FY 2014 Delivers Enterprise Growth in Wireless

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

Cost Savings, Choice, and Efficiency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wireless Buying Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Alliant GWAC: Exploring Success

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 22, 2015

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

The GSA Alliant GWAC had an outstanding year helping agencies achieve their mission through a fast, flexible, and safe acquisition vehicle. Agencies obligated  $2.682 billion dollars to Alliant during FY14, marking Alliant as the largest utilized single GWAC in GSA history by dollar value. Alliant is GSA’s premier enterprise GWAC, providing flexible access to customized IT solutions from a large, diverse pool of industry partners. Alliant allows for long-term planning of large-scale, complex program requirements. The success can be attributed to several factors that deserve a closer look.

Alliant FY14 Success Analytics:

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

Top Agencies and Vendors:

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

Currently, SAIC is the dominant vendor with over $1.6 billion in obligations spread across 42 task orders. Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services follows with $720 million across 43 task orders, increasing its capture by more than 60% over the past three years according to a recent study conducted by Govini. Northrop Grumman follows suit with $550 million across 36 task orders.

Strong relationships between Government and Industry:

As pre-competed vehicles, GWACs can streamline the acquisition process, which naturally leads to saving time and taxpayer money. Our pre-competed vehicle consists of 58 exceptionally qualified contractors. The Alliant program office takes pride in the individual relationships that have been created through the years between the Enterprise GWAC division and the outstanding Alliant contractors. To date, 50 out of 58 primes have received awards, exemplifying the diverse pool of credible talent and the constant interaction between government and industry.

The Enterprise GWAC division recently invited representatives from each of the 58 Primes to participate in Alliant’s twice-a-year Program Management Review (PMR). The event spans two days and allows industry to interact with government and partake in collaborative program updates and breakout sessions.  Success on projects through Alliant is a three-part partnership – GSA, the procuring agency and the company performing the work under the task order. We’ve built this model over a number of years through all of our GWACs, and it’s because of that focus and approach that Alliant has served the federal community so well.

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

 

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Looking at Year-End Telecommunications Insights from Networx

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 20, 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/.)

Most federal agencies purchase network services through the Networx telecommunications program. Fiscal Year 2014 year-end Networx purchasing data provides a good picture of the federal networking and telecommunications market.

Last June, we talked about mid-year trends in telecommunications purchases. Today, let’s look at the entire year for FY 2014.

In total, more than 136 federal agencies use Networx. Federal agencies purchased $1.53 billion in network and telecommunications services from the Networx contract in FY 2014. This represents an increase of over $179 million from FY 2013, or 13.2%.  (* See note)

Annual Networx Buying Trends

The two largest in-demand core services on Networx continued to be Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (NBIPVPN) and Managed Network Services (MNS), making up 46% and 12% respectively of Networx purchases. NBIPVPN is a mouthful and you can translate that to secure bandwidth services purchased across an agency.

Demand for these two services grew rapidly. Government agencies increased purchasing of bandwidth by 19% and managed network services by 22% in FY 2014 over FY 2013.

We are seeing federal agencies purchase more high-bandwidth services. This represents a clear shift away from traditional digital signal hierarchy services towards Ethernet-based services. While the inventory of DS-1s (1.5 Mbps services) remained flat, the inventory of 200-500 Mbps Ethernet services in FY 2014 was up over 150% compared to FY 2013. And, we expect this trend to accelerate in FY 2015.

Call center services (such as intelligent call routing to agents) were up 46%. Given the recent modernization of some call centers to Networx, this purchase increase is not surprising. In FY 2015, we anticipate call center services growth will taper as large federal call centers complete their modernization efforts.

One of biggest growth services this past year was toll-free service (TFS). It was the third highest demanded service (9%) on Networx, with purchases up 43% compared to FY 2013. We anticipate this growth trend will decrease or end going forward because it was mainly due to one-time needs in FY 2014 within a few large agencies.

FY 2013 to FY 2014 year-over-year purchase increases are shown below for some of Networx core services.

 Highlights of Network Purchases by Service FY13-FY14  Percentage Growth (FY13-FY14)  Percentage of Networx Purchases
 Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network Service  19%  46%
 Managed Network Services  22%  12%
 Toll Free Services  43%   9%
 Call Center Services  46%   3%

 

Consistent with what we found mid-year, increases in bandwidth-driven services more than offset declines in legacy services like long distance voice, which is for the year down 5% from FY 2013. Not surprisingly, long distance voice now accounts for less than 3% of the purchases on Networx.

And, legacy networks based on the Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Frame Relay protocols have largely disappeared from federal purchasing. They now account for about 0.5% of the purchases.

Beyond these core services, purchases of storage services (Network Attached Storage, Storage Area Networks, and Backup and Restoration Services) through Networx had another year of strong growth at 122% over FY 2013.

While storage services account for a small portion of Networx purchases, it is the second year of triple digit growth in storage services.  We expect growth in cloud-based services like this as bandwidth itself grows to accommodate increased government data needs.

Delivering Cost Savings

One of the missions of GSA is to use the purchasing power of government to drive down prices and reduce costs for agencies. GSA closely and continually evaluates how Networx is meeting this mission, especially around the area of pricing.  In FY 2014, the Networx program saved taxpayers and agency users approximately $670 million on telecommunications, compared to best commercial prices.

GSA calculates savings by keeping and using detailed Networx data on both the services agencies purchase and agency usage volume. Third-party market research allows us to compare best commercial rates for these services to Networx pricing.  If you are interested in seeing current year pricing by service on Networx, please visit our Networx Unit Pricer.

In general, purchasing on Networx has become stable. The proportion of services purchased in FY 2014 is fairly close to what was expected. We expect FY 2015 purchasing trends to remain consistent and for Networx to continue to deliver savings.

* The source of the $1.5B is Networx billing data. Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) data may reflect a smaller volume of federal purchasing due to differences in task order and service order reporting as well as differences between invoice cycles and agency reporting on FPDS.

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

 

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“Easy to Find, Easy to Buy” — Envisioning the Next Step for Cloud Computing on IT Schedule 70

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 9, 2014

GSA has led efforts to create a 21st century government, including introducing cloud to federal agencies. We offer a variety of contract vehicles that help agencies streamline acquisition of cloud technologies, including IT Schedule 70, the Email as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) like Alliant and Alliant Small Business.

As the cloud marketplace is maturing, we are seeing an increased focus on IT Schedule 70 as one of the main acquisition vehicles for agencies.

IT Schedule 70 is already the largest, most widely used IT acquisition vehicle in the federal government, and we are continuously looking to improve what it offers. One area we are exploring is looking for ways to help customers find and buy cloud services.

For example, we are considering the creation of a single Special Item Number (SIN) for all cloud services that would provide clear cloud technology differentiation for customers and improve ease of access to acquire cloud services. We recently released a request for information, seeking industry input on this idea.

IT Schedule 70 already offers cloud services, and our industry partners have cloud offerings in several SINs, so why create a new SIN?

Through customer dialogue and market research, an integrated team of acquisition, technology, and program experts across the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) has identified that there would be benefits to creating a Cloud SIN to all parties involved:

  • GSA Customers – Clear differentiation of cloud services vs. non-cloud IT products and services, and empowered cloud buying through better data
  • Industry Partners – Opportunity to market distinctive solutions and offerings on IT Schedule 70
  • Internal GSA Operations – Enable more granular reporting on cloud sales to enable decision making, and help our customers buy better through data

The goal of this new SIN would be to provide clear cloud technology differentiation and ease of customer access through systems such as eBuy and GSA Advantage!.

Since SINs create logical categories of services within a Schedule, we envision the creation of a Cloud Computing Services SIN will provide a level of differentiation for customers that would more easily and clearly identify cloud services.  Additionally, GSA could establish a set of qualifying requirements that would help customers in identifying cloud services that meet acceptable standards around security, data, and other characteristics.

We are always looking for ways to make sure that doing business with us is as easy and reliable as possible. We believe that adding a Cloud Computing Services SIN would realign IT Schedule 70 cloud technology offerings to better reflect the current cloud computing market and satisfy customer needs.

The cloud market is sufficiently mature to offer differentiated and vetted cloud services through a single SIN, and this makes sense for both GSA customer agencies and industry partners. We are looking for feedback to make sure we get it right and look forward to the conversation. Read the RFI.

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Networx Data Shapes our Understanding of Telecommunications

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 10, 2014

Big data is being used to help transform government by revealing information and patterns that can bring innovation, better services, and smarter decisions.

To effectively use big data, we must be willing to collect, analyze, and share the information we discover. You already know about some of the ways we’re helping the government buy smarter through big data: GWAC Prices Paid Tool, horizontal and vertical pricing in Schedule 70, and Reverse Auction pricing data.

Here is something you may not have heard a lot about: GSA’s major telecommunications program, Networx, collects data about what federal agencies are purchasing and how much they are paying. Because most federal agencies make network services purchases through the Networx program, these “big data” details from Networx provide a good picture of the federal networking and telecommunications market — and we’re happy to share it.

We’ve just completed an analysis of the first half of fiscal year 2014. And, it’s a good time to look at how federal agencies are using the Networx contracts and the trends we’re seeing in telecommunications buying.

In total, more than 136 federal agencies use Networx. Federal agencies have purchased $762 million in network and telecommunications services off the Networx contract through the second quarter of FY 2014. During the same period last year, federal agencies purchased $630 million through Networx. After accounting for FY 2013 purchases through now expired legacy contracts, this represents a year-over-year increase of 12.8% on the Networx contracts. The projected yearly increase we’re seeing is an indicator that agencies are utilizing Networx more often than ever to solve their network services solutions.

Networx Buying Trends

GSA attributes this growth in usage to a couple of factors. First, federal agencies are using Networx to purchase more services because of increased bandwidth demand. More applications, more video, and more data all drive the need for more bandwidth. When was the last time you were not online? The two largest in-demand core services on Networx are Internet Protocol Based Virtual Private Network and Managed Network Services. Government agencies have increased purchasing of these two services by 24% and 36% respectively in FY 2014.

Second, due to transition and increased activity at call centers at several civilian agencies, toll-free services and call center services have seen year-over-year purchase increases of 62% and 288% respectively.

 Purchase Increases by Service from FY 13 to FY 14  Percentage of Increase
 Network-Based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network Service  24%
 Managed Network Services  36%
 Toll Free Services  62%
 Call Center Services  288%

Increases in bandwidth-driven services more than offset declines in legacy services like long distance voice, which is down 5% from FY 2013. Legacy networks that are based on the Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Frame Relay protocols have largely disappeared. They are down 8% and 31% respectively since last year and, combined, now account for less than 1% of federal purchases.

 Purchase Decreases by Service from FY 13 to FY 14  Percentage of Increase
 Long Distance Voice Service  -5%
 Asynchronous Transfer Mode  -8%
 Frame Relay Service  -31%

Beyond these core services, purchases of storage services (Network Attached Storage, Storage Area Networks, and Backup and Restoration Services) through Networx continue to grow. Storage services are a small part of overall use on Networx, but GSA considers this a bellwether for enhancement of traditional bandwidth with cloud services like Infrastructure as a Service.

Buying trends on Networx are expected to continue strong in the second half of FY 2014, but at a decreased growth rate compared to the first half of the year. Demand for bandwidth through IP based virtual private networks is expected to grow as an overall trend; however, the large purchase growth in toll-free and call center services will taper as several large federal call centers complete modernization efforts and roll into steady-state operations.

Savings Compared to Commercial Pricing

In the first two quarters of FY 2014, the Networx program saved taxpayers and agency users $332 million. This is slightly more than the $328 million savings we originally anticipated for this point in the year. Networx is on target to meet our goal of saving federal agencies at least $659 million this year.  We base the Networx savings calculations on a comparison of Networx pricing, commercial pricing for similar services, and Networx usage.

The GSA Network Services Program continues to have a two-pronged focus: deliver today and plan for tomorrow. Our focus for today with Networx and our other telecommunications acquisition vehicles (including FSSI Wireless BPAs, Connections II, Commercial Satellite Program, and a full range of regional and local voice, data, video, Internet and other service offerings) is to continue to save taxpayer dollars and deliver what agencies need in telecommunications services.  For example, we are making Networx process changes to lower the transaction cost of purchases and price changes to lower per unit service costs.

Looking to the future, with NS2020, we are in the midst of developing new acquisitions and service delivery models to help structure and enhance future government telecommunications both globally and locally.

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

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Help Us Shape the Future

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 28, 2014

Here in ITS, we’re reevaluating our approach to strategic sourcing by focusing on category management, which will help transform government IT acquisition and improve the value we provide to our customers. We can’t succeed without your feedback on the best ways to improve our performance. We are counting on you—our customers and industry partners—to identify where we can serve you better.

We’re conducting two surveys that focus on ITS, our performance, and what you expect when you work with us.  (These surveys are separate from our recent supplier perception survey and our Customer Loyalty Survey):

Suppliers: The Voice of the Supplier Tool will assess supplier satisfaction in key areas with questions tailored according to category management best practices.

Federal ITS Customers: The Business Alignment Tool will allow ITS customers to assess our acquisition management function as it relates to category management.

The surveys will take no more than 20 minutes, but will give us the insights we need to help tailor our approach to best meet your needs.

Thank you for helping shape our future.

What Category Management Means for You

You may be asking, what is category management and why should it matter to me?

Category management is a data-driven approach to manage groups of related products and services. In principle, it drives greater value by generating sourcing strategies unique to each grouping of products or services (e.g., the software market has different drivers and savings levers than the telecommunications market does).

Ultimately, we expect category management to help us better carry out our mission—and enable our customers to do the same—by shifting our focus away from managing ITS contracts and towards developing market expertise that will put us in the best position to guide our customers to best-fit solutions. Our goal is to become the go-to trusted advisor for our customers’ IT needs.

We know that establishing this position within the federal acquisition community will mean providing customers with value-added services that make designing solutions and using contract vehicles easier while still delivering better value. Category management is a tool we believe will help us meet this challenge by focusing our efforts on understanding customer demand and market dynamics.

Through better management of customer and supplier relationships, we hope to bring greater value to the acquisition process by more easily aligning customer demand with market solutions. Understanding our customers’ need and the Federal IT environment is just one piece of the puzzle. Working with our industry partners to understand emerging technologies and innovative solutions in addition to their cost drivers will be just as important.

To learn how GSA can further help your agency with your IT procurements, contact our National IT Customer Services Center by phone at (855) ITaid4U or by e-mail at ITCSC@gsa.gov.

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

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Alliant GWAC Five Years Later: Usage, savings, and efficiency just keep getting better

Posted by Mary Davie
on May 19, 2014

Five years ago, GSA’s Integrated Technology Services (ITS) team had an ambitious vision: to create a governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) to meet all of the federal government’s IT services needs. But primarily ITS wanted to save time and money by eliminating the need for agencies to create their own contracts. That vision and commitment created the GSA Alliant GWAC.

Today, $16.5 billion and 54 agencies later, Alliant continues to provide IT services contract support for partner agencies. On May 1, 2014, GSA extended the Alliant option period. Agencies can continue to acquire innovative and complex IT services while still receiving Alliant’s same great customer service until April 2019.

Both DoD and civilian agencies alike use Alliant. Alliant has helped support mission-critical and transformative IT projects for the departments of Homeland Security and State; the Internal Revenue Service;  the Army, Navy, and Air Force,  and many more.

Stellar customer service

Industry partners and federal customers often praise Alliant for its end-to-end stellar customer service and complimentary project scope reviews. Its customer-focused services put Alliant head and shoulders above many other government IT contracts.

Client testimonials note Alliant’s “exceptional” and “unparalleled” customer service and appreciate that “the team responds swiftly to all inquiries,” particularly as “the need to use Alliant has increased.” Another client described the team as “responsive, flexible, and sensitive to our needs” and said, “Without the support of extremely competent GSA contracting staff, there is no way we could have put a contract in place….” Read more Alliant customer testimonials.

Collaboration

As the IT market and emerging new technology evolve, GSA must work with industry and our customers to keep pace. Over the last five years, as advances in federal IT services emerge, the Alliant GWAC Shared Interest Group (SIG), comprising Alliant prime industry partners, works together to stay ahead of the curve.

For example, as the federal government’s interest in moving to cloud-based systems emerged, the SIG worked with a cross-government team to develop sample statements of work (SOWs). These SOWs serve as a valuable roadmap for agencies on how best to acquire, migrate, and integrate cloud systems.

To deliver the best IT solutions to the government, good working relationships with our industry partners are critical. Alliant continues to be recognized as an example of how government and industry can work together to deliver results for the federal government.

Moving Forward

We’re not just resting on our laurels; we know there is plenty of work ahead. We continue to be at the forefront of moving government forward through our “prices paid” data initiative, which helps federal buyers negotiate better because they can see what other agencies are paying for IT services.

Not only do we have certain prices paid data available on strategicsourcing.gov so any government employee can conduct better market research and stronger negotiations, but we are also adding more detail, greater capabilities, and increased functionality.

We are also already moving forward with our Alliant 2 strategy. We are engaging both customers and industry partners through GSA’s Interact community to discuss ideas and strategies that will help shape the next-generation Alliant GWAC. We encourage everyone involved with federal IT purchasing to join the conversation.

Looking forward, we’re thrilled with the possibilities of federal IT’s future. Alliant is a solid, tried- and-true program that is always getting better and better. We are committed to providing the services that have helped so many agency customers over the past five years as we develop the next-generation solution.  

To learn how GSA can further help your agency with your IT procurements, contact our National IT Customer Services Center by phone at (855) ITaid4U or by e-mail at ITCSC@gsa.gov.

 

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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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Applying Lessons Learned To Telecom Transition

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 10, 2014

GSA’s strategic network services program is critical to the services and missions of almost all civilian and
defense agencies. Our telecommunications and IT contracts are designed to reduce risk and increase efficiency for government agencies.

The government completed the FTS2001-to-Networx transition about a year ago. The transition took longer than expected, but here’s the great news: In FY13, the Networx contract saved US taxpayers over $678M and agencies purchased over $1.3B using it.

Networx offers significantly better pricing than FTS2001, typically 10% to 40% depending on the service. By leveraging this buying power of government, agencies can procure the services they need at lower prices, and they can avoid the costs and risks of creating and managing their own contracts and support systems.

Networx enables government agencies to save taxpayer dollars, meet many mandates such as Trusted Internet Connections and IPv6, modernize networks, and use advanced technologies as they become available.

GSA did a lot to support agencies in the Networx transition. We performed transition planning and provided extensive transition assistance, including:

  • Transition Credit Reimbursement
  • Direct technical support
  • Inventory and billing systems
  • Operating a Transition Coordination Center
  • Acquisition support for some smaller agencies

Networx benefits and successes are clear, but we can do better! The Government’s transition to Networx took longer than anticipated, resulting in lost savings opportunities. Transitioning an agency’s enterprise network is complex, there are considerable costs associated with transition, and many stakeholders that must work together.

Apply Experience

We recognize the need to apply lessons from the past to enhance future transition success. We’ve analyzed lessons learned over the past few years to plan better for a future transition and follow-on contract and program.

And we are also working on implementing recommendations from the recent GAO report on Networx Transition.

Among the many lessons we and our partner agencies learned from the Networx transition are that improvements are needed in:

  • Project planning
  • Executive visibility
  • Coordination between IT and acquisition personnel
  • Managing complex acquisition processes to avoid duplicative contracts
  • Technical and contracting telecom expertise across government and need for more GSA support

We recently posted the Network Services Programs Lessons Learned Overview and Network Services Programs Lessons Learned Report to gsa.gov and are working to create a Lessons Learned government database for agencies to search and access.

Network Services 2020, or NS2020, is our strategy for our next-generation telecom and IT infrastructure portfolio. We’re applying lessons learned and proactively engaging our stakeholders to define the complete set of service offerings under NS2020.

Successful transition involves many steps that require executive-level attention and dedicated resources:

  • Transition Planning – Establishing a Transition Working Group, recommending a standard process, developing Statement of Work (SOW) and Fair Opportunity templates, developing a Transition Management Plan, creating a methodology to compute transition credit reimbursements, defining transition tracking metrics, and customer education
  • Direct Transition Preparation – Implementing agency education program and developing requirements by agencies, including drafting Task Order statements of work
  • Active Transition – Making Fair Opportunity decisions, ordering services, and transitioning the services
  • Inventory Management – Agencies, with assistance from GSA as needed, must continuously manage and validate their service inventories; it’s not just a one-time event to be conducted during a set transition period

Our Next Steps

  • Develop our successor to Networx and our regional contracts
  • Incorporate lessons learned to fully address improvements for transition, contracts, the program, acquisition strategy, ordering, billing and inventory management – we want to reduce duplicative contract vehicles, and continue savings to federal agencies
  • Establish an inter-agency Transition Working group
  • Establish clear and realistic end-to-end transition schedules and milestones
  • Recommend establishment of a senior-level “Transition Transparency Group” to provide needed visibility, transparency and focus
  • Offer full life-cycle support options to enable agencies to succeed in any transition step
  • Continue to engage IT and acquisition stakeholders (including industry) early and continuously throughout the process
  • Work with OPM to identify skills needed and skill gaps or resource shortages and strategies for
    addressing

As we move into a new phase of government telecom, we take with us applied knowledge and those lessons from the past to aid the transition. We continue to be committed to offer a marketplace that provides agencies with buying options, access to data and information, access to expertise, an improved buying experience, and continue to deliver significant savings.

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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FY14: Savings, Savings, Savings

Posted by Mary Davie
on December 3, 2013

In our most recent blog post, we shared how much money federal agencies and taxpayers save by using GSA’s Networx program. And while it’s a significant amount of money, there’s more to the savings story.

Across government we are challenged with constrained budgets and acquisition resources while simultaneously focused on improving procurement and ultimately delivering successful projects and programs. FAS and ITS are drastically rethinking how we can serve our customers by creating a marketplace that will provide agencies with buying options, access to data and information, access to expertise, an improved buying experience, and at the same time deliver significant savings.

Government’s IT Marketplace – Delivering Savings

ITS is government’s go-to source for IT products, services, and solutions. We are committed to helping agencies understand acquisition options and find solutions. This year, we set out with an ambitious goal of bringing $1.35B in savings to our customers and I am happy to report that we were able to meet our goal. Here are some of the savings highlights:

  • The Networx program saved its subscribing agencies $678 million in FY13.
  • One agency is expected to achieve 20% cost savings by using Networx.
  • We helped an agency that needed to connect securely to the public Internet with Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS) to achieve an estimated 20% cost savings.
  • Most agencies using GSA’s USAccess Program (HSPD-12 Identity, Credentials and Access Management) shared service save between 4 and 9 times the amount it costs to do it themselves.
  • Using the SmartBUY BPAs, agencies saved $775M in software costs compared to commercial prices.
  • The FedRAMP program takes a “do once, use many” approach to Authority to Operate (ATO), which can help save agencies up to a year in time and $100,000 versus conducting their own ATO process.
  • As of September 30, 2013, the new ReverseAuctions.GSA.gov site delivered 17 federal agencies an average savings of 7.27% ($161,549 in savings).

It’s no secret that FAS and ITS focus on increasing the use of GSA acquisition solutions and programs by federal, state, local and tribal governments. By using existing contract vehicles that are flexible and customizable, every agency gets what they need but doesn’t have to recreate the basic procurement process. We aim to reduce the need for duplicate contracts, improve consistency in terms and conditions, improve the chance of successful project outcomes, and of course save agencies money. We leverage the full buying power of the government which gives us the ability to negotiate and drive down prices for everyone.

Initiatives to Reduce Costs in FY14

We’re happy with FY13 results, but this is a marathon and not a sprint, and there is more that we can do. We’re hard at work making FY14 more successful than FY13 with the goal to increase our ability to serve as the government’s marketplace:

  • We want to help agencies make smarter decisions through data: We are piloting prices-paid initiatives for some of our contracts now, including Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA) and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), making prices-paid data available thereby enabling better buying decisions.
  • We have been conducting a full-scale review and “modernization” of the GSA Federal Supply Schedules contracts to ensure they are best suited to meet today’s needs.
  • We are focusing our offerings around “categories of spend” to streamline offerings and channels to the market.
  • In FY13, we set the groundwork to help government through our Managed Mobility Program that includes a managed mobility information center and our FSSI Wireless BPAs to deliver agency savings in FY14. We are reducing price variability on wireless service plans, and less variation will help agencies make better cost-saving business decisions. Agencies can save 15-20% on wireless service annually and eliminate mobile device costs entirely since zero-cost devices are bundled with service plans.
  • And, we just recently launched the Request for Quote on the FSSI Large Desktop Publisher BPAs, part of the SmartBUY program, which will drive even greater savings for government software.

The underlying purpose of each initiative is to allow us to better serve agency customers and deliver more cost savings. And there are more to come. Not only will our FY14 initiatives serve government needs, but prices-paid data, modernization of contracts, and aligning acquisitions to seller buying patterns help industry partners compete, reduce costs, and make it easier to do business with the government.

Contact us via one of our customer service channels if you have questions or need assistance. And be sure to follow us and continue the conversation on Twitter @GSA_ITS.

 

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