Polaris: GSA’s Next-Generation Small Business GWAC

Posted by Laura Stanton
on October 1, 2020

As an organization, GSA places a lot of importance on guiding IT service providers in forming relationships and doing business with the federal government. GSA is also here to assist agencies as they navigate the marketplace of emerging and transformative IT solutions that will help them achieve their missions and perform efficiently.

With that in mind, we’re naming our next-generation Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) “Polaris,” and we’re developing it with these important attributes as our guides.

Polaris is also known as “The Guiding Star” in the night sky. This GWAC represents another step forward for the next generation of IT services based solutions from GSA. Polaris will not only guide small businesses through the federal market, it will also help GSA customer agencies through the acquisition of IT service-based solutions, and give GSA a chance to improve our offerings and set the agency on a solid course for the future.

On August 27, GSA hosted “Your Voice Matters: Help Shape GSA’s Next Small Business GWAC Industry Forum.” During the event, attendees heard firsthand about our vision for providing opportunities for small businesses – including underrepresented socio-economic categories – and state-of-the-art IT solutions for federal agencies through next-generation GWACs.

Teamwork makes the dream work

GSA recognizes the value of collaborating with our industry partners, customers, and other stakeholders. The only way to improve the quality and availability of IT services in the marketplace is to know exactly how agencies and industry partners feel about current products and processes, as well as opportunities for innovation. For that reason, we solicited feedback from industry partners prior to and during the industry forum. At that time, we also vowed to keep the conversation going.

To facilitate that dialogue, we launched the SB GWAC Community of Interest (COI). The COI is a webpage that allows for an exchange of thoughts on topics related to all of GSA’s small business GWACs. This input will be taken into consideration as we develop a plan forward. Additionally, engagement with agency and industry partners will continue through additional market research.

Broadening the Industrial Base

Pricing Strategy: GSA is considering new strategies to increase our pool of qualified small businesses that serve federal agencies. One of the most ambitious approaches involves the potential employment of Section 876 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act in the next-generation vehicle, through FAS’s “Enhancing Competition at the Order Level” initiative under the Federal Marketplace Strategy. Section 876 gives GSA authority to award contracts to qualifying offerors without considering prices for services acquired on an hourly rate basis.

As this would shift the focus to pricing competition at the task order level – it is important that we continue our efforts to increase competition in the marketplace by creating opportunities for qualified small businesses.

On-ramps: By offering open season on-ramps, the industrial base could be expanded as technology changes, the market evolves, and to improve competition at the task order level. This would be a great benefit to federal agencies. On-ramping could allow agencies continuous access to top performing industry partners that offer the latest advancements in technology. On-ramping will also allow vendors the opportunity for consideration to be on the GWAC following the initial award period.

Additionally, small businesses with fresh ideas could have the opportunity to participate in the federal IT services marketplace. This approach could also improve overall federal government efficiency and might potentially help close the age-old government/private sector technology gap.

Opportunity Expansion: GSA’s small business GWACs have supported agencies in meeting their small business goals for more than two decades. We want to build on this success by looking at small businesses without socio economic status as well as options to increase opportunities for HUBZone and woman-owned small businesses. GSA is also eager to engage with industry about the possibilities of providing lifecycle opportunities on GSA contract vehicles for small businesses as they grow and mature.

Embracing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Polaris aims to provide customers with streamlined access to emerging technology providers including those offering artificial intelligence, automated technologies (like robotic process automation), blockchain, 5G implementation (including edge computing), cyber security, and cloud.

Efforts to Ease the Process

In hopes of optimizing performance, GSA is improving existing business practices. Recent industry feedback has made it clear that we must work even harder to ease the strain that prospective future GWAC holders experience while trying to partner with us. For that reason, we are working on improvements to the proposal submission and evaluation processes. We’re currently exploring the use of an online proposal submission tool to expedite the award process. We’re also looking at an evaluation strategy that aligns with customer requirements, while using objective evaluation criteria to the maximum extent possible. Additionally, as a result of positive feedback received on the self-scoring approach used on VETS 2 and Alliant 2, a similar strategy for the new vehicle is being considered.

Power in Knowing

GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) has long been a valued resource to the small business community. We recognize that small businesses fuel the nation’s economy and sincerely welcome our responsibility to provide the support the community needs and expects. As with past GWAC launches, GSA is equipped to help prospective GWAC partners familiarize themselves with the process. GSA’s OSDBU team helps small businesses better position themselves for available opportunities by providing training and resources. This includes free virtual training on creating a federal marketing plan, and identifying federal customers through the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). For more information, regional OSDBU contacts can be accessed by visiting GSA’s small business support page.

We plan to host regular engagement events to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the path to the new Polaris solicitation and award. Details about our future engagements will be made available on the COI web page.

What’s the Timeline?

We are in the very early stages of the process and are looking forward to continuing dialogue with our industry partners and agency customers. We’re working to release a request for information this month and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get a draft request for proposals out within the next few months.

We are enthusiastic that our new, next-generation small business GWAC has the potential to not only increase the industrial base and pool of qualified vendors, but also vastly increase the quality and diversity of IT services available to federal agency customers.

Interested parties should join the COI.

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

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STARS II, Taking Action

Posted by Laura Stanton
on August 18, 2020

The federal government places great importance on providing opportunities for small, disadvantaged businesses to gain experience and learn how to compete in the federal marketplace. In partnership with the Small Business Administration, GSA is helping the federal government provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by the socially and economically disadvantaged. Competition is intentionally limited on certain contracts to businesses that participate in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program.

As a small disadvantaged business set-aside that provides flexible access to customized IT services and IT-services based solutions from a large, diverse pool of 8(a) industry partners, 8(a) STARS II has been a critical mission-enabler for agencies. We couldn’t be more proud of our 8(a) partners and their long track record of success. STARS II has exceeded our expectations at every turn and has been increasingly successful in serving the IT solutions needs of the federal government. As a result of the important work that agencies are doing through STARS II, we recently reached the contract’s ceiling for the third time.

Partnering closely with the SBA, GSA took quick action and raised the contract’s ceiling by $7B to $22B. This will help preserve the IT services supplier base during a national crisis, minimize disruption to agencies purchasing during the pandemic, and provide agencies continued access to STARS II until STARS III is available. SBA has been a great partner throughout this process. They see the unprecedented health and economic emergency caused by COVID-19 and how the pandemic is threatening the survival of many small businesses. Sustaining America’s small businesses, and ensuring maximum, practicable opportunity for small businesses, is at the heart of SBA’s mission. Their support was critical in meeting the statutory requirements under the Competition in Contracting Act that made this modification possible.

Without this much-needed increase, no new task orders could have been awarded on STARS II and all businesses on STARS II would have been ineligible for any additional business through this GWAC. The ceiling increase allows each of the 787 businesses on STARS II to continue offering Best-in-Class IT solutions to agency clients through the current contract ordering period ending August 30, 2021.

Unexpected Consequences of Demand

If GSA and SBA had not increased the ceiling, agencies could not have responded to COVID as quickly and none of the STARS II firms would have received new awards. We quickly determined that the only way to help enable a rapid agency response to the pandemic and to protect the industrial base was to increase the ceiling and keep all firms eligible during the response to the crisis.

GSA and SBA only had two viable options to raise the ceiling: 1.) to only allow firms in the SBA 8(a) program (excluding contract holders who had graduated) to receive directed task order awards, or 2.) to raise the ceiling for all industry partners, but reduce the Period of Performance (PoP).

GSA in coordination with SBA determined raising the ceiling and decreasing the PoP to 2 years was the best business decision for several reasons:

  1. GSA and SBA anticipated the 2-year PoP would permit agencies to respond to the immediate agency needs for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. All of the 8(a) STARS II vendors will now have the opportunity to pursue $7 billion in new business. Approximately 538 vendors have graduated from the 8(a) Program and, thanks to the ceiling increase, are still benefiting from the opportunities on 8(a) STARS II. In addition, the 204 current 8(a) firms and 45 Joint Venture firms also now are able to compete for up to $7 billion in new opportunities.
  3. A 2-year PoP will allow 8(a) program graduates the opportunity to transition out of the STARS II program. Both GSA and SBA provide a wide variety of training courses and other resources to assist small businesses that have graduated from the 8(a) Program with positioning themselves to win Federal contracts. Examples include training and guidance on finding Federal procurement opportunities, pursuing small business set asides, and becoming a mentor-protege. More information is available at SBA Learning Center and GSA Small Business.

STARS II is a flexible and high-performing contract that agencies need now more than ever as we navigate new ways of providing employee and citizen services. This contract vehicle is doing a lot of good and important work for industry and government during the pandemic and, as a good partner to the 8(a) community, we’re pleased to ensure that it can continue.

For more information, you can view a recording of our recent town hall with industry on the topic of the ceiling increase on YouTube.

What’s Next: The Future of the 8(a) STARS GWAC Program

We are excited to move forward to the next phase of the STARS franchise as we prepare for 8(a) STARS III. The solicitation for 8(a) STARS III was released on July 6, 2020.

We have developed an aggressive solicitation and evaluation timeline to make awards for 8(a) STARS III as soon as possible. The 8(a) STARS III GWAC will continue GSA’s commitment to providing world-class information technology solutions, and also add innovation in the areas of emerging technology and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS).

We expect STARS III to remain a go-to contract vehicle for agencies wanting to work with small, disadvantaged businesses, trusted for responsiveness to the IT solutions demands of our customer agencies.

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

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How can GSA improve future Small Business GWACs? Join us virtually on Thursday, August 27th at 3 pm Eastern to help.

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GSA’s VETS 2 GWAC Celebrates 2nd Birthday with 50th Task Order Award

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on April 21, 2020

Since GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) opened for business in 2018, agencies from across the federal government have discovered its talented contractor pool, easy ordering, and competitive pricing as a great resource to meet their technology requirements. VETS 2 also benefits agencies by offering both Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned (SDVO) small business credit and access to a coveted Best-in-Class contract solution. This has resulted in 50 task order awards valued at nearly $600M in just over two years.

It’s easy to see why this GWAC has grown so popular. VETS 2 provides access to 69 highly qualified companies capable of completing virtually any IT service requirement, including emerging technologies like agile software development, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. VETS 2 also happens to be the only GWAC in the federal government that is set-aside exclusively for SDVO small businesses. These features make VETS 2 an excellent choice for customers looking to enhance business processes or solve a problem at their agencies.

In two short years, DOD and civilian agencies have utilized VETS 2 for a range of mission-critical requirements; including cybersecurity, IT helpdesk services, data analytics and an agency-wide web conferencing solution. With agencies continuing to identify GSA Best-in-Class GWACs as preferred sources for IT requirements, the future is bright for VETS 2.

Agencies interested in hearing more about VETS 2 are invited to participate in a future webinar hosted by the GSA VETS 2 team. Information about future training can be found at www.gsa.gov/vets2. Questions pertaining to VETS 2 can also be sent to vets2@gsa.gov.

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

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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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Access to Innovation Made Easy

Posted by Bill Zielinski
on March 26, 2019

Looking to meet your emerging technology requirements? Look no further than Alliant 2, a Best-in-Class solution from GSA, if you need:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or
  • other types of emerging technologies

When it comes to emerging and innovative technology, Alliant 2 has you covered– its flexible scope fulfills any need you have for IT services.

When we awarded the Alliant 2 contract, we selected only those companies that could demonstrate expertise in leading-edge technologies and an ability to adapt to new technologies.  To get an Alliant 2 award, our Alliant 2 industry partners submitted some 978 unique, leading-edge technology projects valued at or above $1M per project, providing verified experience in:   

Artificial Intelligence – 61 projects
Autonomic Computing – 72 projects
Big Data – 119 Projects
Biometrics – 80 projects
Cloud Computing – 107 projects
Cybersecurity – 128 projects
Health Information Technology (HIT) – 104 projects
Internet of Things (IoT) – 85 projects
Mobile IT – 108 projects
Virtual Networking – 114 projects

Additionally, Alliant 2 industry partners have prime experience on more than 200 DLT projects, and hundreds of RPA projects with tens of thousands of bots deployed.

If you need IT services, including any technology new to your agency, you don’t need to look elsewhere or reinvent the wheel. Chances are great that GSA has got you covered. We built Alliant 2 with you and your evolving technology needs in mind.

Visit our website to learn more about Alliant 2 or find the vehicle that’s right for you with 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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GSA’s VETS 2 GWAC Open for Business

Posted by Kay Ely
on March 22, 2018

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

Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) is now open for business and ready to accept task orders.

VETS 2 is the only GWAC in the federal government set aside exclusively for Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB).  It’s designed to meet diverse agency IT services requirements, including new and emerging technologies. SDVOSBs are foundational to helping the government make important changes to modernize aging and legacy IT systems.  GSA is committed to ensuring we tap into their expertise through contracts like VETS 2.

Like its successful predecessor, VETS 2 provides agencies with access to customized IT solutions from a highly qualified pool of industry partners.  The original VETS contract helped participating SDVOSB businesses deliver $2.1 billion in services and solutions to the federal government. We’d like to match or exceed that on VETS 2.

In developing the new VETS 2, we performed an unprecedented amount of market research that centered around customer and industry feedback.  In addition to issuing a request for information (RFI) and draft request for proposal (RFP), we also surveyed hundreds of past and current GWAC ordering contracting officers, created a government customer working group, and used the feedback to enhance the offering.

VETS 2 GWAC highlights include:

  • Best-in-Class – VETS 2 is a Best-in-Class (BIC) contract designated by the Office of Management and Budget as a preferred governmentwide solution
  • Comprehensive Scope – VETS 2 meets a variety of diverse agency IT requirements, including new and emerging technologies
  • Flexible Contract Types – fixed price, cost reimbursement, time & materials, and labor hour orders are all allowed
  • Allows for Long-Term Planning – VETS 2 has a five-year base period and one five-year option period
  • Robust Contractor Pool – VETS 2 provides access to 70 highly qualified SDVOSB firms
  • Socioeconomic Impact – VETS 2 helps federal agencies support our veteran community while achieving their prime contract goals using SDVOSBs

IT Services Scope

In addition to common IT services that the federal government regularly purchases, VETS 2 also fulfills projects that require new or emerging IT services.

Scope includes, but is not limited to:

  • Data management
  • Information and communications technology
  • IT operations and maintenance
  • IT security
  • Software development
  • Systems design

We look forward to working with you through the VETS 2 GWAC as we continue our commitment to providing IT solutions with the ongoing help of the veteran community.

For more information, including how to order, please visit www.gsa.gov/VETS2 or contact us at VETS2@gsa.gov.

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

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Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) GWAC Awarded

Posted by Kay Ely
on November 2, 2017

If small businesses are the backbone to our economy, then veterans of the armed forces are the backbone of our country. Even after their sacrifices through military service, many veterans continue to serve our great nation by providing innovative information technology (IT) solutions to government.

GSA prides itself on delivering mission critical IT solutions that make a meaningful difference to the agencies we support and the citizens that count on them. This philosophy is at the center of our development of new IT contract vehicles and I’m proud that it played a vital role as GSA created our new Veterans Technology Services 2 (VETS 2) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

VETS 2 – a unique acquisition vehicle

The new VETS 2 GWAC is a unique contribution to the federal acquisition community — the only GWAC set-aside exclusively for Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). VETS 2 is designed to be flexible enough to meet diverse agency IT requirements, including new and emerging technologies. VETS 2 also enables GSA to continue its support of the SDVOSB Procurement Program, while helping federal agencies achieve their socio-economic goals.

Contract development at its best

Lessons learned from our original VETS contract played a big role in building VETS 2, as did extensive market research. In conjunction with issuing a request for information (RFI) and draft request for proposal (RFP), we also surveyed hundreds of past and current GWAC ordering contracting officers, created a government customer working group, and utilized a GSA Interact page to collaborate with more than 1,000 members from industry and government to design VETS 2. The result is a multiple award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract with a best-in-class designation and 70 of the world’s premier SDVOSB IT service providers.

What’s new with VETS 2

All of the team’s research and due diligence, coupled with VETS success resulted in a VETS 2 contract that is even better than its predecessor. New key features include:

  • The ability for cost-type contracts
  • An expanded scope for virtually any IT services-based solution – including cybersecurity and new, emerging technologies
  • An overall simplified contract through the elimination of functional areas – a simplified scope covering all IT services
  • A larger pool of suppliers — an even greater proportion of which now hold International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certifications, facility clearances levels, audited/approved cost accounting systems, and experience working with multiple agencies.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about the launch of VETS 2 as we continue our commitment to providing IT solutions with the ongoing help of the veteran community.

For more information, please visit www.gsa.gov/VETS2 or contact VETS2@gsa.gov.

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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8(a) STARS II GWAC Continues Win-Win for Government Customers and Small Businesses

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 15, 2017

(Editorial note: This blog is written by Kay Ely, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology Category)

Moving government IT capabilities forward to meet the operational challenges of the 21st century is not a one person job – it requires a balance of government and industry, especially small businesses, all collaborating and working together. Our small business Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) vendors have years of experience in finding that balance and the numbers to show for it. With more than 3,200 task order awards valued at $5.3 billion since 2011, the 8(a) STARS II GWAC delivers on its promises to federal agencies and provides abundant opportunity for small businesses.

During a recent open season, we added approximately 500 industry partners to GSA’s 8(a) STARS II GWAC. This increase in qualified vendors enhances opportunities to small businesses while moving the federal government forward with more competitive and innovative sources of IT services.

The open season awards, announced on June 13, 2017, help GSA continue our support of the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program while assisting agencies in meeting their small business goals, operational requirements, and mission needs.

Helping promote small business growth

Conducting an open season solicitation on the existing 8(a) STARS II contract allowed hundreds of new 8(a) IT firms to join the GWAC, giving them access to federal procurement opportunities that may have previously been closed to them. It increases competition and allows GSA to offer an even stronger pool of diverse and capable vendors to our customer agencies.

Providing federal agencies flexible IT solutions

Like all of our GWACs, the 8(a) STARS II GWAC is a multiple-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract designed to provide federal agencies cutting-edge technology solutions.

It includes four functional areas, derived from the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS):

  • Custom Computer Programming Services (NAICS 541511)
  • Computer Systems Design Services (NAICS 541512)
  • Computer Facilities Management Services (NAICS 541513)
  • Other Computer Related Services (NAICS 541519)

I welcome our newest industry partners and wish them much success working with us. I encourage acquisition professionals to learn more about 8(a)STARS II and use it for their next IT acquisition.

Learn how the 8(a) STARS II GWAC can help you with your IT requirements.

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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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