FAR Rule Change Makes Buying IT Quicker

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on July 9, 2019

Recent changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) now make it easier for federal agencies to use GSA contract vehicles or assisted acquisition solutions to fulfill their IT needs.

Effective June 5, 2019, GSA, with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), issued a final FAR rule amendment, previously implemented in FAR 17.502-1(a). It uses section 875 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to amend section 865 of the Duncan Hunter NDAA for fiscal year 2019.

In the past, the FAR required agencies to go through an extra step to justify the use of GSA’s IT Schedule 70, Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), or assisted acquisition solutions as the best procurement approach to fulfill IT acquisition needs.

Rule Change Benefits

This FAR rule change removes this step in the acquisition process. Federal customers now face reduced administrative burdens, making it quicker and easier to buy IT solutions through GSA.

Specific impacts of this rule change include:

  1. removing the requirement to justify the best procurement approach if issuing orders against contracts under the GSA Schedules Program such as IT Schedule 70, or through GWACs such as 8(a) STARS 2 and Alliant 2; and
  2. removing the requirement to justify the best procurement approach if using GSA for assisted acquisitions.

End-of-FY Spending

As a result, this rule change removes burdens from federal customers. They can now identify and quickly use GSA IT Category (ITC) contracts and acquisition solutions, especially as they embark on their end-of-year IT spending and acquisition efforts.

What We Offer

Our contracts and acquisition solutions are dedicated to providing federal agencies with a full range of IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions. We maximize customer value and mission productivity.

We support 98% of federal agencies, facilitating more than $24 billion in IT purchases annually. Our customers have saved nearly $2 billion from using our solutions.

Best-in-Class Fair

We currently offer 10 acquisition vehicles that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has labeled as Best in Class (BIC). Our BIC acquisition solutions include hardware, software, telecommunications, and professional services.

Come meet our BIC representatives at OMB’s Best in Class Fair on July 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Sign up now!

To find the contract solution that’s right for you, use our IT Solutions Navigator.

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

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Recent Successes Inspire Our Way Forward

Posted by Kay Ely
on December 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using Innovative Solutions to Achieve Breakthrough Performance

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

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

Helping Agencies Achieve their Missions

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

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

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

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

Shaping Government-wide IT Acquisition Everyday

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

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

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

Paving the Way Forward

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

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

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OMB Marks More GSA Tech Solutions as “Best in Class”

Posted by Kay Ely
on October 30, 2017

GSA’s Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) received some exciting news at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017: five more of GSA’s Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) and one Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA) based on IT Schedule 70 SIN 132-53 have been designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as “Best-in-Class” (BIC).

BIC designations signal to the acquisition community that these vehicles meet rigorous category management performance criteria and confirm that we’re offering solutions and processes necessary to meet government’s IT requirements not just today, but well into the future.

The six new additions to ITC’s BIC offerings are all pre-vetted, governmentwide contract solutions supporting the governmentwide move to mature, market-proven solutions:

With these additions, GSA has a total of eight BIC IT offerings—our Government-wide Strategic Solution (GSS) Laptop/Desktop and IT Schedule 70’s Hardware & Software SINs were part of the first group OMB recognized in the IT category.

We see these new BIC designations, as proof that GSA is developing the programs and contracts that will shape and lead future IT category management efforts. What’s more, they’re evidence that we use taxpayer funds efficiently and productively, enabling our customers to better fulfill their missions.

BIC Benefits

How does BIC benefit government agencies?

BIC contracts are recognized as being “good-for-government” purchasing solutions which should be used by all agencies. To be named BIC, contract vehicles must satisfy five key criteria defined by OMB:

  1. Rigorous requirements definitions and planning processes
  2. Appropriate pricing strategies
  3. Data-driven strategies to change buying and consumption behavior (i.e., demand management)
  4. Category and performance management strategies
  5. Independently validated reviews

BIC GWACs

Alliant, Alliant SB, and VETS 2 GWACs offer fixed-price, cost-reimbursement, labor-hour, and time-and-materials task order types, providing greater flexibility in procuring a broad range of IT services. These solutions provide access to new and emerging technologies designed to help government agencies meet their mission requirements. Our BIC GWACS can also help agencies save between 4 percent and 19 percent on average. Again, GSA expects to award the second iteration of Alliant and Alliant SB (Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB, respectively), by the end of the calendar year.

BIC BPA

Our FSSI Wireless BPAs are based in GSA’s IT Schedule 70 SIN 132-53, which improves the procurement and management of wireless services across government. And the good news is that the market opportunity for government wireless services is currently estimated to be $945 million annually.

Going Forward

These BIC designations let agencies and industry know we are meeting our own high standards of customer service and acquisition expertise. Whether they are using contracts officially recognized as “Best-in-Class” or another solution, our customers and partners can expect the same quality and excellence in all of our products and services. As I wrote in an earlier blog, “We believe a BIC designation is not the end state, but rather an important milestone on a journey to help agencies improve their buying strategies.”

Learn more about GSA’s BIC designations on Acquisition Gateway.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to join the conversation.

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IT Services: Driving Mission Delivery of IT Capabilities, Customer Engagement

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 20, 2017

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Casey Kelley, acting director for the Office of IT Services within ITC, General Services Administration’s (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). As the acting director, Kelley is responsible for a $14+ billion portfolio of contracts that provide federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies with a diverse set of information technology solutions.)

The FAS IT Services portfolio team played a significant role in driving mission delivery of IT capabilities across government during fiscal year (FY) 2016. By providing expertise and procurement support through customer engagement, governmentwide contract vehicles and Best-in-Class (BIC) acquisition solutions, GSA helped government agencies acquire innovative technologies, reduce duplicative enterprise contracts, and improve internal efficiencies.

Customer Engagement is Key to Success

The IT Services team considers customer engagement the key to success, working across government with our agency partners to:

  • Share best practices and ideas
  • Drive IT innovation to help support mission requirements
  • Resolve governmentwide IT challenges (i.e., systems integration through data center optimization)
  • Improve acquisition solutions and availability of data and information

We measure our success directly on agencies’ ability to acquire the best IT solutions and services at competitive pricing to meet mission requirements. Customer and industry feedback is an important tool.  Listening allows us to understand strategic and tactical requirements and offer the right solution. So, whether it’s an IT Schedule 70 solution, a GWAC, or another IT contract or program, we will have the right solution for agencies looking to acquire anything IT.

IT Schedule 70

IT Schedule 70 offers more than 7.5 million products, services, and solutions from more than 4,600 contract holders. We constantly scan the market to ensure we are adding new products and services, adding new innovative companies, and working with federal, state, local and tribal agencies to meet specific needs and demands.

Agencies that choose IT Schedule 70 can boost their return on investment by maximizing their budgets and reducing procurement lead times by up to 50% over open market purchases. Further, in the past two fiscal years, IT Schedule 70 has experienced increased usage by agencies—$14.8 billion in FY 2015 and $15.1 billion in FY 2016 with about half of those purchases were for IT services. And these figures also include state and local government utilization of IT Schedule 70.

GWACs

Because they deliver a broad range of comprehensive, flexible, easy to use, and innovative solutions, government agencies continue to use GWACs for small through very large, complex requirements. Spending for FY 2016 on GSA GWACs was $6.2 billion:

  • 8(a) STARS II – $1.4 billion
  • VETS – $126 million
  • Alliant – $3.4 billion
  • Alliant Small Business – $1.3 billion

Looking Forward: Best-in-Class

For FY 2017, the IT Services team is pursuing Best in Class (BIC) designation for the Alliant GWAC. Best-in-Class is a contracting and acquisition classification used across government to denote contracts that meet rigorous category management performance criteria as defined by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and approved by the Category Management Leadership Council. A BIC designation recognizes these contracts as ‘good-for-government’ purchasing solutions that should be used by all agencies. BIC solutions are designed to meet specific criteria that helps maximize IT value for government agencies. BIC qualities include:

  • Developing contract solutions in partnership with agency customers
  • Applying Category Management principles
  • Maintaining consistent and constant collaboration with government agencies and industry partners
  • Using transactional data to improve product offerings
  • Demonstrating a commitment to small business
  • Using Processes to monitor, improve and report pricing and buying patterns to help agencies make more informed decisions

Over the Horizon

Special Item Number (SINs)

Moving forward, the IT Services team will be focusing their efforts on two of the newer IT Schedule 70 SINs:

  • Health IT SIN (132-56) – includes various Health IT services (e.g., connected health, electronic health records, health information exchanges, Health analytics, Personal health information management, etc.)
  • Cloud SIN (132-40) – includes all cloud services that brings potential efficiency improvements and savings to agencies

The IT Services team will work closely with agencies to ensure the new SINs are meeting government’s needs and to provide training and consulting. They will also continue working with industry to bring more companies into the Schedule 70 program and under the SINs.

The team will also concentrate on the GSA IT Schedule 70 Professional Services SIN (132-51), which is the largest Schedule 70 SIN in terms of dollars. Exploring and applying some of the successful industry-customer collaboration best practices used by the GSA Alliant GWAC program will also help us understand how to leverage the new SINs to their full potential.

Open Market Spend

The IT Services team is also working on developing an “open market spend” model for a repeatable process that accurately identifies task orders originally awarded through open market buys.

Alliant and VETS Next Generation GWACs

Finally, the next generation GSA GWACs (Alliant 2, Alliant 2 Small Business GWACs, and VETS 2) are all expected to be awarded and operational in FY18. Once they are in place, the team will begin performing a broad outreach effort to educate and train customers on these latest offerings.

About IT Services

GSA’s IT Services Subcategory, composed of IT Consulting and IT Outsourcing services, is responsible for a portfolio of contracts and programs providing government agencies with a diverse set of IT solutions. To learn more, please visit our IT Consulting and IT Outsourcing Hallways on the Acquisition Gateway.

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

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GAO Denies Pre-award Protests Against Alliant

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 17, 2017

I am pleased to announce that we are continuing with the evaluation and award (planned for Fall 2017) of GSA’s $50 billion Alliant 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Our decision follows the recent decision by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to deny four companies’ protests to our new source selection methodology and the number of contractors to be awarded.

Alliant 2’s innovative evaluation methodology is characterized as  “highest technically rated, with fair and reasonable price.” It achieves best value under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 15.101 by identifying offerors with the most relevant technical expertise who propose fair and reasonable pricing.  The method was pioneered by GSA’s OASIS (One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services and further developed under the Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTS) and Alliant 2 programs.

In their decision, GAO stated that they found “…no basis in the FAR to object to a proposed source selection process that contemplates award to the highest technically rated offerors without using a tradeoff process.”

GAO further commented that FAR Section 1.102(d) permits reasonable exercise of the contracting officer’s discretion, recognizing that if a procurement strategy is in the government’s best interest, and is not explicitly prohibited, then the innovative procurement process is permissible.

GAO Decision Impact

GSA’s innovative source selection methodology on the Alliant 2 solicitation was directly challenged through several pre-award protests to GAO. However, GAO found that the methodology is valid, not objectionable, and supported by the discretion afforded contracting officers when they use the FAR. This decision affects IT acquisitions significantly.

This unprecedented decision reinforces the fact that government has the flexibility to try new and innovative source selection methodologies, among other things. As a proactive partner with federal agencies, GSA is always willing to try new ways to better serve government and improve mission delivery.

Our goal is to create comprehensive IT solutions available from the very best companies.

Ongoing Partner Engagement

We engaged both government stakeholders and industry partners from the beginning of the procurement process, and conducted extensive acquisition planning and market research to determine how to best structure the Alliant 2 GWACs. We always strive to maximize our collaboration with federal agencies and industry in order to identify the most advantageous structure for our contracts and to incorporate their ideas.

You may also remember a previous blog about Alliant 2 (including Alliant 2 Small Business) describing how much effort the team put into ensuring robust transparency, collaboration, and innovation at each phase of the process, especially during Alliant 2’s pre-solicitation phase.

These outreach efforts included:

  • Establishing an Alliant 2 Interact community with more than 8,000 members,
  • Providing a government-wide reviewed business case on OMB MAX,
  • Conducting meetings/presentations for interested agencies.
  • Coordinating agency customer and industry working groups,
  • Hosting five separate pre-proposal conferences attended by over 1000 people, and
  • Publishing seven Requests for Information (RFIs) through FedBizOpps (FBO) with two official industry days, and two separate fully comprehensive and complete draft Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

I know that the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business contracts will meet the needs of federal agencies for IT services and will include a diverse set of highly qualified industry partners.

Download and read the entire GAO decision.

Read more about Alliant 2/Alliant 2 Small Business and the A2/A2SB Interact Community.

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

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ITS Builds Partnerships Improve Health IT

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 22, 2016

In February 2016, we started a strategic seven-year partnership with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) that represents an estimated $5.4 billion in spend for critical Health IT services and solutions (GSA-DHA Health IT Partnership, 2/4/2016. In just a few short months, it’s already succeeded and proven a model of how we can work across federal agencies to foster collaborative, integrated partnerships to create innovative IT solutions for various mission areas, such as healthcare.

I’m proud to recognize three GSA employees and their DHA counterparts who were recently nominated for the 2016 AFFIRM Leadership Award for their leadership in developing the DHA/GSA Health IT Partnership. The DHA/GSA Health IT Partnership will be recognized and honored at the 2016 AFFIRM Annual Leadership Celebration, Thursday, June 23, 2016.

We continuously strive to grow customer relationships and serve as a trusted advisor to help federal agencies make smarter, more strategic decisions. We work across agencies to foster collaborative, integrated partnerships to not only improve IT acquisition and procurement for our government customers, but also to leverage current IT services and solutions to meet their unique mission and operational requirements.

Jennifer Auble, a customer engagement manager; Larry Hale, director, IT category customer engagement division; and Michael Williams, national account manager with GSA’s Customer Accounts and Research, along with their DHA partners, have worked hard through many political and organizational barriers facing government procurement to achieve a groundbreaking partnership between GSA and DHA that is in the best interests of the federal government and the American taxpayer.

This partnership began when GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and DHA entered into a strategic seven-year partnership representing an estimated $5.4 billion in spend for critical health IT services and solutions. Through this partnership, DHA will direct new health IT procurements to GSA IT contracts, including IT Schedule 70 and the Alliant, Alliant Small Business, 8(a) Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services II (STARS II), and Veterans Technology Services Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (VETS GWAC).

DHA uses these vehicles as the primary means of procuring supplies and services to support their existing and emerging health IT requirements. In addition, DHA has entered into partnership with GSA’s One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) program and with the Assisted Acquisition Services organization.

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

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Improving Government Cybersecurity

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 1, 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/)

As many are aware, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is putting in place tactical and strategic cybersecurity measures in response to threats and events including the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. The General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) is active in this response. In FY15, GSA ITS continued to support government efforts to improve cybersecurity by developing and improving upon the following initiatives:

Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM)

This initiative supports the IT Security Category Management Plan to establish a Supply Chain Risk Management capability to:

  • Develop FAS ITS Cybersecurity SCRM guidance and controls;
  • Conduct contract reviews of IT Schedule 70 vendors;
  • Manage incidents within FAS ITS contracts;
  • Establish and maintain contact with both internal GSA stakeholders and external agencies on cyber incidents; and
  • Maintain awareness of government-wide supply chain policy/trends.

The implementation of a SCRM capability will give customers confidence that our IT products come from original equipment manufacturers, their authorized resellers, or other “trusted” sources. A policy of buying IT products from trusted sources supports a customer’s ability to strengthen their IT security posture.

Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP)

The CSIP directs GSA, in coordination with OMB and DHS, to research contract vehicle options and develop a capability to deploy incident response services that can quickly be leveraged by federal agencies, on a reimbursable basis. ITS is currently working across GSA and with OMB and DHS to do this in accordance with the timeline established by OMB.

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance (CyberIA) Project

As part of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Category Management Initiative, the Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) initiated the Cybersecurity/Information Assurance (CyberIA) Project. The scope of the project is to categorize CyberIA products and services based on the NIST “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity”, which aligns with Executive Order (EO) 13636 “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” and OMB M-16-04 “Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) for the Federal Civilian Government”. It will also allow federal agencies to more easily identify CyberIA products and services, and offer better access to support market research, acquisition planning, and category management.

US Access

GSA’s USAccess program supports improving government cybersecurity by providing over 100 civilian agencies with credentialing solutions: a vital nationwide, economical, secure, shared service facilitating identity credential issuance, maintenance, and lifecycle management. These identity credentials are used to control access to federal information and facilities. The program currently manages over 600,000 active credentials and has been able to significantly reduce the cost of credentialing for customer agencies of all sizes through the shared service platform.

Federal Public-Key Infrastructure (FPKI)

The Federal Public-Key Infrastructure Management Authority (FPKIMA) enables the best and most cost-effective identity management practices for secure physical and logical access, document sharing and communication across the federal government and with the private sector. The FPKIMA enables agencies to achieve their e-government and identity management goals. The FPKI Trust Infrastructure has helped agencies reduce document handling, shipping, and processing costs as well as reducing network intrusions. In addition, the Trust Infrastructure enables interoperability between the over 5 million issued HSPD-12 credentials and other industry approved digital certificates.

Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business Cyber Security Requirements

GSA has baked in minimum-security standards for select contractor systems, the handling of government sensitive data and information technology, contractor security clearances, and homeland security in our GWACs at the contract level. At the task order level, contractors must comply with all GSA IT Security Policies, all applicable GSA and NIST standards and guidelines, and other government-wide laws and regulations for protection and security of information technology, e.g., Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002.

Network Services

Cybersecurity has always been a key aspect of GSA’s Network Services Programs, and we’re stepping it up in the Network Services 2020 era. Today, Networx includes baseline standards and security services, such as the Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS) that currently provides Trusted Internet Connections-compliant managed security services to over 60 agencies.

Tomorrow, NS2020 will enable interoperability and further the migration from legacy technologies to a converged IP environment, ensuring cybersecurity is built in and inherently part of the government’s telecom infrastructure. Programs in the portfolio will specify cybersecurity requirements and include an even broader range of pre-defined, flexible security services.

For the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions acquisition, we worked closely with DHS and ensured state of the art cybersecurity measures are applied to all applicable services. In addition to provisions to facilitate the implementation of EINSTEIN 3A for all agencies, EIS contains MTIPS, a range of Managed Protection Services, and Intrusion Prevention Services. And cybersecurity considerations appear throughout the NS2020 portfolio. For example, the recently launched Mobility 2.0 initiative will encompass managed mobility, including Mobile Device Management and Mobile Application Management, both critical aspects of mobile security.

Moving Forward

ITS is committed to help government as a whole improve cybersecurity. We stand ready to work with agencies to explore ways our IT solutions can help reduce costs, minimize duplications and redundancies, and save money. Our job is to help support you to focus on your missions while maintaining quality and reducing costs.

And remember to follow us on Twitter@GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

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Alliant Enterprise GWAC Update

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 26, 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

The GSA Alliant GWAC had an outstanding year helping agencies achieve their mission through a fast, flexible, and reliable acquisition vehicle. Agencies obligated $2.93 billion dollars to Alliant during FY15, marking Alliant as the largest utilized single GWAC in GSA history by dollar value.

Alliant is GSA’s premier enterprise GWAC, providing flexible access to customized IT solutions from a large, diverse pool of industry partners. Alliant allows for long-term planning of large-scale, complex program requirements. Our success can be attributed to several factors that deserve a closer look.

Alliant FY15 Success Analytics

Since contract inception, more than 63 agencies have used  Alliant and awarded an estimated $22.8 Billion in task order value. Seven new agencies used Alliant for the first time in FY15. This steady growth can be attributed to numerous factors. For example, approximately 870 federal acquisition & program professionals have received the Alliant GWAC Delegation of Procurement (DPA) training – a whopping 248 in FY15 – a 23% increase in buying power! Lastly, during FY15, 96 Statements of Work (SOWs) were submitted for review, which is a 13% increase.

Top Agencies and Vendors

The top three agencies utilizing Alliant (obligated dollars) are the Air Force at $3.49 billion, the Department of Homeland Security at $3.00 billion, and the Army at $2.83 billion. The Department of State comes in at a close fourth at $2.62 billion.

Currently, SAIC leads obligations – over $2.12 billion spread across 44 task orders. Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services follows with $881 million across 12 task orders and Lockheed Martin follows suit with $853 million across 21 task orders.

Strong relationships between Government and Industry

As pre-competed vehicles, GWACs can streamline the acquisition process, which naturally leads to saving time and money. Our pre-competed vehicle consists of 57 exceptionally qualified contractors. The Alliant program office takes pride in the individual relationships that have been created through the years between the Enterprise GWAC division and the outstanding Alliant contractors. To date, 51 out of 57 primes have received awards, exemplifying the diverse pool of credible talent and the constant interaction between government and industry.

The Enterprise GWAC division recently invited representatives from each of the 57 Primes to participate in Alliant’s twice-a-year Program Management Review (PMR). The event spans two days and allows industry to interact with government and participate in collaborative program updates and breakout sessions. Success on projects through Alliant is a three-part partnership – GSA, the procuring agency, and the company performing the work under the task order. We’ve built this model over a number of years with all of our GWACs, and it’s because of that focus and approach that Alliant has served the federal community so well.

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

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Collaborating for Better Government

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 16, 2015

Wikipedia defines “collaboration” as “working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals.” According to the Free Dictionary, collaborating is a partnership, working as a team, or being in concert.   

For GSA, collaboration is more than just a buzzword or standing at a podium talking to stakeholders. It is a dialog a give and take that includes understanding and respecting everyone’s needs, goals, and values.

Successful collaboration happens when everyone is committed to the core principles of trust, understanding, and compromise– and the end result is a better outcome for all parties.

Creating the IT Portfolio of Solutions

At GSA, collaboration is a driving force as we re-shape many of our government-wide programs and contracts. For those of you working with GSA, you’ve seen or been part of any number of working groups, industry days, interagency meetings, and requirements teams. You’ve contributed thousands of ideas and comments on our RFIs, draft RFPs and in our Interact communities.  You’ve rolled up your sleeves and helped shape our offerings from adding a new Special Item Number (SIN) on IT Schedule 70, to developing OASIS, Alliant 2, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), Network Services 2020 (NS2020), cloud strategies, identity management solutions, mobility and wireless solutions, satellite solutions, software, hardware and so much more.  

The Government’s shift to Category Management (CM), has also guided our planning and resulting solutions. We have experts that know telecom, software, IT hardware, IT services and IT security. The category hallways within the Acquisition Gateway provide access to many government-wide contracts, tools, pricing information, buying guides, templates, best practices and access to other buyers across government so you don’t have to figure things out on your own and are able to leverage work others have already done.

Our collective work has led to a very clear strategy for GSA’s next generation of IT and telecommunications solutions.  As a result, GSA is implementing solutions that better meet agencies’ needs, provide flexibility in acquiring IT/telecom, provide savings, reduce duplication and are reflective of technology market offerings. The graphic below shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development. 

This graphic shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development.

Reducing Duplication While Providing Flexibility

Our category management approach ensures that our contract solutions provide different ways to buy technology based on agency collaboration and feedback. We’ve been asked why you see similar technology or services available on more than one of our contracts. Some might say this also results in “duplication” or confusion, but our customers are telling us that they  need flexibility to buy technology products and services in different ways based on what I refer to it as, “the nature of the buy.”  

ITS prides itself on providing both general and niche solutions for IT and telecommunications products and services to federal, state and local agencies.  These solutions draw on GSA’s acquisition and IT expertise and they help our customers by allowing them to direct more resources into focusing on their core missions. About 30% of federal IT spend flows through ITS contracts and programs. We hold ourselves accountable for increasing federal procurement efficiency, reducing costs for both government and industry, and helping government achieve better results.  Reducing overlapping and redundant contracts is important to ITS. We’ve taken a true portfolio approach to planning our solutions and ensuring we provide maximum flexibility for government buyers as they make complex procurement strategy decisions.   

For example, agencies today are procuring wireless services and devices in a number of ways.  Our FSSI Wireless BPAs offer certain terms and conditions, plans, features (such as aggregated pooling of minutes and data) and pricing for services with devices provided as part of the overall solution. On IT Schedule 70, agencies have the option of buying just devices or service plans and devices and constructing their own terms and conditions.  If an agency were to use Networx for the wireless services/devices, they may be doing so to consolidate mobile services on a broader enterprise platform implementation.  

Cloud is another great example. We have cloud-based services available on IT Schedule 70, on our IaaS and EaaS BPAs, through GWACs (especially where integration or transition services are also needed) and through our network services contracts (off premise hosting or data center solutions are examples).  Our network services contracts are telecommunications focused but also recognize broader, related products and services may need to be part of the overall solution. EIS will provide best in class virtual private network services, Ethernet, voice, and managed network services at significant discounts.  These services may also be related to an agency’s enterprise implementation of data centers or call centers — either on-site or cloud-based.  While these are just a few examples, you can see it really doesn’t make sense to try to define, “bucket,” and limit technology solutions to individual contracts.

Guiding Agencies to the best choice

GSA’s job is to understand the market, listen to agency and industry partners, and use what we’ve learned to create solutions. While creating solutions will involve some overlap, we want to act as an honest broker and help agencies get to the best solution for them. Sometimes that includes guiding agencies to other non-GSA enterprise contracts that might be a better fit for their requirements.

We are making it our responsibility to help agencies through the process, especially when overlap could cause potential confusion about which vehicle is optimal for certain requirements. We will accomplish this through our continued proactive management approach with both customers and vendors. Through collaboration, scope reviews, and relationships, we want to better understand the core requirements and make the best acquisition recommendation.

As I pointed out earlier, we don’t take a “one size fits all” approach. If an agency has a cloud requirement that is within the scope of multiple contracts, we will work with that customer to understand their requirements and help assess their acquisition choices. We will make the best recommendation to ensure the agency requirements are being met in the most efficient and effective manner with the highest quality vendors possible.  On contracts such as our GWACs, Networx, and EIS, GSA performs pre-award and post-award scope reviews ensuring requirements are not only within the scope of the contract but that the contract is being used most effectively.  In addition, on our GWACs and on EIS, training is mandatory for contracting officers who use these contracts prior to GSA issuing them a delegation of procurement authority.

Final Thoughts

Even with slight overlap, these vehicles will deliver flexibility to buyers across government through pre-existing, pre-vetted contracts, which ultimately saves government and industry from investing time and money on new and redundant open-market contracts.

A few final, important thoughts I want to share with you about collaboration:

  • Collaboration allows us to be responsive continually to existing and emerging needs of government agencies and industry
  • Continual collaboration is always a goal, often a challenge, and clearly an opportunity
  • We always look for ways to make IT acquisitions seamlessly support agency missions, rather than hinder them. We also work to align to industry partners’ business goals, when they do not detract from government goals
  • Customer convenience, flexibility, and choice will always matter

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.

Join us for a live webcast demonstration of the Acquisition Gateway with Q&A on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, Noon MT, 11 a.m. PT. There’s no charge for this training, and you can earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP). This webcast is open to all and only federal government agency personnel. Register today!

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Next Generation GWAC Programs

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 3, 2015

Our governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) Program has been busy working on a number of updates and all of the hard work is starting to pay off. Each of our current GWACs has important milestones taking place:

  1. Alliant and Alliant Small Business announced draft Requests for Proposal (RFPs) for the sequel GWACs: Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business
  2. 8(a) STARS II notified stakeholders of open season and option initiatives
  3. VETS issued the initial Request for Information (RFI) for VETS 2

Federal agencies use GSA GWACs for a variety of IT services requirements including: data center consolidation, software development, systems integration, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and help desk support. Our GWACs have been prominent leaders in government and industry collaboration for many years, offering complimentary scope reviews, sample statements of work, acquisition templates and improved delegation of procurement authority (DPA) training.

Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2/A2SB)

In looking to the next generation, our GWAC Program published the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2/A2SB) draft RFPs to FedBizOpps (FBO) on March 31st. These GWACs will be the sequels to the successful Alliant and Alliant Small Business (A/ASB) GWACs. The draft RFPs will be open for comments by industry and government on FBO for 90 days, so I highly encourage you to contribute.

A2/A2SB’s pre-solicitation phase has raised the bar in transparency and collaborative processes, involving both federal agencies and industry partners. The A2/A2SB team performed thorough market research and laid significant groundwork in the pre-planning phase with efforts including:

  • An A2/A2SB Interact group with more than 7,000 members
  • A publically reviewed business case on OMB MAX
  • Numerous presentations to interested agencies
  • A customer working group with 30 members from 11 agencies
  • An industry working group with more than 500 participants
  • Two RFIs through FBO
  • Two official industry days with more than 500 attendees
  • Face-to-face, one-on-one meetings between Industry and A2/A2SB staff with 350 registrants

Notable enhancements proposed in A2/A2SB include: scope improvements, new IT service labor categories, new cybersecurity standards, new environmental standards, and the inclusion of requirement contracting types.

8(a)STARS II Open Season and Option

As a result of the 8(a) STARS II GWAC’s success within the first four years of operation, our Small Business GWAC Division has begun planning for the future of the program. Activities began this Spring to enhance the contract and secure the ability to provide socioeconomic credit to federal agency users.

On May 19th, 2015, GSA’s Small Business GWAC Division issued an RFP for an open season for the 8(a) STARS II GWAC. The open season will allow additional firms to submit proposals to be evaluated for a contract award. GSA intends to add new awardees to the contract in late FY16 or early FY17.

In May, the SBGWAC Division also provided early notice to current 8(a) STARS II contract holders of the requirements for the August 2016 option period

This early notice allows stakeholders to make determinations about future activities:

  • Industry partners who will not receive an option can plan ahead for partnering opportunities on existing task orders
  • Government partners can determine the best course of action for tasks issued to firms who will not receive their option and
  • The Small Business GWAC Division can provide education and training to all stakeholders on next steps

Veterans Technology Services 2

Our Small Business GWAC Division posted on March 19th an RFI survey to FBO requesting feedback from the SDVOSB IT community for the VETS GWAC follow-on contract. The RFI remained open through April 4th and we will use feedback from the survey to develop VETS 2. Join the VETS 2 GWAC Community on GSA Interact to participate further in the conversation.

While our GWAC Division is planning ahead to ensure a bright future for this important vehicle, the ordering period for the current VETS GWAC isn’t set to expire until February 1, 2017 so there is plenty of runway on the existing contract.

To The Future

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of our GWAC Program. The relationships that we’ve built with our government and industry partners have been critical to the program’s success. The number of agency missions our GWACs have facilitated demonstrates GSA’s ongoing commitment to our government partners, the small business community and the American people. Our next generation of GWAC programs are a testament to that commitment.

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