Working Hard to Improve Security, Safety, and Quality of Life for Americans

Posted by Mary Davie
on February 9, 2017

This blog post is part of a seven-part series reviewing the Acquisition Gateway and IT Category data, trends, expertise, and advocacy that GSA’s ​Office of Information Technology Category (ITC) organization offers to support other agencies’ missions.

(Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Telecommunications Services. Gavino is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements.)

ITC’s Office of Telecommunications Services provides a wide variety of offerings to federal, state and local governments which includes voice, video, data, managed network services, call center services, mobile and wireless, satellite services, last mile connections and much more. Because of our partnership with industry and our robust solution sets, we are able to provide government agencies seamless access and support, thus achieving shared value and expanding the benefits of modern technology. We’re continually transforming and enabling improvement to the security, safety, and quality of life for our nation and its citizens.

We enhance security by providing the communications services that connect law enforcement resources with information locally and worldwide to counter crime and terrorism. We also support the safety of our men and women in uniform, humanitarian relief, disaster-response, and counterterrorism efforts through satellites. And the telecommunications service we provide also improves government’s ability to respond  anywhere and anytime through mobile devices (i.e., tablets and wireless smartphones); enhances patient health care for veterans and aging population; supports farmers and ranchers; tracks wildlife and diseases; and ensures food safety and inspections.

A Look Back at 2016

We’re always trying to improve, and here are a few ways:

Simplifying, Standardizing, and Buying in Volume

The Category Management (CM) approach to simplify, standardize, and make use of volume to streamline enterprise-wide telecom is the focus of Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). CM helps us adapt our solutions as the industry changes and as agency needs change. For example, we’re being less local and more global to ensure agencies adopt security and unified communication technologies that comply with best practices.

Managing Telecom as a Subcategory

We are managing Telecom and all of our offerings in IT as a comprehensive portfolio and have technical, functional and acquisition experts to help agencies buy in a more efficient way and improve mission delivery.

Engaging Agencies and Industry

In 2016, GSA continued to engage agency and industry partners to shape the upcoming EIS, which will replace Networx and local and regional telecom services. We formed the EIS Infrastructure Advisory Group (IAG) to define priorities share best practices, plan for transition and ensure the final EIS solution meets government’s needs.

Optimizing Telecom Use and Spend

Because of our strong partnerships with agencies, GSA’s telecommunications program is recognized as “the government’s telecommunications program,” and as a result, we are able to aggregate and leverage more than $2 billion in annual spend and document over $675 million in savings.

Providing a Range of Purchasing Options

We recognize that ease of use is critical for our agency customers so we offer a range of purchasing solutions across our IT and telecommunications contracts — everything from self service through delegated procurement authority … to monitoring contract service level agreement achievement … to providing advice and consulting to providing fully assisted services.

Enhancing Agencies’ Understanding of Telecom Purchases

Telecom has been managed as a category for a while. Because of standard service definitions and contract terms in contracts like Networx, agencies can make “apples to apples” comparisons around services. This makes it easier for GSA and other agencies to make comparisons between suppliers and to get the best value for their purchases. And, because of the data we collect on purchasing, GSA can clearly see purchasing trends which shape future contracts (e.g., EIS, etc.) and our discussions with agencies and suppliers. We continually refine this data driven approach to supplier management to get better value for agencies and taxpayers.

Here is what we have seen over the past 10 years. Demand for bandwidth has increased at a compound annual growth rate that exceeds 30 percent, but our normalized costs for the bandwidth has decreased. Part of this is simply an industry phenomenon. Bandwidth is getting cheaper; however, part of this is due to our data driven approach to our interactions with suppliers. We expect bandwidth to be “cheaper by the dozen” and we have an approach to ensure this is the case. Further, most agencies are modernizing their networks through increased bandwidth demand, especially via Ethernet services. For instance, enterprise network services are migrating towards 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet; our Networx extensions focused on this migration and Ethernet is an EIS required service.

The increased demand for these services drove purchasing up 10 percent on Networx in 2016, which further lowers telecom costs, especially for Ethernet services. The availability, performance, and price of Ethernet services will remain important for years to come. In 2017 and beyond, EIS is on target to continue lowering costs for government.

2017 Telecom Priorities

Our biggest priority in 2017 is to continue to collaborate across government and industry, and begin the transition to EIS.

The EIS Transition Challenge Government-wide

GSA and agency partners are preparing for the EIS awards so transition can begin and be completed by 2020. All agencies using Networx were required to submit Agency Transition Plans, which were due in fall 2016. We are excited to continue to work with industry and agency partners to take advantage of new solutions and new technology.

Mobility Savings and Enhanced Management

Mobile services are also in the spotlight in 2017. Five wireless service plans — three data and two voice plans — represent more than 90 percent of federal government’s purchases of mobile services. Standardized buying forces competition to focus on price and quality since many features and requirements are the same (Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative-Wireless (FSSI-W) customers paid 26%  less in 2016 than in 2012 because of this simple standardized strategy). In 2017, the government-wide Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) will drive further savings as FSSI-W growth continues and the MSCT defines the next-generation mobility program.

Demands for Bandwidth, Security, and Satellites

Bandwidth demands and security capabilities will continue to grow in 2017, and we’ll also launch a new Commercial Satellite Custom Commercial SATCOM Solutions (CS3) contract.

In all these areas, we partner with agencies to find the best telecom infrastructure solutions to meet mission needs.

Learn More about Telecom Solutions

To find out more about available tools, best practices, and telecom solutions, select Telecommunications and Network Services on GSA’s website and visit the Telecommunications Hallway on the Acquisition Gateway.

Please follow ITC on Twitter @GSA_ITC and LinkedIn to join our ongoing conversations about government IT. Visit all the IT Hallways on the Acquisition Gateway for more information on the IT category and subcategories.

 

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Navigating the Future of Mobile Services

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 15, 2016

(This blog post reflects my perspective as the government-wide IT Category Manager)

Today, the federal government spends more than $1 billion annually on mobile services. An agile and evolving federal workforce is driving an ever-increasing need for agencies to have the ability to meet their missions, and do their work securely anywhere, anytime, and on any device in order to serve U.S. citizens.

Fast-changing mobile technology and increased demand are putting pressure on agencies to determine how best to acquire, maintain, and manage mobile resources. So government needs a mobile plan that looks ahead. And that’s just what the Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) aims to accomplish.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Category Management Leadership Council (CMLC) set up the MSCT to develop and implement a government-wide strategic plan to increase efficiency and drive savings related to acquiring government mobile services. The cross-agency team looks at how agencies can best navigate the future of mobile services. OMB, GSA, and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State lead the MSCT.

While they’re taking input from agencies across government and industry, the MSCT has already accomplished several goals, such as establish strategic objectives, prepare mobile device guidance, make plans for a mobile brokerage feasibility study, incorporate industry partners’ insights and expertise, and are taking on mobile reporting and data management.

MSCT Roadmap and Guidance

OMB’s August Mobile Services and Devices memo (M-16-20) assigns several responsibilities to the MSCT, and the first three are now complete. Documents from these tasks are posted on the Telecommunications Hallway in the Acquisition Gateway.

1. Mobile Services Roadmap – The MSCT published the roadmap so agencies can develop mobile tools and solutions that will conform to Category Management principles and best meet agency and user needs. It focuses on general-use needs similar for most agencies (also known as core commodity services). It also identifies another primary needs segment that requires customizing based on agency and mission. This second segment focuses on mobile applications and complex mobile solutions such as security and ID credentialing.

2. Mobile Device Procurement and Management Guidance – This guidance helps agencies select, procure, manage, and dispose of mobile devices. It focuses on what agencies can do to more efficiently manage devices, reduce costs, simplify processes, improve contractual terms, and meet government green initiatives.

3. Mobile Services Brokerage Model Feasibility Study: Project and Implementation Plan – This document explains how the MSCT will conduct a feasibility study for possible use of a brokerage approach to agency mobile acquisition efforts. Typically, smaller agencies have fewer in-house resources. The brokerage approach could support them by providing external support. MSCT’s goal is that no agency be left behind while improving management of mobility government wide.

MSCT Strategic Objectives

The MSCT has three primary objectives:

  1. Standardization – Define a common set of plans, devices, terms, conditions, and other mobility attributes that apply across contractors and agencies to drive competition based on quality and price.
  2. Simplification – Make it easier for agencies to acquire and manage mobility services and devices.
  3. Savings – Further reduce costs for wireless carrier services and other mobility category services.

Insights from Industry Partners

MSCT solicited and incorporated industry partners’ insights and feedback. In response to the RFI issued earlier this year, wireless carriers, systems integrators, and technology leaders gave their list of priorities:

  • Simplify core product offerings to reduce complexity and cost
  • Support ancillary service offerings and have flexibility to use open market offerings to streamline procurements
  • Have standard terms and conditions that require less negotiation and have already been validated across the federal government
  • Use self-service ordering, service options, and a suite of templates to increase speed and quality of fulfilling orders and responding to bids
  • Allow the ability to add new services to contracts in days and weeks, rather than months

Common Data Structures, Enhanced Data Collection

The MSCT is also tackling mobile reporting and data management. Billing records contain data to assess if agencies are overpaying or under-using mobile resources. Sharing data will strengthen our ability to make intelligent and informed decisions at the agency level and government-wide. In the future, we will focus on data quality and accuracy to help the IT category deliver strategies that maximize value and savings for the government.

Continuing to Collaborate

The MSCT is ready to work with agencies and industry in fiscal 2017 to improve and streamline mobility acquisition. Want to know specifics? Read the Strategic Roadmap.

Have questions or want to provide feedback? Contact wireless@gsa.gov.

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

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Collaborating for Better Government

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 16, 2015

Wikipedia defines “collaboration” as “working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals.” According to the Free Dictionary, collaborating is a partnership, working as a team, or being in concert.   

For GSA, collaboration is more than just a buzzword or standing at a podium talking to stakeholders. It is a dialog a give and take that includes understanding and respecting everyone’s needs, goals, and values.

Successful collaboration happens when everyone is committed to the core principles of trust, understanding, and compromise– and the end result is a better outcome for all parties.

Creating the IT Portfolio of Solutions

At GSA, collaboration is a driving force as we re-shape many of our government-wide programs and contracts. For those of you working with GSA, you’ve seen or been part of any number of working groups, industry days, interagency meetings, and requirements teams. You’ve contributed thousands of ideas and comments on our RFIs, draft RFPs and in our Interact communities.  You’ve rolled up your sleeves and helped shape our offerings from adding a new Special Item Number (SIN) on IT Schedule 70, to developing OASIS, Alliant 2, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), Network Services 2020 (NS2020), cloud strategies, identity management solutions, mobility and wireless solutions, satellite solutions, software, hardware and so much more.  

The Government’s shift to Category Management (CM), has also guided our planning and resulting solutions. We have experts that know telecom, software, IT hardware, IT services and IT security. The category hallways within the Acquisition Gateway provide access to many government-wide contracts, tools, pricing information, buying guides, templates, best practices and access to other buyers across government so you don’t have to figure things out on your own and are able to leverage work others have already done.

Our collective work has led to a very clear strategy for GSA’s next generation of IT and telecommunications solutions.  As a result, GSA is implementing solutions that better meet agencies’ needs, provide flexibility in acquiring IT/telecom, provide savings, reduce duplication and are reflective of technology market offerings. The graphic below shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development. 

This graphic shows exactly what we’ve mapped out and what we’ve used to guide our solutions development.

Reducing Duplication While Providing Flexibility

Our category management approach ensures that our contract solutions provide different ways to buy technology based on agency collaboration and feedback. We’ve been asked why you see similar technology or services available on more than one of our contracts. Some might say this also results in “duplication” or confusion, but our customers are telling us that they  need flexibility to buy technology products and services in different ways based on what I refer to it as, “the nature of the buy.”  

ITS prides itself on providing both general and niche solutions for IT and telecommunications products and services to federal, state and local agencies.  These solutions draw on GSA’s acquisition and IT expertise and they help our customers by allowing them to direct more resources into focusing on their core missions. About 30% of federal IT spend flows through ITS contracts and programs. We hold ourselves accountable for increasing federal procurement efficiency, reducing costs for both government and industry, and helping government achieve better results.  Reducing overlapping and redundant contracts is important to ITS. We’ve taken a true portfolio approach to planning our solutions and ensuring we provide maximum flexibility for government buyers as they make complex procurement strategy decisions.   

For example, agencies today are procuring wireless services and devices in a number of ways.  Our FSSI Wireless BPAs offer certain terms and conditions, plans, features (such as aggregated pooling of minutes and data) and pricing for services with devices provided as part of the overall solution. On IT Schedule 70, agencies have the option of buying just devices or service plans and devices and constructing their own terms and conditions.  If an agency were to use Networx for the wireless services/devices, they may be doing so to consolidate mobile services on a broader enterprise platform implementation.  

Cloud is another great example. We have cloud-based services available on IT Schedule 70, on our IaaS and EaaS BPAs, through GWACs (especially where integration or transition services are also needed) and through our network services contracts (off premise hosting or data center solutions are examples).  Our network services contracts are telecommunications focused but also recognize broader, related products and services may need to be part of the overall solution. EIS will provide best in class virtual private network services, Ethernet, voice, and managed network services at significant discounts.  These services may also be related to an agency’s enterprise implementation of data centers or call centers — either on-site or cloud-based.  While these are just a few examples, you can see it really doesn’t make sense to try to define, “bucket,” and limit technology solutions to individual contracts.

Guiding Agencies to the best choice

GSA’s job is to understand the market, listen to agency and industry partners, and use what we’ve learned to create solutions. While creating solutions will involve some overlap, we want to act as an honest broker and help agencies get to the best solution for them. Sometimes that includes guiding agencies to other non-GSA enterprise contracts that might be a better fit for their requirements.

We are making it our responsibility to help agencies through the process, especially when overlap could cause potential confusion about which vehicle is optimal for certain requirements. We will accomplish this through our continued proactive management approach with both customers and vendors. Through collaboration, scope reviews, and relationships, we want to better understand the core requirements and make the best acquisition recommendation.

As I pointed out earlier, we don’t take a “one size fits all” approach. If an agency has a cloud requirement that is within the scope of multiple contracts, we will work with that customer to understand their requirements and help assess their acquisition choices. We will make the best recommendation to ensure the agency requirements are being met in the most efficient and effective manner with the highest quality vendors possible.  On contracts such as our GWACs, Networx, and EIS, GSA performs pre-award and post-award scope reviews ensuring requirements are not only within the scope of the contract but that the contract is being used most effectively.  In addition, on our GWACs and on EIS, training is mandatory for contracting officers who use these contracts prior to GSA issuing them a delegation of procurement authority.

Final Thoughts

Even with slight overlap, these vehicles will deliver flexibility to buyers across government through pre-existing, pre-vetted contracts, which ultimately saves government and industry from investing time and money on new and redundant open-market contracts.

A few final, important thoughts I want to share with you about collaboration:

  • Collaboration allows us to be responsive continually to existing and emerging needs of government agencies and industry
  • Continual collaboration is always a goal, often a challenge, and clearly an opportunity
  • We always look for ways to make IT acquisitions seamlessly support agency missions, rather than hinder them. We also work to align to industry partners’ business goals, when they do not detract from government goals
  • Customer convenience, flexibility, and choice will always matter

Please follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join GSA’s ITS’s overall acquisition conversations.

Join us for a live webcast demonstration of the Acquisition Gateway with Q&A on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 at 2 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. CT, Noon MT, 11 a.m. PT. There’s no charge for this training, and you can earn one Continuous Learning Point (CLP). This webcast is open to all and only federal government agency personnel. Register today!

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IT Acquisition Best Practices & Dispelling Myths

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 28, 2015

In June, I read a great open letter from Susan M. Gordon, Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, that explained how to make sure we’re doing the best we can to get technology and related services to help us meet our missions.

This blog post is an open letter follow-up with seven best practices for agencies acquiring mission enhancing IT solutions such as software, hardware, telecommunications, cybersecurity, cloud, satellite, mobile, and other IT. These tips should help dispel some common myths.

  1. Make Market Research Personal – Don’t assume market research on paper and the Internet gives you the full picture. You’ll need to talk to experts each time you need an acquisition. Talk to industry, other agencies with similar requirements, and GSA. We administer many government-wide shared IT acquisition contracts. Check out the government’s open and independent resource – the Government Acquisition Gateway and hallways – as a starting point. You’ll find white papers, best practices, potential and existing contracts from GSA and other sources, and community discussion groups where you can ask questions and talk with other agencies.
  2. Always Talk to GSA – Each time you need IT, talk to us about pre-established contracts that might work well for you. It won’t take a lot of time to talk to us – we can use video conferencing or visit you in person. Contact a GSA Customer Service Director in your area to schedule a meeting. In addition to contract vehicles, GSA may be able to share an agency contact with you that recently addressed the same challenges and perhaps developed a best practice in the process. Even if you don’t have a live requirement at the moment, using GSA as a resource for strategic ongoing market research will make for better, well-educated, future buying decisions.
  3. Let Go of Preconceived Judgments – Some people have predetermined notions of many of the pre-established contracts. Letting go of preconceived judgments opens the door to finding the best solutions. For example, you may be surprised to learn how much control you have while using pre-established vehicles, and you may be amazed to find you can often and easily obtain lower pricing through additional negotiations than published, list prices.
  4. Know that Things Change – Don’t think that the government-wide contract you or your contractor checked a year ago is still the same. GSA and other agencies continuously refresh shared contracts and make them more user-centric every day. We’re talking more to government and industry. We constantly seek input on what agencies need today and what industry can offer. We are evolving contracts to meet those needs. For example, this year we’ve added a Cloud SIN to IT Schedule 70 to help agencies find their best cloud solutions easier than ever before. Even though a contract didn’t meet every need in the past doesn’t mean today’s options won’t be your best choices. The GSA of today is not the GSA of yesterday.
  5. Dig Further – If you have an industry partner working with you on market research and acquisition planning who recommends you go open source rather than use an existing contract, do you stop there? As a best practice, don’t. Keep in mind that in-house advisors have more involvement and financial benefit in doing steps required for open-source acquisitions, while pre-established contracts have those steps already completed. For example, if you have a contractor doing market research who recommends going open market for commercial satellite services, consider instead that GSA’s Custom SATCOM (CS2) and CS2-SB contracts have vetted partners and solutions without the overhead and cost of creating an entirely new contract. And remember to evaluate advisor recommendations to ensure they don’t steer toward a specific contract because they’re on it.
  6. Look for Efficiencies – Agencies who use existing contract vehicles with the IDIQ Fair Opportunity process or Multiple Award Contract/Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) save months in acquisition lead time. Why? Because many of the initial steps and approvals required to establish a full stand-alone procurement action, including pre-qualifying industry partners,  have already been done for you. Having to find and qualify contractors can add six months or more to the procurement process.
  7. Lower Agency and Taxpayer Costs – Government-wide contracts can achieve cost savings because multiple agencies are already using them, increasing volume buying from government to industry partners and driving competition to lower costs. I did a recent blog post, for example, about the FSSI Wireless BPAs and how they’re saving agencies on average 27% over what they had been spending on wireless services and devices. Start at the published contract pricing, but always request discounts and lower pricing. Whether you get discounts in initial years or option years, your actual cost will be lower than the initial cost evaluation.

The ultimate motivator and driver for all of us in public service isn’t what we perceive or think is best, but what we find after due diligence is really best for our missions and the American taxpayers.

If you chose not to use GSA for an IT acquisition, it’s ok. But a fresh conversation with GSA should always be part of the equation.

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

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FSSI Wireless Averages 27% Savings for Agencies

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the video on YouTube.

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

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USAccess HSPD-12 Update

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 8, 2015

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

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

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

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

Reducing wait time

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

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

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

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

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

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Managed Mobility Gets Even Sweeter

Posted by Mary Davie
on April 17, 2014

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

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

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

Re-cap of Mobile and Wireless

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

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

The New Sweet Spot

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

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

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

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

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

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Hear me talk about our Mobile Technology Solutions

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 24, 2014

We live in a very mobile and flexible society. We depend greatly on the ability to communicate when and where we choose in both our private and work activities. To that point, the government spends more than $1 billion on wireless services plans and devices each year with the expectation for those figures to increase as demand increases.

Here at GSA, we took a look at the current environment and developed our Mobile Technology Solutions to help our federal customers evaluate their mobile requirements and provide assistance in filling in the gaps.

I’m excited to be trying something new today: A Video Blog! Hear me talk about our Mobile Technology Solutions and let me know your thoughts by reaching out on Twitter to @GSA_ITS

Mary Davie’s video:

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Managed Mobility Myth-Busters

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 5, 2013

In my last blog, we talked about FSSI Wireless. Today, let’s take a closer look at GSA’s other new complementary program: Managed Mobility.

How does Managed Mobility complement your wireless plans and devices? What are the benefits of Managed Mobility?

Think baseball and sunshine. All your resources are gathered (bats, balls, uniforms, players, coaches, stadium, field, fans, food) and you’re ready to go. But take away the sun and add dark clouds and rain, things don’t go quite as planned. It can be miserable and hard to manage. FSSI Wireless is where you go for your main mobile resources (plans and devices), and Managed Mobility sheds a light on how to best use them.

Our Managed Mobility Program, which launched in May, will help agencies improve enterprise-wide mobile management and keep pace with mobility management best practices and solutions.

With other federal agencies, we launched the Government-Wide Mobile Device Management Program as part of the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy (DGS). We’re hoping to transform government services and use of mobile technology in line with 21st century expectations.

So, to help you understand the Managed Mobility program offerings and benefits, let’s clarify what is true and what is not:

Mobile Management and FSSI Wireless are the same.

FALSE.

These two complementary mobile technology solutions pack a one-two punch. You can buy mobile plans with devices from FSSI Wireless, which will transform how government buys wireless service plans and devices and lower prices.

The Managed Mobility Program will also transform how government manages those devices after buying them. We want to help you better embed mobile management seamlessly into your entire IT portfolio in a way that meets your agency’s needs.

The Managed Mobility Program is a contract vehicle or Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).

FALSE.

Managed Mobility is not a BPA or other governmentwide vehicle. This program instead identifies and evaluates potential solutions currently on existing contract vehicles that can be procured today. The program creates and maintains a list of potential sources of supply, which meet the greatest number of government requirements.

We don’t need a new contract vehicle for mobile management today.

TRUE.

Based on fluidity, ongoing market evolution, and federal policy space, our cross-government team found the best approach today is to highlight solutions assessed to meet shared enterprise-wide needs. As the market and policy mature, we will revisit what we are doing today.

You can buy a Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Application Management (MAM), and Mobile Life-Cycle (MLC) solution on the list.

TRUE.

You can use the Managed Mobility program’s central repository, information, and staff to identify the solutions that best meets today’s requirements.

You can buy non-mobile IT equipment on the Managed Mobility Solutions list.

FALSE.

Non-mobile IT equipment and services and IT-focused management solutions are not part of this program. You can check out all GSA’s IT solutions.

Buying mobile management solutions from GSA can save acquisition time.

TRUE.

It takes less time to procure an MDM, MAM, or MLC solution than you might think. Much of the work to define requirements, identify potential sources of supply, and secure some baseline pricing to budget your acquisition has already been completed. The time frame for procuring an MDM, depending on the requirements, is much shorter than the typical procurement cycle.

Agencies must procure solutions on the potential solutions list to comply with the Digital Government Strategy (DGS). 

FALSE.

Other solution providers may have solutions that better fit your agency’s need.

If your requirements are not reflected in this program, contact our Managed Mobility Program.

TRUE.

We will continue to assess the requirements and MDM market to meet the greatest governmental need.

I hope I’ve debunked some myths and helped you better understand GSA’s Managed Mobility Program. For more information, read more about our Managed Mobility program.

Share comments or additional ideas in the comments section below, or follow us on Twitter@GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

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FY14 IT Budget: Our Run to Daylight

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 1, 2013

The release of President Obama’s FY14 Budget reinforces the fact that many government agencies’ reduced IT spending budgets continue to decrease. However, agencies must still deliver enhanced missions to serve the American people.  Therefore, we must work smarter than ever — together — to deliver better value and savings.

While the FY14 budget nudges up IT spending slightly, a closer look shows many agencies actually face reduced or flat spending, yet missions continue to grow and demands continue to expand.

This does not deter us, but inspires us. It allows us to be creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative. But how do we succeed? How do we ensure budget constraints and pressure from sequestration are not missed opportunities?

Noted football coach Vince Lombardi was famous for his running-to-daylight offense where offensive linemen blocked areas en masse and the running back ran toward any opening created. This was the key to gaining football yardage and, ultimately, victory.

With spending cuts in play, government needs to find the openings (opportunities) to turn the game around. The quicker we run in that direction, the better chance we have to be champions.

Spend Less; Spend Smarter

Our shared goals are simple: Deliver cost-effective best value to the American taxpayer. We must use shared resources to work more efficiently, spend smarter, reduce duplication, and decrease costs.

In government IT, we already have proven winning game plans:

1.   Agency Deep Dives. Enterprise-wide, agencies can often find areas to improve IT collaboration and system sharing. Agency IT deep dive teams that explore cost-saving options and enhance enterprise-wide cooperation make sense now more than ever.

GSA’s Acting Administrator consolidated all our IT personnel, budgets, and systems under GSA’s Chief Information Officer. We’ve also had huge success internally with our Great Ideas Hunt (generating $5 million in savings so far). We rolled it outside the agency to search for other great ideas we can use to save money and deliver solutions better.

2.   Strategic Sourcing. Agencies have been looking at better ways to cooperate and benefit from work done by other agencies to drive down government operating costs. We need to help them do that faster. We must share and use contracts where much of the acquisition effort and cost are already completed.

We are enhancing current contracts to make it easier for customers to find and order services and faster to modify, customize, and add to existing contracts. We are implementing agile and innovative solutions to increase the speed for agencies to reap the benefits of technologies like cloud computing, cybersecurity, and telecommunications.

These solutions, like our upcoming strategic sourcing wireless contract, also help drive down costs. We are working with partners and inter-agency working groups to make solutions and services like managed mobility, network services, and cloud brokerage more accessible and convenient for all agencies to use. We aim to drive cost-effectiveness and world-class value government-wide.

3.   GSA IT Savings Report. Do you ever get reports from your utility company about how your home energy efficiency compares to your neighbors? I just got one the other day. It’s confidential between me and the utility…. but how in the world can my energy use be so much more than all the other homes in my community? How can I do better?

GSA stands ready to work with your agency to explore ways our IT solutions can help you reduce costs, minimize duplications and redundancies, and save your budget dollars by leveraging our investment to set up contracts and acquisition vehicles, so you don’t have to. We can leverage your past vendor successes and bring more partner opportunities to the mix.

Our job is to help support you to focus on your missions while maintaining quality and reducing costs. Be sure to contact GSA (check our technology site on gsa.gov for our contact number).  We have a team of resources to help you.

We’re committed to help government as a whole save $2.1B in government IT costs every year. This savings will go a long way to help reduce the budget deficit and help agencies to maximize their IT dollars. All of us are going to have to re-think and re-imagine how we do things – together.

Please share comments or additional ideas in the comments section below, or follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

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