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.

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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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FY 2015 Sees Agencies Saving Dollars on Wireless

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 15, 2016

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY 15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

As agencies move to a more mobile workforce, we have seen their demand for wireless services increase. Government use of GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) skyrocketed 500% over FY14.

This increase is due to greater demand for better management and savings as agencies integrate mobile technology into their IT enterprise. It’s also due to agencies transforming their work environments with more mobile and flexible options.

Embracing Cost Savings

In FY15, we saw an average of 27% in savings with FSSI Wireless BPAs compared to prior year expenses for those agencies.

These buyers found Monthly Recurring Charges (MRCs) per device dropping to $38.82 per user per month, from the $55.40 federal average at the start of the program, over many common voice and data smartphone plans. The BPAs are saving government agencies more than $16 per month per user. This marks a new low for the average MRC and highest monthly savings rate to date.

Since these are service costs, and not just one-time costs, the savings are compounding each month agencies are on the contract.

FY15 federal government savings for the program exceeded $10 million as a result of better pricing, management, and competition credits. This means the government is leveraging government-wide discounts to save more each year, while it deploys devices with a greater focus on meeting the ever-increasing data needs for agencies.

Managing Wireless and Mobile Better

Another big priority we saw in FY15 was agencies’ commitment to better managing wireless resources across the enterprise. 85% of defense and civilian cabinet-level agencies are using FSSI Wireless BPAs. Many of them are slowly consolidating wireless via phased task orders to fully consolidate and better manage mobile assets.

Managing wireless better, attaining volume-driven discounts, and consolidating orders makes agencies more efficient operationally as well as financially. Consolidation, standardization, better inventory management, and increased security are top priorities. Tools that can help them manage mobile resources, applications, and security will become even more important going forward.

Other Wireless Insights

Agencies want flexible features when buying wireless, which is fueling the growing popularity of the FSSI Wireless BPAs. Discounted wireless plan pricing, no-cost devices, and the pooling option for data and minutes are saving agency dollars by allowing an agency’s high-volume users to leverage the unused minutes and MBs purchased by lower volume users, further reducing overage costs.

The most popular data add-on and data-only plans continue to be 500MB Pooled and Unlimited Data plans. Like last year, the most popular voice plans under the BPAs are the 400 Minute Pooled and 100 Minute Pooled plans. This means that agencies have been getting better at driving their carrier costs down by purchasing what they need and optimizing their plans, rather than the “set it and forget it” wireless purchasing and management approach of the past.

About half of federal agencies using FSSI Wireless are using two or more contractors to meet their enterprise-wide wireless needs. This may be a factor of transitioning to a new contract, after which they’ll consolidate to one carrier. It can also encourage greater competition and cost savings in task order negotiations.

FSSI Wireless BPA users reported the ability to do faster procurements than anticipated. This is a plus when doing a phased approach to fully consolidate and allowing a flexible transition timeline depending on agency need, while driving down the transaction costs.

What’s in Store in FY16

GSA in partnership with our customer agencies is already working on the next generation of wireless and mobile solutions – known as Mobility 2.0.

Mobility 2.0 is a collaborative approach with a cross-agency task force to address the next generation of acquisition planning aimed at supporting how the government buys and manages wireless/mobility programs in the future.

We’re preparing to launch a new Mobility 2.0 Interact Community that industry and agencies can join to keep up-to-date on new initiatives and plans.

The February 9th Mobility webinar and April 14th live event are for agency officials to keep abreast of the latest trends, initiatives and collaboration about government wireless requirements, needs, and best choices for acquiring wireless and mobile resources. Save the dates and stay tuned to @GSA_ITS twitter account on how to register.

In the meantime, agency buyers looking for savings and management tools can start with GSA’s Enterprise Wide Mobility website.

The good news from FY15, and hopefully in coming years, is….The more agencies use government-wide wireless contracts, the greater cost savings for government and taxpayers.

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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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FSSI Wireless Averages 27% Savings for Agencies

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 14, 2015

Officials from a number of agencies shared their success stories on June 8 about how they’ve implemented the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless BPAs to save money, averaging between 27% to 40% in cost savings from their previous wireless spend.

The Enterprise Mobility Program Workshop held at GSA’s 1800 F Street office was attended by agency representatives from across the government anxious to hear how they can save time and money managing their agency’s wireless programs. Attendees heard a thorough explanation of GSA’s Enterprise Mobility Program from agencies that have already made the switch, including helpful tips, strategies, and best practices for moving to FSSI Wireless BPAs.

Adoption is strong with 86% of cabinet level agencies now using the Wireless BPAs to cut dollars from their agency wireless spend and achieve pricing that now averages $39.77/month per user.

DOD, DHS, HHS, SBA, DOT, VA, FCC, MDA, SSA, DOI, and many others have executed successfully against the BPAs, and as a result have been saving their agencies – and U.S. taxpayers – money.

An online webinar is also planned Tuesday, July 21 for agency participants. Register for the event today!

You can also click on the link below to view a video of my remarks from the June 8 Enterprise Mobility live event. In it, I provide an overview of the current FSSI Wireless program and discuss how an enterprise approach to mobility generates savings and better management.

View the video on YouTube.

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

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Managed Mobility Gets Even Sweeter

Posted by Mary Davie
on April 17, 2014

College basketball has the Sweet 16 in March. Our kids have chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and gooey marshmallow Peeps in April. And springtime kicking harsh Old Man Winter to the curb to bring in baseball’s Boys of Summer is pretty sweet.

At GSA, we’ve got more sweet news. We recently launched the Mobile Lifecycle & Expense Management (ML&EM) component of GSA’s Managed Mobility Program.

ML&EM solutions can reduce agency mobile costs, saving up to 25% during initial rollout and 8-10% savings thereafter. The larger an agency’s mobile footprint, the higher expected efficiencies and cost savings, but value grows for any agency as its mobile strategy evolves and mobile usage trends up.

Re-cap of Mobile and Wireless

We originally launched the Managed Mobility Program in May 2013 with Mobile Device and Application Management (MDM/MAM). Our program started by identifying MDM/MAM industry solutions on existing government-wide contracts.

We also launched last May the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative Wireless blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) to save government costs on wireless. One agency is saving 30% on wireless service and mobile phones as compared to their prior agreements. All four major wireless carriers provide national coverage. One cool feature is account-level voice and data pooling to reduce overages, further lowering costs.

The New Sweet Spot

To sweeten the mobile management solution mix for agencies, GSA and a cross-government working group most recently documented common government requirements for ML&EM. We identified industry partner solutions that meet the bulk of the requirements and mapped solutions to existing government contracts.

On March 31, we posted links to these ML&EM sources of supply on our website.

ML&EM solutions give agencies resources and expertise to manage wireless expenses and service selection throughout the lifecycle. This includes managing wireless expenses, invoice consolidation, optimization of service plans, managing inventory, invoice/cost distribution, and resolving disputes with carriers. Identified sources of supply can initially examine an agency’s wireless service plan mix, usage trends, and more to see where you might save, and will do this on an ongoing basis to increase an agency’s wireless ongoing cost savings. Contract Optimization standards comply with OMB Circular A-123 and Presidential Executive Order 13589.

In today’s government, we know we need to continually seek ways to save taxpayer dollars on IT. Using Wireless BPAs is one way. Using an ML&EM solution can be another.

Need help on using GSA’s Managed Mobility Program or FSSI Wireless BPAs? Find out how we can assist you through our new Need Help Page. And be sure to follow us and continue the conversation on Twitter @GSA_ITS.

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Government’s Mobile Moment

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 7, 2012

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel recently announced the development of a new Mobile Strategy at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I was there, and was glad to hear his perspective on the potential of mobile technology for government, especially since GSA has been working hard to realize that potential.

Putting mobile IT to the test

GSA has been at the mobile technology frontier for some time now. Most GSA employees have laptops and smartphones so they can work from anywhere. Our systems and internal network are fully accessible via the web. We have implemented rigorous yet manageable security to protect the agency and our employees, including mobile device management and two-factor identification for external systems. We are well on our way to reaching our goal of secure access through any device, anywhere, anytime.

We’ve taken these risks because we’re committed to making government work better, no matter the mission or the location. We say “work is what you do, not where you do it,” because we’ve seen firsthand how enabling mobility has empowered us to better serve other agencies. This experience has prepared us to advise the federal government in using mobility to improve services to citizens, engage citizens in government, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

Our mobile role

We’re closing what VanRoekel calls the productivity gap between government’s traditional methods and mobile best practices. We are working to help agencies address unique mobility requirements through existing, flexible contract vehicles like Alliant and Connections II. We are also tackling commonly shared needs through our new, streamlined programs, like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Email as a Service (EaaS), and a new wireless program.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, VanRoekel highlighted our wireless program as a pocket of excellence, because it can improve oversight and overcome the government’s fragmented mobile IT purchasing. We will soon release a wireless blanket purchase agreement (BPA) under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) to leverage the government’s buying power for wireless services and devices, including smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

The BPA will include requirements to enable enterprise-level management and reporting, and will integrate with planned modifications to our Telecommunications Expense Management Service (TEMS) FSSI. Agencies will then be able to manage their inventory and expenses through a single, secure interface, simplifying and improving the business of government. We are also part of the mGov team looking at opportunities in acquisition, inventory, and expense management to further aggregate and leverage what and how we buy.

I look forward to sharing with you more of our plans and successes in the coming months, especially following the release of the final Mobility Strategy. You can learn more about the Mobility Strategy at the Office of Management and Budget blog as well as the recently completed National Dialogue on The Federal Mobility Strategy. In the meantime, I invite you to share your thoughts and feedback by leaving a comment on this blog or finding me on Twitter.

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Speeding up the Fast Track – Coming in First for Customer Service

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 5, 2011

In April, President Obama issued Executive Order 13571, “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service”, requiring agencies to create and publish customer service plans. In line with that directive, GSA recently published its own customer service plan.

As we implement our plan, I want to share some of the ways in which we at ITS are already improving customer service. As I see it, we are on an exciting ongoing journey that directly involves our customer agencies and industry partners. Making this journey as easy and fast as possible will require three things:

  • a passion for delivering results and value
  • a willingness to take on new perspectives, and
  • frequent, open, and honest communication.

Delivering Results and Value to Customers

ITS is the federal government’s largest and most experienced IT acquisition partner. Our unique relationship with other government agencies and industry partners gives us the opportunity to create value for both our customers and for taxpayers. We work closely with most federal agencies and the best vendors in government IT, so we can share, reuse, and leverage best practices.

We help agencies identify and aggregate their shared needs, providing value that isn’t available through in-house procurement. Our partnership with GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS) means that agencies can get support across the entire acquisition lifecycle to ensure that requirements are met on time, within budget, and with reduced risk.

We also reduce acquisition risk by setting up flexible, innovative contract vehicles, and working hand-in-glove with agencies and industry to define and meet requirements. This past year we solicited direct agency and industry involvement in our new cloud offerings, future telecommunications contracts, our new IT commodity program, and USAccess (HSPD-12). This collaboration has already shown positive results, including the release of the RFQ for our upcoming FSSI Wireless program.

Adopting a Different Perspective

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to see things from a different angle. By taking on our customers’ perspective, we at GSA are able to pave the way for industry to seamlessly deliver and implement IT solutions for government. Industry then has incentives to point out where GSA can improve and to share their commercial customer service best practices.

Customers also benefit from thinking big—when your agency identifies a need for a new method or procurement process, think about how other agencies could participate in a shared solution. Come talk to us. You may be surprised at what we can do, or what we already have in the works.

Increasing and Expanding Communication

To develop this broader perspective, we’re reaching out with new ways to engage customers and industry. Our efforts dovetail with President Obama’s direction to advance customer service through innovative technology.

Over the past six months, we’ve done this in a variety of ways, such as posting draft RFIs and RFQs on the BetterBuy wiki to solicit input on our FSSI Wireless and Network Services 2020 programs. We have employed two-way communications channels, such as our Twitter account, this blog, and community websites, enhancing industry’s and customers’ access to ITS and to each other. We are also overhauling our web presence to better explain our offerings and make it easier to find information. Together, these initiatives should make our initial conversations with customers more productive and meaningful.

As we create and update these tools and channels, please use them and tell us what you think. We are asking you to give us your honest assessment before, during, and after we work together. We always want to know what we could be doing better so that we remain the government’s trusted go-to resource for all of their IT and telecommunications needs.

Let me know how we’re doing by leaving a comment here or reaching me on Twitter.

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