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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GSA’s Startup Springboard Speeds Access for Small Businesses to Government

Posted by Kay Ely
on December 7, 2017

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

Just a few years ago you’d be hard pressed to find a tech startup with a GSA contract.  But that’s a thing of the past, thanks in part to GSA’s innovative IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard, which offers new and smaller IT businesses an easier and faster way to get a Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract.

What is the Startup Springboard?

An integral part of GSA’s Making It Easier initiative, the IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard offers tech startups and young companies an alternative to the two-year professional experience requirement traditionally required of a company trying to get on a GSA Schedule.

With Springboard, prospective industry partners can use their executives’ professional backgrounds, key personnel’s project experience, and related financial documents to complete their IT Schedule 70 proposals.

Making It Easier

For years we heard from industry that the unique government requirement of two-years of corporate experience before becoming a schedule contractor caused problems for small businesses, and were particularly challenging for startups. Vendors had previously found it very difficult to navigate the complex path to getting on the schedule while customer agencies were not able to access the emerging technologies available in the market particularly from startups.

The Startup Springboard addresses our customers’ emerging technology needs by getting companies and their innovative solutions onto IT Schedule 70 and into the hands of customer agencies faster, increasing acquisition and operational efficiencies, providing greater opportunities for small businesses, and saving taxpayers money.

Success Stories

As of September 2017, 14 companies, 13 of them small businesses, have been awarded IT Schedule 70 contracts under the Startup Springboard initiative. Among them is Vricon, a provider of imagery solutions to the intelligence and military communities. Vricon had its first deal within a week of getting on IT Schedule 70: a $2 million contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). And with $5 million in sales to the government to date, the young company quickly helped us prove the Springboard really does what it was designed to do: make it easier for new and innovative companies to start working with government.

Security Solutions Technology (SST) had only been in business eight months before joining IT Schedule 70 through the Springboard program. SST provides IT and cybersecurity services and solutions to federal, state, and local government agencies and has more than $1.8 million in sales so far.

Springboard has also helped HUBZone and certified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) and woman-owned small businesses (WOSB) get on IT Schedule 70. See the complete list of businesses now on IT Schedule 70 that went through the Springboard process at the end of this blog post.

Bringing it All Together

The success of the IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard and our other tools is a direct result of our commitment to addressing longstanding concerns of industry partners and government agencies. We’re addressing our customers’ emerging technology needs by getting companies — and their innovative solutions — onto IT Schedule 70 faster.

For general information about the program, visit the IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard page.

The following companies have been added to IT Schedule 70 via the Startup Springboard since the program began in April 2016:

  • Alpine Consulting Partners, LLC — providing computer systems design services
  • Cambridge Federal, LLC — a HUBZone VOSB providing IT and Investigations and Security (I&S) Security: providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Coffmatech — an economically disadvantaged minority woman owned small business (EDWOSB) providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Concept to Integration Technologies,LLC — a service disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • The Crevalle Group, LLC — providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Nala Digital Solutions, Inc. — a SDVOSB providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Planet Defense, LLC — a woman owned business providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Resilient Solutions 21 LLC — providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Security Solutions Technology ,LLC — a veteran owned a VIP-certified SDVOSB providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Spathe Systems, LLC — an 8(A), small business, and SDVOSB-certified business providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Tangent Technologies, Inc. — a woman owned SDVOSB providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • TrussWorks, Inc. — providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services
  • Vricon, Inc. — providing commercial IT equipment, software, and services

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

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Better Pricing, Better Value, & Better Shopping Equals A Better Schedule 70

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 29, 2016

Since 1949, GSA’s mission has been to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology to government and the American people. We pursue this mission relentlessly, and have always welcomed input from all stakeholders as we seek new and effective ways to bring more value to our federal customers. That’s why we appreciate the recommendations presented in a recent audit by GSA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). Conducted between 2011 through early 2016, this audit  found that some contracts on GSA’s IT Schedule 70 offered identical products at widely varying prices. And that some items were being offered at prices higher than commercial sales.  

We agree with these concerns, which is why we have been working for the past three years to fundamentally transform the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program, reduce prices, and streamline processes. I’m a consumer too. I’ll come back to a store when I know I’m getting the best deal — anything to avoid going from store to store comparing prices. And that’s exactly what IT Schedule 70 shoppers have told us they want, too. As FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe laid out in his October 2015 blog, we’ve responded to our customers by working to meet that challenge. Over the past few years we’ve been adding new tools and innovations to IT Schedule 70 so that we can give our customers what they want: better pricing, better values and a better shopping experience.

We heard from procurement leaders across government that price variability on Schedules was a problem. In response, we spearheaded the Competitive Pricing Initiative (CPI), which looks at the current prices of identical products offered by suppliers through MAS and identifies opportunities for more competitive prices. Since it began in FY 2015, CPI has led to price reductions on roughly 1.4 million items across all of GSA’s 15 products Schedules –savings we passed directly to agencies.

Our customers told us it was difficult and time consuming to compare prices between different contractors. To fix this, we asked vendors to standardize part numbers and collected existing Universal Price Codes (UPCs). Now government buyers can more easily find and compare products and prices on Schedules.

To help small businesses that don’t have the resources to conduct extensive analyses, we added a Horizontal Pricing Analysis application to our e-toolbox. This market-research resource  provides MAS contracting officers (COs) with additional data to pass on to MAS suppliers so they can be as competitive as possible.

To help our COs navigate pricing in a rapidly moving IT market we implemented GSA Price Point (XSB), an automated tool that lets them compare products and evaluate prices of all existing and future GSA Advantage! product listings and contract price modifications.  

And we developed the Formatted Product Tool (FPT) to help our MAS contractors and COs negotiate competitive prices for products on Schedule. FPT automates price comparisons for identical items, removes burdensome processes for both vendors and federal buyers, and improves our customers’ GSA Advantage! experience.

All these tools and capabilities help government contracting professionals negotiate prices that are in line and competitive with government and commercial marketplace prices. They also provide transparency and better value to both the government and Industry. Central to GSA’s mission is that we deliver value to the federal government and the American people. While IT Schedule 70 is not perfect, we recognize the challenges we’re facing and have have taken concrete steps to make pricing more competitive and to provide the tools to help buyers make smart purchasing decisions.

However, we are aware that we must continue to address the very issues identified by the IG and continue to transform the MAS program, reducing prices and streamlining processes.

Since that study began in 2011, we have fundamentally changed the way we do business with industry and how our contracting officers work. We have made significant improvements as we tackle pricing issues across the Schedules program. At the same time, we have also cut the time it takes to award contracts, determined a new path for startups to get on Schedule faster, and strengthened our focus on compliance.  With the new Transactional Data Reporting pilot we’ll start to collect and share more information on what the government buys and how much we pay for products and services. After looking at all the changes we have implemented, and looking forward to the improvements we’ll be making down the road, I am more confident and proud than ever that IT Schedule 70 will continue to provide the very best value to all of our important stakeholders.

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