study: Project and Implementation Plan – This document explains how the MSCT will conduct a feasibility study for possible use of a brokerage approach to agency mobile acquisition efforts. Typically, smaller agencies have fewer in-house resources. The brokerage approach could support them by providing external support. MSCT’s goal is that no agency be left behind while improving management of mobility government wide.

MSCT Strategic Objectives

The MSCT has three primary objectives:

  1. Standardization – Define a common set of plans, devices, terms, conditions, and other mobility attributes that apply across contractors and agencies to drive competition based on quality and price.
  2. Simplification – Make it easier for agencies to acquire and manage mobility services and devices.
  3. Savings – Further reduce costs for wireless carrier services and other mobility category services.

Insights from Industry Partners

MSCT solicited and incorporated industry partners’ insights and feedback. In response to the RFI issued earlier this year, wireless carriers, systems integrators, and technology leaders gave their list of priorities:

  • Simplify core product offerings to reduce complexity and cost
  • Support ancillary service offerings and have flexibility to use open market offerings to streamline procurements
  • Have standard terms and conditions that require less negotiation and have already been validated across the federal government
  • Use self-service ordering, service options, and a suite of templates to increase speed and quality of fulfilling orders and responding to bids
  • Allow the ability to add new services to contracts in days and weeks, rather than months

Common Data Structures, Enhanced Data Collection

The MSCT is also tackling mobile reporting and data management. Billing records contain data to assess if agencies are overpaying or under-using mobile resources. Sharing data will strengthen our ability to make intelligent and informed decisions at the agency level and government-wide. In the future, we will focus on data quality and accuracy to help the IT category deliver strategies that maximize value and savings for the government.

Continuing to Collaborate

The MSCT is ready to work with agencies and industry in fiscal 2017 to improve and streamline mobility acquisition. Want to know specifics? Read the Strategic Roadmap.

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

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

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IT Solutions Navigator Gets a New Look

Posted by Mary Davie
on October 5, 2016

Our team here at GSA’s Integrated Technology Services (ITS) continuously strives to provide world-class value for government agencies. One of the ways we do this is by providing electronic tools (e-tools) to help agencies improve management of procurement transactions, place orders, or learn more about business services and products. Moreover, our e-tools make it easier for government — federal, state, local, tribal and other eligible purchasers — to buy IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions online.

We just made it a whole lot easier for agencies to select the best acquisition solution to meet their unique requirements from GSA’s broad array of IT offerings by launching our new IT Solutions Navigator.

The IT Solutions Navigator, first released in August 2013, has been redesigned to help acquisition professionals find and evaluate GSA’s IT and telecommunications solutions. In fact, we improved the overall functionality so it’s easier for potential buyers and program managers to choose the IT solutions and services that best fit their acquisition requirements.

Our original user base gave a thumbs up

Over the summer we conducted usability testing. We wanted to learn from our current users about the site’s overall functionality and level of usefulness when it comes to meeting their specific needs. Based on the initial feedback, our current users gave a thumbs up! on the IT Solutions Navigator’s new look and feel:

  • “I like how [IT Solutions Navigator] matches the best GSA contracts with my needs and simplifies what would otherwise be a very complex task to perform.”
  • “I like the contract comparison matrix. It makes it much easier to compare multiple contracts.”
  • “It was easy to navigate throughout the site. I really like the print [and] save view — it has a lot of useful information laid out nicely.”
  • “The system is also very fast and responsive. Overall this tool simplifies the market research process in a very straight forward simplistic way.”
  • “You’ve covered a lot of areas and somehow made a tool that is easy to use and very useful.”
  • “The new [IT Solutions Navigator] looks like a major improvement from the previous site.”

Aside from the fact the IT Solutions Navigator makes it easier for acquisition professionals to select the best solutions from GSA’s broad array of IT offerings, we also:

  1. Improved the review and selection experience;
  2. Optimized the search results to tailor IT and telecommunications solutions; and
  3. Increased best option identification.

Improved acquisition professionals’ ability to review and selection experience. The new IT Solutions Navigator gives agency acquisition professionals the ability to identify and evaluate appropriate acquisition vehicles to meet IT requirements. For instance, on the new site users can access ordering guidelines and other online resources for assistance, as well as easily compare multiple GSA IT contract vehicles in order to select which solution will best meet their needs. It’s also easier to register and to use Navigator on mobile.

Optimized the search results to tailor IT and telecommunications solutions. It gives agencies expanded acquisition decision support capabilities for all levels of government: federal, state, local, and tribal government. For instance, the site presents users with a refined set of GSA IT contract vehicles based on their acquisition requirements and priorities, and even will rank the available contracts in order to easily determine which GSA IT Solution will best meet the customer needs.

Increased best-option identification. Finally, it gives users more resources and real-time one-on-one support online via the National Customer Support Center Live Chat.

Other enhancements

Users can use the IT Solutions Navigator tool to:

  • Reduce acquisition lead time through streamlined access to GSA’s IT product, service, and solution offerings;
  • Search for IT solutions based on keyword: Product Service Code, Federal Supply Code, Special Item Number, or North American Industry Classification System code;
  • Identify Green IT product/service categories available to help agencies meet their sustainability goals;
  • Save and view previous contract match searches upon future visits to the system; and
  • Link to information about contract vehicles and assisted services, as well as other resources, to include ordering guidelines, eTools, and Section 508 assistance.

Acquisition Gateway

Both the IT Solutions Navigator and Acquisition Gateway are tools we offer government to help find the best IT solutions and services online. The IT Solutions Navigator solves an immediate need for an automated decision support tool to help agencies narrow down the choices of acquisition solutions available through GSA IT contracts based on their own unique criteria. The Acquisition Gateway is rapidly developing new capabilities to offer agencies state-of-the art tools for conducting research across all government enterprise contracts. Together, they support our government’s IT acquisition requirements.

You can send your questions or feedback to:

Information Technology Customer Service Center (ITCSC)
Phone: (855)ITaid4U (482-4348)
Email: ITCSC@gsa.gov
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Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.
Learn more about GSA’s e-Tools here.

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Agency Mobile Resources at the Ready following OMB Memo

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 7, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements. Acquisition solutions include Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – EIS (the future replacement for Networx), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Wireless (FSSI-W), and the Federal Relay Service.

Many of you are aware that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Mobile Services and Devices memo on August 4, 2016. The intent is to vastly enhance acquisition and management of mobile services and devices across government.

Resources and Tools Are Available to Help Agencies

Agencies saw an early draft of the memo and now that it’s final, it’s a great time to review resources available to support every agency in achieving the goals set forth by and in the spirit of the OMB memo.

Leverage Government-wide Acquisition Strategies – Resource number one is the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution. It gives agencies a variety of service plan and device options from leading national wireless carriers. Information about the program and how to order is available on the GSA website.

Another resource is GSA’s Wireless Economic Model downloadable Excel-based spreadsheet to give agencies a rough order of magnitude concerning your estimated costs and savings when using new wireless service plans. In addition, a Wireless Guide is available to help agencies move from existing contracts and carriers with step-by-step instructions. You can also access a User’s Guide, FSSI Wireless Ordering Template, and ordering instructions. For more resources and templates, visit the Enterprise Mobility Resources web portal.

Optimize Plan Pricing and Device Refresh Schedules – When it comes to OMB’s directive to optimize pricing, the GSA mobile solution has a strong three-year track record of success in optimizing plans and cost savings. About 85% of defense and civilian cabinet-level agencies are using FSSI Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), achieving a government total $29 million savings compared to prior rates since the May 2013 FSSI-W award. Agencies that have moved to the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution find average cost savings of 27% compared to previous wireless service costs. These agencies pay on average $14 less per unit per month. As a reminder, the BPA published prices differ from the actual service prices agencies have negotiated when using the FSSI-W BPAs so please check with us to get prices paid information when you are making comparisons. You’ll find that it’s hard to beat the prices we’ve achieved for the features in the service plans offered.

Carriers include devices at no cost with service plans and users have a choice of devices with each service plan. In accordance with OMB’s guidance, previous generation devices are typically equally capable of meeting government requirements and can be acquired at significantly lower prices. Agencies also have the option to buy service plans for government-furnished equipment (GFE) and user-owned devices.

Scheduling device refreshes is flexible too. No-cost device refreshes happen based on commercially available cycles of 10 to 20 months, although agencies can determine a refresh schedule that works best for their users.

Baseline Agency Usage and Quarterly Reports – Once an agency uses the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution, the built-in requirements for carriers to provide usage reports will assist in agency quarterly reporting. These reports can help agencies to analyze usage and optimize mobile service levels, including identifying and terminating unused (or zero-use) devices and services. The pooling option for data and minutes saves dollars for agency customers by allowing agency high-volume users to leverage purchased and unused minutes and data from lower volume users.

Optimize Agency Requirements – The OMB memo also addresses actions agencies must take to consolidate contracts, track and improve inventory of mobile devices, and pool mobile services to avoid overage charges. Depending on size, agencies using the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution can choose to consolidate wireless contracts at the bureau level and then into one enterprise-wide agency contract. Smaller agencies might fully consolidate initially without phases.

Reach Out for Personal Assistance

For more assistance, GSA has an Enterprise Mobility Team that is happy to help with any questions you have or support you need. You can contact us toll-free at (855) ITaid4U (482-4348), or contact our Enterprise Mobility Team directly through kelly.adams@gsa.gov, richard.jones@gsa.gov or jon.johnson@gsa.gov.

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

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Recent Network Services Updates Benefit Agencies, Suppliers

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 16, 2016

Now that the launch of Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) is just around the corner, some recent Network Services updates will benefit both federal agencies and telecom suppliers.

In July, we unified 11 Regional Network Service programs and one program office into a single national Network Services program.

In the past, GSA’s regional and national network services’ offices provided separate solutions — regional programs provided local telecom services and the national program office provided long-distance telecom services to agencies. Each region managed regional-based contracts with different fees that provided similar services. Agencies made buying decisions geographically and GSA provided local personnel in each region to support local and long-distance ordering and service delivery.

This made sense when lines between ordering local service and long-distance service were more distinct, but it’s not true today.

Now, our agency customers will have one person to go to for their regional and long-distance (wide-area network) telecommunications.

What to Expect Going Forward

Service delivery representatives have begun to reach out to agency customers to provide guidance on local service ordering. You will see:

  • A standard single fee for local service
  • One mailbox for service requests (tsr@gsa.gov) and one for trouble reporting (fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov)
  • No more regional boundaries for Network Services
  • No more service delivery inconsistencies across the program
  • Consolidated order writing and billing departments means a central group will help you with any billing/inventory questions or disputes
  • One group of pricing and technical experts will help gather agency requirements
  • Beginning in FY 2017, consolidated agency-facing website and operational budget

When EIS is awarded, agencies and suppliers will also have:

  • Fewer contracts to manage
  • Easier-to-understand offerings, with a streamlined acquisitions portfolio
  • One portfolio of contracts with
    • consistent offerings and pricing,
    • transparent fee structures,
    • a deeper field of technical expertise,
    • consolidated operations, and
    • standard procedures

New EIS Transition Website

At the same time we’re realigning, another big priority remains transition planning to move services to EIS. The EIS transition must be complete by May 2020.

To meet this deadline, we need you to be working now on EIS transition planning.
To help you with this effort, we have:

What You Can Do Now

With realignment off and running, and transition planning in full swing, here’s what you can do:

  • Stay tuned for your new local ordering instructions
  • Work with your GSA customer service representative
  • Submit telecom service requests to tsr@gsa.gov
  • Send telecom trouble reporting to fas.phonehelp@gsa.gov
  • Confirm your agency’s telecom inventory now and have the agency EIS transition plan completed and to GSA by October 2016

Once GSA awards EIS, federal agencies will begin to issue task and service orders and start moving telecom services to EIS starting in early 2017.

If you need assistance or have any questions about agency transition, please email ITCSC@gsa.gov or call (855) 482-4348.

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

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Updates on Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 15, 2016

We at GSA, customer agencies, and industry partners have been working diligently to prepare for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) — the 15-year, multi-billion-dollar contract that can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications while improving government efficiency and effectiveness and saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Our road to EIS has been a collaborative, open, and transparent journey, and we’re almost there.

We want to be sure you’re aware of the next steps and when you can expect each one.

Transition Readiness

We’ve been talking over the past year about how important it is for your agency–and others–to prepare for transition, including confirming final inventories and delivering your transition plan to GSA by October 2016. The goal is for agencies to be ready to start transitioning and do fair opportunity competitions for EIS task orders early in calendar year 2017 after EIS is ready for agency use.

With EIS just around the corner, you need to already be planning to move services to EIS now. All agency transitions will need to be completed by 2020, and it’s going to be complicated.

To meet this deadline, think of us as your business partners. We hope you’ve already started to plan. Download a copy of GSA’s EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact community site. If you need help with agency transition or other matters, reach out to us at the IT Customer Service Center at (855) 482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.

Proposal Evaluation Status and Discussions with Offerors

We are evaluating offers submitted on February 22, 2016 in response to the EIS Request for Proposal (RFP), issued in October 2015.

On July 28, 2016, we posted on the GSA EIS Interact site that we planned to contact offerors by mid-August. We are finalizing the information we intend to discuss with offerors.

Award Date and EIS Availability for Use

We want to award EIS as quickly as possible and plan to do so in early calendar year 2017. EIS can transform government infrastructure and telecommunications for the next decade.

Since we take this responsibility seriously, we’re being diligent, thoughtful, and thorough to maximize value for the government, industry, and the American people.

We remain committed to collaborating and working openly with you now and going forward.

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

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Focusing on the EIS Customer Experience

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 30, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of acquisition vehicles that provide government agencies with a diverse set of telecommunications solutions, including Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, and the Federal Relay Service.

On June 22, the General Services Administration (GSA) joined more than 200 representatives from across government and industry for a dynamic, customer-centric discussion about next-generation telecommunications under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), a comprehensive solution-based vehicle to address all aspects of federal agency information technology telecommunications, and infrastructure requirements.

EIS will provide mission-critical telecommunications infrastructure to the federal government for the next 15 years. It replaces the Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System (WITS) 3, and GSA Regional telecommunications services contracts that expire in May 2020.

This event allowed us to hear from agency officials on a wide range of topics, including:   

  • What they need from EIS
  • How important it is for each agency to find opportunities when transitioning telecom services under current contracts to EIS
  • How they will meet the aggressive transition challenges

I’d like to take this opportunity to share more of the valuable feedback we received during the event. The customer-focused themes and advice give EIS stakeholders across government and industry more insight as we collectively move to EIS.

Top Customer Takeaways

  1. Every federal agency is affected – more than 150 agencies and 60 Tribal organizations
  2. Agencies need to have a sense of urgency, focusing continuously on preparing for their complete transition until finished
  3. The EIS program holds opportunities for agencies, including modernizing, securing and transforming agency infrastructure. Think transformation as a key goal, rather than simply transition to the new acquisition vehicle.  This means approaching EIS transition as an opportunity to transform agency telecom operations and add mission value.
  4. Top priorities for agencies include:
  • Complete transition before the current contracts expire in 2020
  • Increase bandwidth demands
  • Meet agency cybersecurity requirements (cyber is built into EIS)
  • Focus on network modernization
  • See both short and long-term cost savings
  • Pay only for what the agency uses
  • Improve performance at lower cost

  5. Agencies are driving demand, not the EIS acquisition vehicle

  • For example, due to local area networks increasingly connected to wide-area telecommunications networks over Ethernet interfaces (that time-division multiplexing interfaces were challenged to provide), demand drove Ethernet transport to be a mandatory service

  6. To have a successful transition, each agency needs an accurate inventory and strong senior leadership commitment

  • Inventory includes everything from traditional long distance to fully redundant, mission-critical, secure VPNs
  • More than seven million inventory items across 90 regional and eight Networx contracts must move

  7. Engage with GSA early, get the agency contracting officer on board early, and put agency governance in place

  8. Agency Transition Plans are due to GSA in October 2016

  9. Download a free copy of GSA’s just-released EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact site

Industry Takeaways

  1. Industry needs to prepare for the anticipated tsunami of EIS task order requests;  Partners, teams, and processes have to be ready to go
  2. Agencies will be looking for high-quality proposals for task and service orders
  3. EIS wants to deliver tomorrow’s technology today and GSA encourages industry to work with government on ways to make that happen

Common Threads for Everyone

  1. EIS is designed as a flexible and dynamic acquisition vehicle that will require continued collaboration with GSA, government, and industry going forward
  2. All current federal government telecom inventory must be moved to EIS before the end of May 2020 – 47 months from now
  3. EIS will address changing technology needs throughout the life of the acquisition vehicle
  4. The EIS acquisition vehicle is expected to extend into 2031 with continuous technology refresh
  5. Year 2020 is just around the corner. Even though we’re in the midst of the EIS acquisition, we are also planning further into the future. We are updating the NS2020 strategy, which will become the NS2025 strategy

GSA looks forward to continuing this EIS transition customer-centric dialog with our industry and government colleagues. We will continue the conversation on this blog and our GSA EIS Interact community. If you need assistance with agency transition, reach out to us at the IT Customer Service Center at 855-482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.  And again, please download a free copy of GSA’s just-released EIS Transition Handbook from the GSA Interact site.

Thanks to @ACTIAC and @ITAlliancePS  for supporting our June 22nd transition conversation.  The event was hosted by the ACT-IAC Networks and Telecommunications (N&T) Community of Interest (COI),Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), and other industry groups.

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

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Federal Relay Communications Accessibility Services

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 10, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of contracts that provide government agencies with a diverse set of telecommunications solutions, including Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, and the Federal Relay Service.

 

Federal agencies employ many persons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have speech disabilities.

The Federal Relay program offers technologies to remove communication barriers for individuals with disabilities, so they can do their jobs and communicate with coworkers, supervisors, and other stakeholders including the U.S. citizens they serve.

Agencies and tribal governments also use the Federal Relay program for employees with or without disabilities to conduct official business with U.S. citizens who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-challenged.

The program allows federal employees and citizens to communicate through specially-trained communications assistants or video interpreters.

In Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15), 99 federal agencies used Federal Relay services. The business volume for FY15 was $15 million.

Serves Veterans

Federal Relay has become an excellent resource for federal agencies that hire disabled individuals, including veterans who served our nation sometimes at great personal cost.  

When veterans come home, we can’t let obstacles get in their way. Veterans working for the federal government rely on effective and dependable Federal Relay services to perform their jobs and communicate independently.

Trends in Accessible Technologies

Federal Relay services include Relay Conference Captioning (RCC), Video Relay Service (VRS), Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), Captioned Telephone, IP Relay (IP), and Speech-to- Speech.  

RCC is the most commonly used service, followed closely by Captioned Telephone and VRS/VRI. RCC offers real-time closed-captioning. It allows federal workers with disabilities to fully participate in staff meetings, training, webinars, and conference calls.

Captioned Telephone amplifies sound and displays text on a specially designed telephone. It is the service of choice for hard-of-hearing individuals.

VRI allows employees with disabilities to communicate with supervisors and team members immediately and spontaneously via a sign language interpreter. VRI is ideal for interviews, performance reviews, and impromptu discussions with supervisors.

Meets Section 504 Requirements

Many agencies already know Federal Relay supports Rehabilitation Act Section 504 accommodations for employees with disabilities in the workplace.

You can learn more about easy-to-use Federal Relay services by attending a free training session. Contact your agency’s Section 508 Coordinator for assistance setting up an on-site Federal Relay event at your work site. Or you may contact GSA’s Federal Relay Program Manager at patricia.stevens@gsa.gov.

To quickly and easily order services, visit the Federal Relay website. Most Federal Relay services are accessible anywhere in the United States.

image of federal relay words flag_bkgrnd

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

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Government IT Buying New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 11, 2016

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

Time to make our New Year’s resolutions for 2016!

In my last 13 blog posts, we looked at government IT trends for FY15 and what might be ahead in FY16 technology acquisitions for telecommunications, cloud, cybersecurity, mobility/wireless, hardware, software, and small business. We’ve got a good sense of the technology trends.

But how we go about buying the technology is equally important. I recommend these New Year’s resolutions:

  • Use existing government-wide contracts, like those from GSA and other agencies, instead of new and open market contracts.
  • Each time you need IT or telecommunications products, services, or solutions, check out the latest GSA offerings, which we continuously enhance.
  • Use the Acquisition Gateway for market research, to link to existing contracts that offer the IT solution you’re looking for, and to stay informed on best practices.
  • Collaborate across agencies every step of the way.

We can save lots of taxpayer dollars and achieve better acquisition and operational efficiencies with this resolution.

For more information about who we are and what we do, check out the slide presentation posted below.

And be sure to follow and engage us on Twitter @GSA_ITS and on the ITS LinkedIn page we launched last year.

This presentation covers ways to improve the acquisition process for customer agencies, by leveraging existing contracts, using category management and the acquisition gateway, and reducing IT acquisition duplication and costs.
Government IT Buying New Years Resolutions: To Improve What and How You Buy (PDF, 125 KB)

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New Year: New Focus on EIS Transition Planning

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 4, 2016

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

In my last blog post, we talked about the government’s Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) networking trends and activity as evidenced by GSA’s widely used Networx contract.

Last year was also a breakout year for the government’s new telecommunications initiative: Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) acquisition. EIS will be the follow-on contract to replace Networx and regional telecommunications contracts (including WITS 3), which many federal agencies use today. When fully implemented, we expect EIS to:

  • Simplify the government’s process of acquiring information technology and telecommunications products and services
  • Provide cost savings to each agency through aggregated volume buying and price and spend visibility
  • Enable the procurement of integrated solutions
  • Promote participation by small businesses and foster competition
  • Offer a flexible and agile suite of services supporting a range of government purchasing patterns into the future
  • Provide updated and expanded security services to meet current and future government cybersecurity requirements

Government and industry collaborated quite a bit on EIS requirements and planning in FY15. GSA engaged industry, worked with federal partners, held three well-attended industry days, and issued the EIS Request for Proposal (RFP), with proposals due February 22.

Focus on Transition Planning in 2016

Going into 2016, one of the government’s biggest priorities for telecom is planning the transition of services from expiring Networx and regional contracts to EIS.

Validating the current inventory of services on Networx, WITS 3 and other regional contracts requires joint collaboration of GSA, federal agencies, and industry partners.

GSA’s Transition Coordination Center (TCC) completed the initial inventory validation on January 29. We compared multiple data sources and worked with the contractors to match up services and reconcile data.

We  then notified  the agencies on January 29 that the Transition Inventory is ready for their initial confirmation and use in transition planning. Throughout the transition period, GSA will continue working with agencies and industry partners to maintain a valid and current transition inventory for tracking transition progress.

Each agency’s transition inventory consists of “service instances,” which are single records representing each active service that will be impacted by the expiration of the contract it’s on.  By today’s count, there are over seven million service instances that have to be transitioned to EIS before the current contracts expire by May 2020.

Important Steps Agencies Must Take Now

We’ve worked extensively with the agency users of Networx and our regional Local Service Agreements (LSAs) to complete the initial validation of the transition inventory.  These are the steps we’ve followed and guidance given:

  1. Download your agency’s transition inventory from the existing E-MORRIS web application. There is a separate module within E-MORRIS titled “Transition Inventory” that will allow agency users, as authorized by their existing E-MORRIS profile, to see their transition inventory, that will consist of Networx and regional inventory.
  2. Review your transition inventory for completeness and provide feedback to the GSA TCC following the instructions provided by the TCC.
  3. Continue to develop your Agency Transition Plan and continue transition planning. Refer to the EIS webpage for further transition updates and guidance or contact your Technology Service Manager.

Successful inventory validation now will assist agencies with more focused planning in advance of award of the EIS contracts. This will help expedite a smoother transition for each government agency starting next year.

You can reach the TCC by contacting the IT Customer Service Center at 855-482-4348 or ITCSC@gsa.gov.

Are you following ITS on Twitter? If not, join us at @GSA_ITS for updates and to engage us on government IT acquisition topics.

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