Listening, Learning, Acting: Customer Needs Are Front and Center in FY21

Posted by Laura Stanton
on January 12, 2022

The recent White House customer experience Executive Order holds government agencies accountable for “designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve.”

This philosophy of centering service around an individual customer’s experience is easy to comprehend but tough to execute. Our goal is to help agencies deliver on their missions to the public. To do that, we connect them with businesses offering approved, secure technology solutions that are customer-centric, cost effective, and compliant.

ITC was able to perform well in FY21 by listening closely to customers and taking action based on their needs. Whether working with agencies federal, state, local, or tribal, big or small, we consistently get asked the same questions:

  • Can you guide me through finding the solution I need and help me acquire it efficiently?
  • How can you save me money on the solution I need?
  • Can you ensure that the solutions I purchase are compliant with regulations and security directives?

In FY21, ITC provided a model for how government employees can thrive in remote work environments. We conducted a great deal of government business despite supply chain and other pandemic-related challenges, recording over $32 Billion of business volume. We improved CX in buying and selling technology and saved our customers time and money, modernized their networks, and secured their systems. We welcomed 315 new small and disadvantaged businesses onto the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) in FY21. These efforts are ongoing, but have underpinned much federal government success during the pandemic.

Back to basics – meeting customer needs

Customers come to ITC to enlist the help of our acquisition specialists and subject matter experts. We want to provide a convenient, consolidated acquisition experience that is time-efficient and provides the best value to our customers. We currently manage 23 contract programs and more than 4,700 vendors on the Multiple Award Schedule, of which 52% are small businesses. Small and disadvantaged businesses saw a 23% increase in business volume from FY20 to FY21!

Creating taxpayer value – ITC sees record revenue in FY21

Customers buy through GSA to leverage the full buying power of the government. In FY21, we recorded more than $32.3B in business volume through our contracts. For context, this accounts for 35% of the $92.9B total that was appropriated for IT across all federal agencies during the fiscal year. ITC accounted for more than $2.3B in savings to our government customers, a 7.7% increase from FY20.

There is a good reason agencies are using our Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommended Best-In-Class (BIC) solutions during this pandemic spending period. Our price analysis tools, upfront market research, transactional data, and the great value of offerings on Schedule can’t be found elsewhere. Our success exemplifies the trust that our customer agencies have placed in our ability to help them meet their missions.

Securing the stack – keeping our industry partners accountable

Security mandates such as Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM), Cybersecurity-Supply Chain Risk Management (C-SCRM), The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 889, and The Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity are crucial to the nation’s digital and physical safety.

The line between physical and virtual security has blurred as threats have become more complex, and complying with these security mandates is crucial to agency customers. That’s why ITC adds these mandates and others into our master contracts — to streamline proof of compliance for industry and allow agencies to focus on mission delivery.

ITC helps ensure that the products and services our customers buy will comply with federal law and safeguard their network’s security. Large contracts like our 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) hardware/software blanket purchase agreement have SCRM built in as a key operational component.

GSA tools like the new Verified Products Portal (VPP) help identify authorized resellers to enhance SCRM capabilities. Security and cybersecurity approaches and policy are ever-evolving, and GSA recognizes both as core acquisition tenets. We understand the considerable responsibility we have for agencies’ IT health.

Looking ahead

We’re looking forward to finalizing several exciting efforts in 2022. We are bolstering our Cloud marketplace with a one-stop shop BPA, which will be awarded in phases. Polaris (our contract replacement for Alliant 2 Small Business) will release its Request For Proposal in Q2, with awards to be made later in the year. As the September 2022 Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) transition deadline quickly approaches, we are in the process of assisting agencies as they award remaining task orders and ultimately disconnect from old telecommunications contracts.

We’ll continue to view things through the lens of our customers, facilitating direct conversations with stakeholders and providing the products, services, and attention needed to achieve agency missions. Our goal is a customer experience that prioritizes cost-efficiency, expediency, and security. You can buy with confidence when you work with the Information Technology Category.

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IT GWAC Roundup

Posted by Laura Stanton
on December 17, 2021

We’ve had so much news about our small business Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) over the last few months. I continue to get questions and requests for status updates from our friends in industry, so I thought it would be helpful to pull the latest updates together in one place. 

I’ll start by reminding everyone why we stand these contracts up. GSA’s small business GWACs enable the important missions of agencies across the federal government and drive progress on vital public policy objectives including the President’s Executive Order 13985 On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) released by the Biden-Harris Administration in November.  

GSAs GWACs support the PMA in some key ways, including delivering mission-enabling technologies across government. They support deep relationships with the supplier community, helping industry understand how the PMA drives new and emerging government IT requirements to support key initiatives such as improving citizen interactions with the government and equipping the federal workforce to effectively deliver for the public. GWACs also make it easier for new suppliers, especially small and disadvantaged businesses, to gain valuable growth opportunities through the federal IT marketplace.

As we close out the year, there’s a flurry of activity in ITC around our GWACs and I am very proud and excited about the work my team is doing.

Polaris

Polaris will bring innovation to the small business community, federal agencies, and the acquisition workforce leading to substantial benefits to small businesses, improved technology for federal agencies, and greater flexibility for acquisition professionals across government.

Initial priorities on Polaris will be the creation of 4 pools to accommodate set-asides for:

  • small businesses; 
  • women-owned small businesses (WOSB); 
  • service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB), and 
  • businesses located in HUBZones.

We will solicit and award Polaris in phases to help our customers deliver on their missions and meet their socio-economic goals.

Our first priority is to release the request for proposals (RFP) for the small business and WOSB pools in late January/February 2022. The small business pool will be awarded first, in 2022. The WOSB pool will be awarded second. The HUBZone and SDVOSB RFPs and awards will follow.

Keep an eye on our Small Business GWAC Community of Interest for updates.

8(a) STARS III

8(a) STARS III successfully launched this summer with a 5-year base period, 3-year option, and a $50 billion ceiling to give agencies plenty of runway to plan for the future. The 2021 award was an important first step with an initial cohort of more than 400 8(a) industry partners gaining new access to the federal IT marketplace. 

This is a big deal for the Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB) community and we’re excited to see how they turn these opportunities into great outcomes.

We are working closely with our partners on a second 8(a) STARS III cohort for award in Q2 FY22 — stay tuned!

VETS 2

The VETS 2 GWAC is humming right along. In just 3.5 years, VETS 2 has an estimated $1.94 billion value from 148 task orders.

VETS 2 gives agencies access to a wide variety of customized IT services and solutions. It also helps agencies receive SDVOSB credit toward their Small Business Procurement Scorecard and Best-in-Class (BIC) Tier 3 credit toward Spend Under Management goals.

We’re committed to the SDVOSB community. VETS 2 will have a strong future as part of GSA’s suite of IT contract solutions for many years to come. We’re taking the necessary steps to execute the option period and doing all that we can to cement VETS 2’s future.

Together, VETS 2 and Polaris will deliver on our commitment to SDVOSBs. They’ll continue to provide value for our customers well into the future and help ensure there will be no gap in access to SDVOSB contract offerings from GSA.

Looking to the Future

The highly qualified companies on our GWACs (and those to come) can complete almost any IT service requirement including agile software development, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and other emerging technologies.

As we look toward 2022, GSA will remain focused on providing important solutions for our industry partners and customer agencies. It will remain a top priority for us in the new year.

Follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn, and subscribe for blog updates.

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GSA Celebrates American Veterans

Posted by Laura Stanton
on November 10, 2021

This Veterans Day, I’m contemplating GSA’s long history of working with service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB). I’m proud of the work they do every day to help agencies across the federal government achieve their mission.

Our Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) like VETS 2 demonstrate our ongoing commitment to our Veteran community – and I want to make sure I communicate clearly that we believe VETS 2 will continue its success and have a strong future as part of GSA’s suite of IT contract solutions for many years to come. We’re taking the necessary steps to execute the option period and doing all that we can to cement VETS 2’s future.

VETS 2: the right IT solutions, right now

In just 3 ½ years, VETS 2 has an estimated $1.87 billion value from 145 task order awards.

VETS 2 gives agency customers access to a wide variety of customized IT services and solutions. It also helps agencies receive SDVOSB credit toward their Small Business Procurement Scorecard and Best-in-Class (BIC) Tier 3 credit toward Spend Under Management goals.

The highly qualified companies on VETS 2 can complete almost any IT service requirement including agile software development, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and other emerging technologies.

SDVOSB pool on Polaris

In addition to our ongoing support for VETS 2, GSA is broadening opportunities for Veterans to work with the federal government. We recently announced a new contract pool for SDVOSB firms on Polaris, a new next-generation GWAC.

Polaris will bring more innovation to the small business community, federal agencies, and the acquisition workforce. This innovation will lead to substantial benefits for small businesses, improved technology for federal agencies, and greater flexibility for acquisition professionals across government.

Polaris will have 4 pools: small business, women-owned small business (WOSB), SDVOSB and businesses located in HUBZones. These pools will be awarded in phases to help our customers deliver on their missions and meet their socio-economic goals.

Our first priority is to release the request for proposals (RFP) for the small business and WOSB pools January 2022. The small business pool will be awarded first, later in the year. The HUBZone and SDVOSB RFPs and awards will follow.

Subscribe to our Small Business Community of Interest on GSA Interact to keep up to date.

Veterans help government through two GSA GWACs

We’re committed to the SDVOSB community. Together, VETS 2 and Polaris will deliver on our commitment to SDVOSBs. They’ll continue to deliver value for our customers well into the future and help ensure there will be no gap in access to SDVOSB contract offerings.

Find out more about VETS 2 and discover customer training opportunities at www.gsa.gov/vets2. Please send any questions to vets2@gsa.gov.

Additional information about Polaris can be found at www.gsa.gov/polaris. Please send any questions to polaris@gsa.gov.

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Bringing GSA’s Polaris GWAC to Life

Posted by Laura Stanton
on September 22, 2021

We’re proud of the work we do to support agency missions at GSA, and we recognize the very important role small businesses play in making that a reality.

GSA’s GWAC heritage

We’ve promoted the growth of the small business community in the US for decades. Through GSA’s Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) program, we have built a solid foundation that connects the small business community to the federal IT market, promoting access to innovation, and supporting job creation nationwide. For decades, the GSA GWACs have served as a springboard for companies to grow and create jobs and opportunities.

Since the late 1990s, GSA’s GWACs have served as a gateway for federal agencies to access highly qualified information technology (IT) vendors. And, since their inception, customers have relied upon our small business GWACs to fulfill over $27 billion in IT requirements for agencies across government.

Small Business GWACs serving your mission

We want to keep improving on these important solutions to ensure they remain the contracts of choice for our industry partners and customer agencies. We’ve been hard at work on our current and next generation of contracts.

8(a) STARS III successfully launched (with more awards to come) this summer with a 5-year base period, 3-year option, and a $50 billion ceiling to give agencies plenty of runway into the future. This is a big deal for the Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB) community and we’re excited to see how they turn these opportunities into great outcomes! Even though 8(a) STARS II has officially sunset, existing task orders will continue being worked for several more years.

VETS 2 is humming along. With a little over three years of performance so far the contract already has $1.68B in total estimated value from 122 task orders. Agencies depend on VETS 2 every day to meet their missions.

With the creation of Polaris, our next small business GWAC, we’ll build on the success of these programs and become the first GSA GWAC to feature multiple socioeconomic groups through a single offering.

Polaris, a bright future

Polaris will bring innovation to the small business community, federal agencies, and the acquisition workforce leading to substantial benefits to small businesses, improved technology for federal agencies, and greater flexibility for acquisition professionals across government.

Polaris will also drive progress on important public policy objectives including the President’s Executive Order 13985 On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. Initial priorities on Polaris will be the creation of pools to accommodate set-asides for small businesses; women-owned small businesses (WOSB); service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB), and businesses located in HUBZones to help deliver on their mission and meet their socio-economic goals.

We are developing a dynamic contracting program that provides flexibility to establish additional industry partner pools on Polaris in the future as we continue to assess technology trends and changing customer needs.

The resulting approach incorporates feedback from agencies and industry, and includes ways to ensure that the technology remains relevant and the latest acquisition policies are used.

Through Polaris, we will:

  • Establish a pre-qualified industrial base that government agencies can tap into with confidence and ease
  • Bring multiple socioeconomic categories onto one vehicle to provide agencies with convenient access to small disadvantaged IT service providers
  • Enable agencies to acquire state-of-the-art IT services in a compliant and cost-effective manner

The overarching strategy shaping our approach to Polaris includes:

  • Providing greater opportunities to small businesses by removing barriers to entry and providing additional training and engagement with industry
  • Supporting greater equity in government contracting
  • Connecting agencies with highly qualified technology providers
  • Improving ease of use for agencies, industry partners, and GSA employees

Key Polaris features that we’re aiming for:

  • Periodic refreshment of the industrial base through on-ramps
  • Access to emerging technologies
  • No-price awards with pricing negotiated at the task order level — to promote competition.
  • Inclusion of a technical refresh clause that can be triggered as needed to adapt to customer needs.
  • Support for IT modernization and emerging technologies capabilities by offering the latest in cloud offerings from storage services to quantum computing services
  • Catalog of service offerings
  • A maximum 10-year ordering period
  • No contract ceiling
  • Leverage the cloud business model for service offerings

Polaris will also include supply chain risk management (SCRM) and cybersecurity requirements similar to those that were included in the 8(a) STARS III GWAC.

Polaris will support GSA’s goals to help agencies reach their sustainability goals, reduce the environmental impact of the federal government, make the work environment more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and protect the environment by fostering markets for sustainable IT technologies and services.

Many of you have had questions about how teaming arrangements and joint ventures will work on Polaris. In a soon-to-be-released update to our draft solicitation, we’ll be including guidance on how joint ventures will be scored.

Navigating the Future

As we work to bring Polaris to market we have a very busy fall season lined up.

We’re working to release an updated draft of the Polaris solicitation for sections L and M and the scorecard, and we’ll welcome your feedback on those. Keep an eye on our Small Business GWAC Community of Interest page for that.

We met with our VETS 2 Industry Partners about the inclusion of an SDVOSB pool on Polaris and we’re actively gathering their input.

GSA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is hosting an event on Wednesday, September 29th: Small Business Works 2021: Level Up & Network Series. Be sure to catch it.

We’re also planning a focused GSA Polaris Industry Forum for Wednesday, October 20th, and we encourage our small business industry partners to attend. Register Here

Finally, we’re aiming for the final Polaris solicitation to be released in short order with a pre-proposal conference to follow shortly thereafter.

I’m so proud of the work that our team has done on our small business GWACs, and we really couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds. Stay tuned to our Small Business GWAC Community of Interest page on GSA Interact for the latest updates.


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8(a) STARS III GWAC Phased Awards Will Support Maximum Opportunities for 8(a) Businesses

Posted by Laura Stanton
on May 5, 2021

GSA takes its commitment to the small business community very seriously, and we’re excited about the progress we’re making toward the award of the 8(a) STARS III Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

We’re happy to announce that we intend to move forward with phased awards to different cohorts as outlined in the solicitation. Over the last week, GSA notified STARS III offerors of their inclusion in the competitive range. Awards to an initial cohort are planned for June 2021 with awards to another cohort planned later in the calendar year after discussions.

In the spirit of the 8(a) program, GSA is pleased to hold discussions which will afford firms an opportunity to revise their offers in order to qualify for an award.

As GSA’s fourth-generation 8(a) GWAC, STARS III is a multiple-award indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (MA-ID/IQ) contract designed to provide federal agencies with innovative IT services-based solutions from vetted 8(a) small disadvantaged businesses, in support of meeting their socioeconomic contracting goals. Through STARS III, agencies can access award-winning 8(a) firms through an established contract vehicle, saving time and taxpayer money over open-market methods.

Agency customers who are interested in using the 8(a) STARS III GWAC are encouraged to monitor GSA events for upcoming delegation of procurement authority training available to both contracting and requirements personnel. Customers may also register to receive notifications regarding upcoming training.

Visit our website to learn more about STARS III or use our IT Solutions Navigator to find the vehicle that’s right for you.

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

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Introducing the IT Vendor Management Office: a new government-wide collaborative effort to solve the toughest challenges in federal IT acquisitions

Posted by Vera Ashworth
on April 27, 2021

The last months have been a whirlwind of activity for the new government-wide Information Technology Vendor Management Office (ITVMO). We not only chartered the ITVMO, but have started working with several partner agencies and IT acquisition experts from across government to identify existing resources that can assist agencies with their buying decisions. The ITVMO brings together the most critical players in the federal IT acquisition landscape to solve challenges agencies and vendors face when buying and selling IT products and solutions.

Launched in October 2020, the ITVMO is a government-wide effort to amplify the benefits of managing vendor engagement in the IT Category to make IT acquisitions faster and more cost effective. The ITVMO serves as a trusted independent advisor and advocate to help agencies buy common IT goods and services. As a one-stop shop, the ITVMO will leverage government-wide IT procurement data, conduct market research, and develop shared agency acquisition knowledge to support agencies’ buying decisions.

There are many programs and initiatives across government that are interested in improving how government buys IT. The ITVMO is unique in that it is a collaborative effort amongst partners in Category Management (CM) with the most critical IT acquisition Best in Class (BIC) contract vehicles and associated programs including:

  • The General Services Administration (GSA);
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA);
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH);
  • The Department of Defense (DOD);
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).

Through this collaboration, the ITVMO will advance the goals of IT Category Management (CM) to improve how the government buys common IT goods and services and enable the government to act more as a single entity by sharing best practices and acquisition intelligence as well as eliminating the unnecessary duplication and redundancy that exists between federal agencies.

What’s Happening & What’s Next

One of the central drivers of CM is to mature federal IT acquisitions so that the government acts more like a single buyer rather than many independent agencies. By creating a space where some of the biggest and most impactful federal IT acquisitions programs and initiatives can collaborate and solve shared problems, establishing the ITVMO is a major step toward that goal.

The ITVMO is chartered and led by an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) comprised of several agencies including those with the largest IT BIC vehicles. The ESC determines the strategic direction and project priorities for the ITVMO to solve problems for agencies and vendors alike.

To identify shared challenges and opportunities throughout government, the ITVMO surveyed hundreds of IT and acquisition experts including the Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC) and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council (CAOC) as well as several communities of practices. The ITVMO team also conducted listening sessions with industry groups. The data and feedback gathered from across government is driving the challenges the ITVMO seeks to address in the near future.

ITVMO Customer Segments

The ITVMO’s primary customers are the programs and offices responsible for making buying decisions at each agency, and the vendor community. On January 27th, the ITVMO hosted an Open House for agencies to provide an overview of the ITVMO’s mission and services, and to answer any questions from the community. More information about the ITVMO Open House, including a video recording of the event, is available to government employees.

Based on customer feedback, the ITVMO is working on several products and services that will be made available to agencies in the near future, including:

  • Continuing a Small Business Webinar Series developed in partnership with the IT Government-wide Category and the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council Small Business Alliance so agencies and vendors can learn how GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service Multiple Award Schedules Program will allow agencies to more easily procure IT products and services from small businesses.
  • Vendor Profiles that provide agencies with pricing information, specific vendors’ terms and conditions, and best practices for negotiating with that vendor.
  • Deep Vendor Intelligence crowdsourced from IT acquisition experts from across the federal government participating in integrated project teams (IPTs).
  • A Technology Life Cycle Assessment to provide agencies with insights into buying emerging technology and updating existing systems and services to meet evolving needs.
  • A deep dive and review of current Cost Avoidance Methodologies used by IT BIC acquisitions vehicles. The ITVMO is working closely with GSA’s IT Category to provide recommendations on how to improve the accuracy and reliability of cost avoidance methodologies and the underlying contract data.

If any of the above interest you, we would love to connect with you. Please feel free to reach out to the ITVMO inbox at itvmo@gsa.gov.

Coming Soon…

The ITVMO recently launched the first of several IPTs made up of the federal government’s foremost experts in working and negotiating with specific IT vendors. The IPTs will produce recommendations and strategies that can be shared and leveraged throughout government.

ITVMO - Integrated Project Teams

On May 12, 2021, The ITVMO will also host an Industry Day intended for our industry and vendor partners to learn about the mission of the ITVMO and the best way to collaborate with the ITVMO and federal IT acquisitions staff.

Finally, the ITVMO will soon launch our website to share the ITVMO’s latest updates and activities, post relevant templates and resources, and direct users to the relevant information to meet their IT acquisition needs.

Additional insight can be found on our ITVMO MAX page, and you can sign up for our newsletter. If you have any questions or general inquiries, please feel free to reach out to us at the ITVMO inbox at itvmo@gsa.gov.

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

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FY20: Exceptional Work in an Exceptional Year

Posted by Laura Stanton
on March 30, 2021

The Numbers Are In – Biggest Year on Record for GSA ITC!

In Fiscal Year 2020, the Information Technology Category (ITC) recorded more than $30 billion in business volume across its portfolio. For context, this accounts for nearly a third (33%) of the $89 billion total that was spent on IT across all federal agencies in FY20.

Accordingly, this past fiscal year proved to be a record year in other categories as well:

  • IT spending through the Multiple Award Schedule accounted for an impressive $18.1 billion of the $30 Billion total, bolstered by its $12.7 Billion in new obligations. In FY20, MAS IT impressively posted 18% annual growth in new obligations.
  • On the Small Business front, ITC accounted for $7.1 Billion in utilization from Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), Schedules, and Telecommunications
  • ITC issued a single award via its telecommunications branch to the tune of $2.5 Billion, using the Enterprise Infrastructure Service (EIS) Contract. The award was made on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services, and over the lifetime of the contract, the agency estimates it will save more than $700 million.
  • ITC accounted for more than $2 billion in savings and cost avoidance to their customers

FY20 Efforts in Review

The 2020 Fiscal Year drove change through every part of our lives. COVID-19 spurred dramatic change in government work culture and led to rapid technological adaptation across all agencies. A good deal of ITC’s increased business volume can be attributed to agencies transitioning to mobile-friendly technology. However, this unprecedented spending is also due to agencies acknowledging that GSA is a solid partner as they make big IT changes and choices about how to invest. We’re out front and focused when it comes to customer service, agile response to emergency needs, and delivery of mission-enabling and emerging technologies.

In 2020, customer agencies turned to GSA’s schedules program, assisted acquisition services and governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWAC) to fulfill pandemic-driven requirements as well as regular demand for products and services. Our success embodies the trust that federal agencies have put in us and our ability to address elements that our customers most care about:

  • Speed of acquisition
  • Assistance with mobile-friendly technology adoption
  • Technical and market expertise
  • Data transparency
  • General customer service

Agencies have turned to and relied on us to ensure their mission continuity and transition to a more untethered workforce.

In FY20, ITC launched the Information Technology Acquisition University (ITAU) to make it easier to learn about GSA’s products, IT solutions available through GWACs, MAS, and more. ITAU is a digital training platform for emerging technologies, their acquisition, GSA-specific contract training and more.

Additionally, ITC enhanced the Cloud Information Center, the GSA-curated federal resource hub for all things cloud, continuing to place valuable cloud computing resources in the hands of agencies.

These resources are ways that GSA is meeting the rise in demand for virtual access to our subject matter experts and more online learning platforms.

Looking Forward

In FY21, GSA is doubling down on emerging technologies as the way of the future. The 8(a) STARS III and Polaris government-wide acquisition vehicles will have Artificial Intelligence offerings (Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Natural Language Processing), edge computing and more. As the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) effort ramps up and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) principles are emphasized, GSA will continue to prioritize security as a core tenet of acquisitions.

As my Deputy Assistant Commissioner Keith Nakasone likes to remind me, agencies are coming to GSA to leverage our IT expertise and the buying power of the government. They want to know that the products they’re adding to their IT footprint aren’t jeopardizing their networks. To that end, the CMMC level can be designated as needed at the task order requirement level. Large contracts such as the 2nd Generation Information Technology (2GIT) hardware/software Blanket Purchase Agreements, have SCRM built in as a key operational component. Ultimately, GSA understands it plays a crucial role and has a considerable responsibility for an agency’s IT health.

Going into FY22, ITC will continue to provide the tools needed to successfully modernize while prioritizing cost-efficiency, expediency, and security. Leveraging Best In Class (BIC) contracts is one way. Taking advantage of online resources like ITAU and the CIC is another. Give your agency a reason to acquire with confidence — work with GSA for your next IT acquisition.

As always, 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 Celebrates 3rd Year Anniversary

Posted by Laura Stanton
on February 23, 2021

February 23, 2021 marks the third anniversary for GSA’s VETS 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Customers from across the federal government have used VETS 2 for a wide variety of IT Services while also receiving Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) credit toward their Small Business Procurement Scorecard, as well as Best-in-Class (BIC) Tier 3 credit toward Spend Under Management goals. I’m pleased to report that in just three years, VETS 2 has more than 100 task order awards with a total estimated value at approximately $1.1 billion.

VETS 2 provides access to 69 highly qualified companies capable of completing virtually any IT service requirement, including agile software development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other emerging technologies. Customers have used VETS 2 for a wide range of mission-critical requirements, including a web conferencing solution at GSA, a cybersecurity support project for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an IT service desk for the US Air Force, to name a few. With strategic partners like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Treasury identifying GSA Best-in-Class GWACs as preferred sources for IT requirements, the future is bright for VETS 2.

I couldn’t be more proud of the VETS 2 program team and our small business industry partners – the work they do makes a real difference. With an initial period of performance through February 22, 2023, and a five-year option until February 22, 2028, VETS 2 has a lot of runway to help your agency achieve its mission.

For more information on specific task orders on VETS 2, visit the Governmentwide Acquisition Contract Dashboards page. Additional information about the contract and training opportunities can be found at the VETS 2 page. Please send questions about VETS 2 to vets2@gsa.gov.

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

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Polaris: Women Owned Small Businesses, Get SBA Certified

Posted by Keith Nakasone
on January 11, 2021

On December 31, 2020, GSA released the Draft Request For Proposal (RFP) for comment for our next generation small business GWAC, Polaris. With the creation of Polaris, GSA will build on the success of the now-expired Alliant Small Business GWAC by providing additional opportunities for small businesses, including but not limited to, HUBZone and woman-owned small business (WOSB) firms. We couldn’t be more proud of our team for putting this together, and we’re looking forward to your feedback.

WOSBs are Key Contributors

As we indicated in the draft RFP, GSA is considering socioeconomic pools to include WOSBs to maximize competition within the Information Technology Category. It’s very important to GSA that WOSBs are included in our contracts as they are key contributors to the government marketplace. It’s vital that the government have access to a robust pool of SBA certified WOSBs to ensure access to as broad of an industrial base as possible.

GSA is encouraging WOSBs to respond to the draft RFP to help ensure the following:

  1. there is a sufficient pool of WOSBs that are SBA certified
  2. to meet the annual federal goal of 5 percent of all federal contract dollars spent being awarded to WOSBs
  3. to help increase competition in the IT emerging technologies and innovations space.

You’re a WOSB, Why Get Involved?

In FY20, the federal government invested more than $87 billion in IT, with approximately $47 billion allocated to IT services. Federal agencies awarded $15.6 billion in IT services to small businesses, with more than $5 billion awarded through IT Category contracts. Every day, small businesses are making a huge impact in helping agencies achieve their missions.

SBA WOSB Certification

As of July 15, 2020, The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented Congress’ changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, as outlined in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

We’re encouraging WOSBs to work with the SBA, which implements and administers the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, in order to understand and navigate the certification process to ensure the right certifications are in place.

  • Before firms can compete for WOSB Federal Contracting Program set-aside (including Polaris) contracts, they must apply for certification through the new process on beta.certify.sba.gov
  • For more information about the new application process, please review the following fact sheet.
  • Additionally, beta.Certify Knowledge Base is a valuable resource for firms to get started learning about this new platform with how-to videos, user guides.

WOSBs, Helping Light the Way

We couldn’t be more excited about the future of our small business GWAC program and Polaris is going to help light the way. To be truly successful, we need your help in getting WOSBs certified.

To follow the Polaris conversation subscribe to the GSA Interact page: Small Business GWAC Community of Interest. Also, please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT.

To get updates for this blog, please sign up on the right-hand side of the page where it says Sign up for Blog Updates.

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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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