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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Schedule 70 Cloud Special Item Number (SIN), the Cloud One-Stop Shop

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 18, 2015

Federal, state and local agencies looking for cloud solutions now have a new and easy way to find and acquire commercial solutions to meet missions, achieve efficiencies and savings, and comply with federal mandates such as Cloud First.

On April 29, GSA added Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 to IT Schedule 70.

It’s like being able to shop at a “cloud one-stop shop” on IT Schedule 70. And agencies that want additional or custom IT and cloud options can still easily shop the entire IT Schedule 70 and GSA’s other governmentwide contracts.

For an even broader choice in IT solutions, agencies have access to the new Acquisition Gateway, providing them with governmentwide contracts, pricing data, templates, best practices and more.

Stocking the Cloud SIN Shelves

The cloud SIN has several sub-categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Industry suppliers are encouraged to submit proposals so they can be included as IT Schedule 70 cloud SIN partners. View the  IT Schedule 70 solicitation for instructions on how to develop and submit proposals for the cloud SIN by following IT Schedule 70 procedures.

GSA will help smoothly transition existing IT Schedule 70 cloud services industry partners to the cloud SIN.

Cloud Efficiencies, Savings, Modernization

Cloud IT is one of the most important technology trends we have access to today. In fact, this year Deltek’s Federal Industry Analysis team predicted that spending on federal cloud computing services will climb rapidly over the next five years, hitting $6.5 billion in fiscal year 2019 (FY 19).

Cloud has huge potential for savings. It also gives government a flexible and efficient alternative to replace costly, outdated legacy systems. Agencies benefit from pay-for-use services that expand and contract according to need, rather than requiring bigger investments in less flexible and more costly infrastructure and resource investments. The new cloud SIN and the industry solutions behind it, enable exactly that.

The cloud SIN will be critical to help agencies acquire cloud easier and faster by:

  •      providing a single SIN for all cloud needs instead of hiding them across multiple Schedule 70 SINs,
  •      allowing agencies to more easily create custom cloud BPAs, and
  •      bringing new and evolving cloud technologies to market faster.

Clear Path to Access Cloud

The cloud SIN offers a clear path to cloud services. It gives buyers the ability to more easily differentiate between cloud technologies and buy what they need.

The SIN is designed to be the first stop for agencies to identify cloud solutions and suppliers that will satisfy NIST’s five essential cloud characteristics.

Agencies will find a growing list of cloud options available through the cloud SIN as GSA continues to add suppliers over the coming months. Agencies will be able to go to eBuy and GSA Advantage! to search for ‘SIN 132-40” to locate cloud options, suppliers, pricing for further action and negotiations, and make purchases.  And use eLibrary and search “SIN 132-40.”

Buyers looking for cloud solutions can also use Cloud Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Governmentwide Acquisition Vehicles or refer to the Cloud Technology webpage for more cloud computing resources.  And more and more of our solutions are  Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) compliant providing an additional level of security and cost savings.

Follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS for updates on our cloud offerings and everything going on with our IT and telecommunications solutions.

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Big News for Govt Telecom, IT, Infrastructure

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 3, 2015

GSA is taking two key steps in our efforts to establish the future acquisition contract for government-wide IT, infrastructure, and telecommunications.

  1. On February 28 we issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contracts. EIS will be the follow-on contract vehicle to the existing heavily-used government-wide Networx and regional telecom contracts.
  2. We are beginning discussions with current Networx contractors for three-year extensions to existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. Originally set to expire in March and May 2017, the contracts will expire in March 2020 and in May 2020.

Our goals with EIS are:

  • Simplify the process of acquiring information technology and telecommunications products and services
  • Provide cost savings through aggregated volume buying and price and spend visibility
  • Enable the procurement of integrated enterprise-wide solutions
  • Foster competition and promote participation by small businesses
  • Offer a flexible and agile suite of services that supports a range of government purchasing patterns

Give Us Your Input on the Draft RFP

The draft RFP comes after significant and extensive industry and agency engagement.  We are encouraging comments and suggestions from both industry and government to help us finalize and further shape our program and contract.  We are extremely interested in ideas that will streamline the requirements for, or result in, an expedited transition and allow agencies and industry to transition to EIS in a timely and efficient manner.

The deadline for comments for this draft RFP is March 31, 2015. You can send feedback and comments to EIS.mailbox@gsa.gov.

Next steps will include:

  •  Continue to work with industry and agencies to implement ongoing Networx and regional efficiencies
  • Review draft EIS RFP feedback and make changes when it makes sense
  • Schedule an industry day to go over the draft RFP and updates
  • Issue the final EIS RFP in July 2015
  • Work with agencies and industry in transition planning for Networx and expiring regional contracts prior to award of EIS; in fact, GSA has already begun inventory analysis and validation on all expiring contracts
  • Target award of EIS contracts and issue Notification To Proceed to successful offerors by January 2017
  • Plan for agencies to start transition from Networx and regional contracts to EIS in 2017
  • Complete transition of Networx and regional customers to EIS no later than May 2020

Networx Extensions: Next Steps

Today, most federal agencies purchase network services through the Networx telecommunications program.  In FY 2014, Networx business volume was $1.5B.

The Networx 3-year contract extensions are designed to provide time for a phased and orderly transition to EIS.

We are working with existing Networx Universal and Enterprise contractors to complete the modifications to extend the contracts so they will be available in parallel with the EIS contracts for three years after the EIS award.

The Networx extensions will simplify and make the transition easier by ensuring agencies uninterrupted existing services during this time.  GSA is increasing staffing and support to provide agencies with requirements development, acquisition assistance, and transition assistance.

Staggered agency implementation across government will support strategic deployment of GSA’s and contractors’ resources and expertise to assist agencies.

The three-year extension and transition period will also give agencies flexibility as they balance internal resources between transition activities and other agency priorities.

The EIS acquisition, along with the Networx extensions, are the cornerstones of the NS2020 strategy, which is designed to lower the cost of providing network services and improve acquisition efficiency.

Finally, we are continuing to take a close look at the best ways to continue services provided through existing regional contracts, including WITS 3, prior to also transitioning those services to EIS.

Remember to send feedback and comments on the draft RFP by March 31, 2015 to EIS.mailbox@gsa.gov. If you have any other questions about EIS, the draft RFP, or Networx extensions, check out our Need Help webpage for the ways you can contact us.

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FY 2014 Delivers Enterprise Growth in Wireless

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 23, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

As we all know, the explosion in demand for wireless and mobile services is continuing at a pace hard to keep up with. And with that popularity comes government’s continuing need to find ways to exploit those technologies while simultaneously saving money and increasing acquisition and operational efficiencies.

In FY 2014, we saw agencies increasingly turn to GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). Initially launched in the second half of FY 2013, the BPAs experienced substantial growth in FY 2014, with multiple enterprise level buys (greater than 2,500 units) awarded and task order-level competition yielding very competitive rates and cost savings for most federal users.

Since June 2014, month over month program growth exceeded 30%. Additional awards are anticipated in early FY 2015 increasing agency usage and savings (>20%) for the foreseeable future.

Cost Savings, Choice, and Efficiency

The growing demand of the FSSI Wireless solution is largely due to the >22% cost savings they deliver and the flexible features they offer (including no-charge refreshable devices, open market premium devices, agency-level pooling to reduce overage costs, and adherence to federal policies and administrative priorities). The achieved savings by participating agencies is compared to their prior rates or government-wide average and not list prices.

FSSI Wireless BPA task order competitions have driven rates lower from the award value to rates as low as $42, $40, $38, and $36 per user per month for many common smartphone plans.

This competition lowered the average monthly rate across all federal mobile users to approximately $40 per user. The prior average rate across government based on the contracts we reviewed was nearly $55, which was comprised primarily of devices with limited data capabilities. This means the FSSI Wireless BPAs are producing considerable additional savings for agencies as they deploy devices with a much greater data-intensive footprint.

The BPAs have the added advantage they include government-wide discounts that apply as government-wide usage increases, which adds even greater value.

The more agencies use the BPAs, the greater the current and future cost savings for the government and taxpayers.

Initial savings are through the discounted wireless plan pricing and no-cost devices. Two of the four carriers on contract have committed that the BPA prices are the lowest they offer government buyers.  In addition, agencies can see the published prices on all the BPAs in a single place.

In addition, the pooling option for data and minutes are saving agency dollars by allowing high-volume users to leverage the unused minutes and MBs purchased by lower volume users, further reducing overage costs.

Savings came in acquisition efficiencies too. In the past year, some agencies procured services from the BPAs in as little as 3-5 days.  One agency procured 3500-plus devices in less than two months and indicated they could have executed the order in less time.

Wireless Buying Trends

The most popular data add-on and data-only plans are the 500MB Pooled and Unlimited plans. The most popular voice plans under the BPAs are the 400 Minute Pooled and 100 Minute Pooled plans.

We’re finding agencies default to unlimited when they don’t know what they will use to avoid potential overages. The FSSI wireless contracts offer agencies usage data enabling them to structure the right plan and pooling arrangement that will satisfy individual needs reducing risk of overages.

During 2014, government agencies also took advantage of additional assistance offered by GSA to help manage the mobile component of their IT enterprise by using GSA’s Managed Mobility sources of supply list or the FSSI Wireless BPAs to add mobile management resources they can bundle with wireless service plans.

Overall, 2014 was a successful year for GSA’s wireless and mobile programs.  Building on the FSSI Wireless Program and Managed Mobility Program, we consolidated these solutions and category management approaches under the GSA Enterprise Mobility Program.

Going forward in 2015, we expect wireless BPA usage and savings to continue to grow. Several agencies indicate the BPAs will be their contract vehicle of choice for all future acquisition of wireless services.

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

 

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Alliant GWAC: Exploring Success

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 22, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. 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 safe acquisition vehicle. Agencies obligated  $2.682 billion dollars to Alliant during FY14, 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. The success can be attributed to several factors that deserve a closer look.

Alliant FY14 Success Analytics:

Since contract inception, more than 60 agencies have used Alliant and awarded an estimated $18.7 Billion in task order value.  Fourteen agencies used Alliant for the first time in FY14. This steady growth can be attributed to numerous factors. For example, approximately 1200 federal acquisition & program professionals have received the Alliant GWAC Delegation of Procurement (DPA) training to including 229 just in FY14 – an 18% increase in buying power! Lastly during FY14, 85 Statements of Work (SOWs) were submitted for review.

Top Agencies and Vendors:

The top three agencies utilizing Alliant (obligated dollars) are the Department of Homeland Security at $2.74 billion, the Air Force at $2.70 billion, and the Department of State at $2.52 billion. The Army comes in at a close fourth at  $2.24 billion, marking a significant task order increase of 47% between FY13 and FY14.

Currently, SAIC is the dominant vendor with over $1.6 billion in obligations spread across 42 task orders. Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services follows with $720 million across 43 task orders, increasing its capture by more than 60% over the past three years according to a recent study conducted by Govini. Northrop Grumman follows suit with $550 million across 36 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 taxpayer money. Our pre-competed vehicle consists of 58 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, 50 out of 58 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 58 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 partake 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 through 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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USAccess HSPD-12 Update

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 8, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. Read previous posts at  http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

GSA is the second largest issuer of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credentials in the federal government. The credential you are carrying every day may well be issued by GSA’s USAccess program.

Since 2008, our program has issued almost 900,000 credentials to more than 100 federal agencies. In 2014, we focused on two specific improvements that will improve customer service:

  • Reducing the wait for delivery and activation of PIV cards
  • Enhancing security and personnel management

Reducing wait time

PIV cards are critical for agencies to protect and secure data and locations. Many contractors and employees cannot function without access to the buildings and systems that the PIV cards allow. Because of that, customers have wanted us to shorten the waiting time for delivery and activation.

Since the beginning of our program, the average wait time was 10-14 days. We worked with our shipping partner through GSA’s FSSI Domestic Delivery Service to reduce the wait time by half: 5 to 7 days. Now we combine a daily batching process for producing the cards, exclusively overnight shipping, and better anomaly tracking, so agency customers now receive finished cards 50% faster than before, with 99.97% accuracy.

Enhancing security and personnel management
GSA partnered with the Census Bureau to build a Local (Distributed) Printing Proof of Concept (POC). This POC will allow Census to decrease wait time and therefore increase security and field office personnel management. By their projection, it will also reduce travel expenditures by several million dollars annually by saving employees extra trips to credentialing centers. The first distributed printing station went into operation at Census’ Suitland headquarters on September 15, to be followed by up to 40 more stations across the United States by early 2015.

Since USAccess is a shared service, this enhanced capability can be offered to other agency customers with a much-reduced development time and cost, using the template and lessons learned from the first deployments. The team’s goal is to deploy distributed printing as a standard practice.

Looking ahead
GSA is developing and deploying even more improvements and enhancements to the USAccess PIV card service. Through customer collaboration groups, we can take on technology challenges like mobile and derived credential solutions, temporary credentials, and new identity verification methods like iris scans. These developments will be carefully designed and tested by the team and its support contractors so when they are fielded, they will enhance and extend the USAccess’s value.

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Trends in Federal Network Connections

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 7, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. Read previous posts at  http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

Connectivity is the lifeblood of government. Government investment in improving and maintaining basic connectivity may be a small part of our IT budgets, but an important one. Reliable and flexible connections remain vital as the mobile workforce grows.

Connections II is the GSA contract agencies often come to when they need to purchase support and equipment to provide connectivity from the user’s desktop to the point of interconnection of the customer’s network service providers.

Connections II Customer Buying Trends

Federal agencies obligated $124 million to campus and building networking solutions through Connections II and issued 133 task orders in FY 2014.

What Connections II purchase data tells us is agencies need continued support and resources in this area. Five service types available from Connections II make up almost 80% of demand.

Technology Solutions Percentage of Total
Voice Operations and Billing Consolidation 23%
Unified Communications Expansion 20%
General Support 15%
Telecom Upgrades 11%
Network Maintenance 10%

Customers predominantly look to acquire more consolidated support as it offers advantages for lowering costs and reducing redundancies.

Second, 20% of Connections II customers are seeking to merge Voice/Data/Video (Unified Communications). The emphasis is on need to communicate from any device, anywhere, any time.

Looking for Operational Savings over Time

Connections II customers are receiving solutions that save their operational budget over time.

For example, telecom operations, billing management, and VoIP/UC modernization for one agency is estimated to save $30 million over 3 years over existing operational costs. Another agency is performing a nationwide Unified Communications Convergence upgrade with an estimated operational savings of $25 million over 5 years.

Connections II has always had strong customer loyalty with most projects coming from repeat customers. Now, we’ve added a tiered fee potential for customers with multiple smaller tasks adding up to significant volume, to further reward these customers.

Orders Increasing Year to Year

Demand for solutions from Connections II is growing year to year. FY 14 obligations represent an increase of 29% in obligations from FY 2013 and 34% from FY 2012.

This growth occurred despite sequestration and the government shutdown for two and half weeks in FY 2014. Local connectivity is a necessity for workforce support, internal and external communications and core administrative activities that every agency needs.

Looking into the future, under Connections II, we expect to see more Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as some customers do not want to own all their systems but instead buy the support.

In the world of wireless, we expect to see more about 802.11x technology, local LAN repeaters/amplifiers, etc. In security, we anticipate the need for new solutions for existing networks as well as future wireless networks.

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

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FY 2014 Year-End IT Purchasing Data Tell Our Stories

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 6, 2015

This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14.

Gain insights into what rocked IT in FY14….

The government’s IT purchases tell a story. Gone are days when IT was in a silo off in the corner. Now, IT is a key part of the mission equation. IT investments made in Fiscal Year 2014 give us the latest chapter in the story of what’s important to government as a whole.

Agencies are feeling pressure to develop mission enhancing technologies. They want solutions that will expand and contract as needed and serve multiple purposes, without technology investments becoming outdated and stale. They look for ways to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars wisely, realize IT cost savings and acquisition efficiencies, and meet our service goals to the American people. And they look to GSA for help.

GSA is proud to play a role in helping agencies buy smarter, faster, and for greater value. We work closely with CIOs, CFOs, and CAOs across government to understand our customers’ current and future requirements. We can also look at fiscal year-end purchasing data to give insights into what rocked our government IT world in the past year.

Stay Tuned for Closer Looks at Each IT Area

Being the largest IT acquisition organization in the federal government, it is our responsibility to create an environment where agencies and industry can obtain the necessary information to understand buying patterns, trends, and best practices. That means even greater transparency beyond our extensive customer and industry outreach efforts.

To that end, I will run a series of blog posts here in the next week or so to take a closer look at FY 2014 purchasing trends and activity in different IT areas such as cyber, wireless services, commodities from IT Schedule 70, satellite services, and more.

The data we’re using is based on activity and trends we see on GSA’s IT contracts. The data not only gives an idea of our aggregated IT priorities and trends in 2014, but what might be coming next. I encourage you to join us and check back often over the coming weeks as we look back at FY14 IT to better understand this recently closed chapter.

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

 

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Industry and Small Business Outreach on Northeast Infrastructure Solutions

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 1, 2014

What’s hot right now besides the weather?

Our newly issued Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS) Draft Statement of Work (SOW) is a hot topic in the federal IT community. The NIS acquisition is one of GSA’s critical steps to our ultimate goal of moving toward a fully consolidated, enterprise-wide, nationwide telecommunications portfolio (Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions [EIS]) based on GSA’s Network Services 2020 (NS2020) strategy.

Working with our federal agency partners, we developed requirements and issued the draft SOW on fbo.gov on July 24, 2014. The draft is industry’s chance to help shape the acquisition that will serve markets and customer requirements located in the Northeast Corridor.

As part of NIS, GSA is considering a partial set-aside to small business for DSL and Tariff requirements. This RFI is also seeking input on those capabilities. See our Small Business Partial Set-Aside document for a full description of requirements and information requested. We haven’t made a final decision on small business set-aside yet, and are using this tool to assess capabilities and receive feedback.

Submit comments through August 8, 2014 using this email address: nis.sources-sought.comments@gsa.gov.

Next Steps

NIS will consolidate local service contracts currently in place in four GSA Regions across the Northeast United States (NCR and Regions 1, 2 and 3). Two more regional consolidations — Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS) and Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS) — are also planned over the next fiscal year. Together, the three consolidated regional acquisitions are called the Regional Infrastructure Solutions (RIS).

We anticipate issuing Requests for Information (RFIs) soon for WIS and CIS, so stay tuned to @GSA_ITS on Twitter for updates.

 

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Fireworks, Festivities, and Connections II Dashboard Launch

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 14, 2014

In July, we celebrate America, our independence, and our freedom. Thousands of fireworks take off one after another across our beautiful night skies and we have fun with family and friends.

This year, we have one more reason to celebrate — at least in the IT and data communities.

Over the July 4th weekend, our Connections II program launched an interactive, real-time Connections II dashboard. The tool allows Connections II users to view and analyze non-classified data on federal IT purchasing activity awarded under GSA’s Connections II.

Data turned into actionable information will allow government to buy smarter, help agencies make better buying decisions, and lead to smoother bid and proposal processes. More information can help agencies better understand purchasing trends, conduct better market research, and be better negotiators. Ultimately, government buying decisions based on consistent, shared information deliver dollar savings to U.S. taxpayers.

We collectively are opening up data, sharing it, and working together to find additional value. At GSA, we look for ways to make government purchasing data more open, transparent, and accessible, and the Connections II dashboard is one way to do this.

The Connections II dashboard creates a single point of access for all data on Connections II task order obligations, number of awards, agency/bureau, and industry partner activity.

Users have quick and easy access to the dashboard. Search results display in easily understood lists, graphs, and charts. The real-time dashboard gives meaningful and timely program information–whether to industry or government–at any time. Users can search for specific items, sort data, and create and download custom reports.

We try to give customers and industry partners real-time data whenever they need it – at both the agency and order level so government can increase data quality and spend analysis, and make better business decisions, and so industry partners can tailor their offerings.

Other Reasons to Celebrate

GSA is just getting the big data explosion started with using and sharing our data to everyone’s benefit. GSA has several other data transparency efforts underway for the government IT acquisition community:

  • Get spend data from our GWACs Dashboard and Networx.
  • Use the Prices Paid tool for GWACs and now Wireless BPAs for aggregate pricing information. (It requires a .gov or .mil login.)
  • Prices-paid pilot programs are underway for Schedules and our satellite program.
  • GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is working on the common acquisition platform as a critical resource for federal buyers. It will contain even more tools, capabilities, and government-wide data on acquisition vehicles, intelligence, and prices paid.

If you want more information about Connections II, read about Connections II and transitioning to IPv6. We have several Statement of Work (SOW) templates you can download: IPv6 SOW to assist with IPv6 transitioning, DNSSEC SOW to help agencies with security transitioning from DNS to DNSSEC and email authentication based on the deployed DNSSEC, and a Unified Communications SOW template to help agencies combine voice, data, and video.

If you need help or information on GSA IT programs, go to our Need Help Page. Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s IT acquisition conversation.

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