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

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

Helping promote small business growth

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

Providing federal agencies flexible IT solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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GAO Denies Pre-award Protests Against Alliant

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 17, 2017

I am pleased to announce that we are continuing with the evaluation and award (planned for Fall 2017) of GSA’s $50 billion Alliant 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Our decision follows the recent decision by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to deny four companies’ protests to our new source selection methodology and the number of contractors to be awarded.

Alliant 2’s innovative evaluation methodology is characterized as  “highest technically rated, with fair and reasonable price.” It achieves best value under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 15.101 by identifying offerors with the most relevant technical expertise who propose fair and reasonable pricing.  The method was pioneered by GSA’s OASIS (One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services and further developed under the Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTS) and Alliant 2 programs.

In their decision, GAO stated that they found “…no basis in the FAR to object to a proposed source selection process that contemplates award to the highest technically rated offerors without using a tradeoff process.”

GAO further commented that FAR Section 1.102(d) permits reasonable exercise of the contracting officer’s discretion, recognizing that if a procurement strategy is in the government’s best interest, and is not explicitly prohibited, then the innovative procurement process is permissible.

GAO Decision Impact

GSA’s innovative source selection methodology on the Alliant 2 solicitation was directly challenged through several pre-award protests to GAO. However, GAO found that the methodology is valid, not objectionable, and supported by the discretion afforded contracting officers when they use the FAR. This decision affects IT acquisitions significantly.

This unprecedented decision reinforces the fact that government has the flexibility to try new and innovative source selection methodologies, among other things. As a proactive partner with federal agencies, GSA is always willing to try new ways to better serve government and improve mission delivery.

Our goal is to create comprehensive IT solutions available from the very best companies.

Ongoing Partner Engagement

We engaged both government stakeholders and industry partners from the beginning of the procurement process, and conducted extensive acquisition planning and market research to determine how to best structure the Alliant 2 GWACs. We always strive to maximize our collaboration with federal agencies and industry in order to identify the most advantageous structure for our contracts and to incorporate their ideas.

You may also remember a previous blog about Alliant 2 (including Alliant 2 Small Business) describing how much effort the team put into ensuring robust transparency, collaboration, and innovation at each phase of the process, especially during Alliant 2’s pre-solicitation phase.

These outreach efforts included:

  • Establishing an Alliant 2 Interact community with more than 8,000 members,
  • Providing a government-wide reviewed business case on OMB MAX,
  • Conducting meetings/presentations for interested agencies.
  • Coordinating agency customer and industry working groups,
  • Hosting five separate pre-proposal conferences attended by over 1000 people, and
  • Publishing seven Requests for Information (RFIs) through FedBizOpps (FBO) with two official industry days, and two separate fully comprehensive and complete draft Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

I know that the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business contracts will meet the needs of federal agencies for IT services and will include a diverse set of highly qualified industry partners.

Download and read the entire GAO decision.

Read more about Alliant 2/Alliant 2 Small Business and the A2/A2SB Interact Community.

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

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Alliant 2: Shaping the Future

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 18, 2016

The Alliant & Alliant Small Business Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) have been a remarkable success for our customers, for our industry partners, and for GSA. Over the last eight years, more than 60 federal agencies have awarded over $36 billion in work to Alliant & Alliant SB partners.

Alliant has also taught us the importance of partnerships, education, training, and customer service in developing and delivering successful contract vehicles.

The Alliant success story is demonstrated in the loyalty we see from our customers. The U.S. Department of Navy, Defense Health Agency, and U.S. Special Operations Command selected the Alliant GWACs as their primary vehicles for IT services.

Having a broad-based scope built on Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) that allows for “anything IT anywhere” plus the ability for all contract types to be performed, the Alliant GWACs streamline the acquisition process for federal agencies, resulting in time- and cost-efficient acquisitions that lead to savings for U.S. taxpayers.

Shaping the Future Alliant

Looking to the future, GSA’s GWAC Program, is working on the next-generation GWACs: Alliant 2 (A2) and Alliant 2 Small Business (A2SB).

A2/A2SB will continue to build on our success supporting federal agencies that have mission-critical, complex IT services requirements for long-term programs.

The A2/A2SB’s pre-solicitation phase has raised the bar in terms of transparency, collaboration, and innovation, by engaging with and involving both federal agencies and industry partners in each step of the process. The A2/A2SB team performed thorough market research for over three years and laid significant groundwork in the pre-planning phase with efforts including:

  • An A2/A2SB Interact community with more than 8,200 members
  • A publically reviewed business case on OMB MAX
  • Hundreds of meetings/presentations for interested agencies
  • Customer and industry working groups
  • Seven Requests for Information (RFIs) through FedBizOpps (FBO) with two official industry days, and two separate fully comprehensive and complete draft Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
  • Five separate pre-proposal conferences attended by over 1000 people

We’re excited when we consider the future for our GWACs. The collective input and feedback toward developing A2/A2SB this past year has been our major contribution to an outstanding product.

What’s New

Here are some of the notable improvements included in A2/A2SB that will give our customers greater value:

  • scope improvements,
  • new information technology (IT) service labor categories,
  • new cybersecurity standards,
  • new environmental standards,
  • incorporation of required Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) regulations/provisions into the master contract so they automatically flow down to the task order level on any/all task orders issued by a Department of Defense (DOD) agency

Collaboration is Key

I’ve always been impressed by the amount of collaboration that goes into the Alliant GWACs among all parties: GSA, the procuring agencies, and the companies performing the work under Alliant task orders. The relationships we’ve built with our government and industry partners have been, and will be, critical to the GWAC program’s continued success.

I’m confident that our stakeholders will be pleased and I cannot overemphasize how important the collaboration is to ensuring we develop and provide a superior GWAC solution for the government. While doing market research and in planning future solicitations and innovations we want to be sure that our intentions are vetted, are on the right track, and cover all angles. The collaboration from customer agencies and industry partners helps us do that.

The final official Request For Proposals (RFPs) for A2/A2SB are on FedBizOpps now with deadlines of September 13 (A2) and September 12 (A2SB), 2016

More information is available at the A2/A2SB website and the A2/A2SB Interact Community page.

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

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GSA Continues to Develop Health IT Service Offerings

Posted by Mary Davie
on July 19, 2016

As stated in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, federal agencies are purchasers, regulators, developers, and users of health IT. In their various roles, they set policy and insure, pay for care, or provide direct patient care for tens of millions of Americans. Over the past seven years, our nation’s health information technology (health IT) landscape has experienced a remarkable transformation.  

With an annual growth rate of 7.4%, Health IT Services is one of the fastest growing markets in both the government and private sector.  Therefore, it is not a surprise that GSA’s IT Schedule 70 is seeing increased attention and interest in its Health IT Services solutions.  So, to ensure that IT Schedule 70 stays at the forefront of the Health IT market and to make it even easier for our government partners to get access to new and emerging health IT services, I’m pleased to announce the release of the new Health IT Services Special Item Number (SIN 132-56).  

GSA’s growing subject-matter expertise in the Health IT market, coupled with our existing online procurement tools, will allow us to provide a best-in-class solution for Health IT market research, acquisition planning, and procurement.

What are Health IT Services?

Health information technology (Health IT) makes it possible for health care providers to manage patient care through the secure sharing of health information. A simple example of Health IT is having an electronic health record (EHRs) instead of your medical history and health information on many pieces of paper stuck in a manilla folder.

Other products and services that fall under Health IT include mobile and tele-health technology, ePrescribing, medical sensors, remote monitoring devices, and other assistive technologies.  Health IT allows individuals and healthcare providers from federal, public health and community-based support organizations to electronically collect, share, and use health information.

Given the wide range of activities, and agencies’ desire for Health IT accessibility, the government is in an optimal position to improve healthcare and reduce costs through the secure use of information technology–making Health IT a valuable and strategic market for GSA.

Goals of the Health IT SIN

The Health IT SIN simplifies the procurement process, making it easier for IT Schedule 70 customers to get access to new and emerging health IT services. At the same time, it fosters competition and promotes small business participation. The new Health IT SIN gives industry partners a way to distinguish their Health IT services offerings from other IT related services already under the IT Schedule 70 program, letting them stand out to agencies seeking Health IT services.  It will also allows agencies to more easily identify Health IT solutions and the experts within the healthcare market.  

The Health IT SIN also supports the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan to expand adoption of Health IT services, reduce prices, advance secure and interoperable health information solutions, and strengthen healthcare delivery systems.

Health IT SIN Development and Collaboration

The new Health IT SIN is the result of collaboration between federal agencies and industry partners.  IT Schedule 70 worked closely with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to ensure the Health IT SIN is a valuable resource to federal, state, local and tribal governments. We co-hosted industry days and agency meetings, and issued multiple RFIs to ensure we captured comments from both customer and industry partners.  Since the beginning of the Health IT SIN development process, VHA has referred vendors to IT Schedule 70 for possible inclusion under the Health IT SIN.  Additionally, DHA has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GSA as DHA’s singular Health IT procurement solution.  

This collaboration creates a win-win for both agencies and industry. Our customer agencies stay involved as active participants by using the Health IT SIN, while our industry partners are committed to providing innovative Health IT Services to government users.

Participation is Easy

Current IT Schedule 70 contract holders must submit a modification to their contract through GSA’s eOffer/eMod web page. Industry partners not yet on Schedule 70 must submit an offer. Please follow the steps outlined in our convenient online guide.

Both new and existing industry partners may be eligible for our FASt Lane program, which gives suppliers shorter processing times for IT Schedule 70 contract actions.  Contact FAStLane@gsa.gov for assistance and visit the IT Schedule 70 Interact page to download detailed instructions and a pricing proposal template.

Also, I encourage agencies visit the IT Schedule 70 Health IT SIN web page for more information on how to use the SIN to purchase Health IT services.

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

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ITS Builds Partnerships Improve Health IT

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 22, 2016

In February 2016, we started a strategic seven-year partnership with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) that represents an estimated $5.4 billion in spend for critical Health IT services and solutions (GSA-DHA Health IT Partnership, 2/4/2016. In just a few short months, it’s already succeeded and proven a model of how we can work across federal agencies to foster collaborative, integrated partnerships to create innovative IT solutions for various mission areas, such as healthcare.

I’m proud to recognize three GSA employees and their DHA counterparts who were recently nominated for the 2016 AFFIRM Leadership Award for their leadership in developing the DHA/GSA Health IT Partnership. The DHA/GSA Health IT Partnership will be recognized and honored at the 2016 AFFIRM Annual Leadership Celebration, Thursday, June 23, 2016.

We continuously strive to grow customer relationships and serve as a trusted advisor to help federal agencies make smarter, more strategic decisions. We work across agencies to foster collaborative, integrated partnerships to not only improve IT acquisition and procurement for our government customers, but also to leverage current IT services and solutions to meet their unique mission and operational requirements.

Jennifer Auble, a customer engagement manager; Larry Hale, director, IT category customer engagement division; and Michael Williams, national account manager with GSA’s Customer Accounts and Research, along with their DHA partners, have worked hard through many political and organizational barriers facing government procurement to achieve a groundbreaking partnership between GSA and DHA that is in the best interests of the federal government and the American taxpayer.

This partnership began when GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and DHA entered into a strategic seven-year partnership representing an estimated $5.4 billion in spend for critical health IT services and solutions. Through this partnership, DHA will direct new health IT procurements to GSA IT contracts, including IT Schedule 70 and the Alliant, Alliant Small Business, 8(a) Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services II (STARS II), and Veterans Technology Services Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (VETS GWAC).

DHA uses these vehicles as the primary means of procuring supplies and services to support their existing and emerging health IT requirements. In addition, DHA has entered into partnership with GSA’s One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) program and with the Assisted Acquisition Services organization.

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

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Celebrating Veterans Success through ITS Contracting Opportunities

Posted by Mary Davie
on November 11, 2015

As we celebrate the Veterans Day holiday, I’m humbled by the many veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have helped build America’s foundation and continue to serve our nation and federal community as veteran entrepreneurs and business owners.

One out  every 10 American businesses today is owned by a veteran, and 5.8 million Americans owe their job to a veteran. I’m also honored to be a part of GSA’s ongoing commitment to our veterans through the strong contracting and business opportunities our agency provides.

For centuries, veterans have served our great nation in a variety of ways, and today’s IT realm is no exception. Every day, ITS programs such as Schedule 70 and the Small Business GWAC Division work with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) and government agencies, in need of customized products and services, to provide quality IT solutions. These contract vehicles also help agencies achieve their socioeconomic SDVOSB goals.

Below are some terrific examples of how the service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses of the Veterans Technology Services (VETS) GWAC are supporting federal agencies.

Providing comprehensive life-cycle support to the NEXRAD Network

Using VETS, the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Air Force awarded the 10-year MSITS task order to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. The small business will support ongoing base operations and maintenance for our nation’s Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) infrastructure, which is a network of 167 weather-radar sites that (1) provides the foundation for all national weather forecasting and (2) collects data for extreme-weather notification and safety systems, military operations, and emergency-management systems.

Creating and securing a wireless network across the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) needed a location-based wireless infrastructure that delivers secure wireless communication across 300 VA sites around the nation. Through the VETS GWAC, a service-disabled veteran-owned small business installed and verified the network, achieving a solution for a broad range of the VA’s data and telecommunications needs.

Marching Onward

To build upon the success of VETS, our Small Business GWAC Division is designing the next-generation VETS GWAC to align with the evolving federal IT marketplace.

Through collaboration with our government customers and the SDVOSB community, VETS 2 will provide your agency the opportunity to work with world-class SDVOSB firms to fulfill your IT service requirements.

Please stay tuned for a series of VETS success stories that we plan to host on our new ITS LinkedIn showcase page.

We also encourage your agency to consider using a small business owned by a service-disabled veteran, whenever you need customized IT solutions. If you have questions about the VETS contract, please contact us at (855) 482-4348 or at www.gsa.gov/vets.

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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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How ITS helps small business make government stronger

Posted by Mary Davie
on June 19, 2013

Small business helps America innovate, create jobs, and grow. These small businesses also play a critical role in moving government forward, and ITS is dedicated to providing ample access and opportunity to connect government to small business. With Small Business Week upon us, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at how ITS is helping small businesses and government work together.

Moving government forward

I’ve worked closely with small businesses for over two decades and I’ve learned that the size of a business has no correlation with its potential impact. I’ve mentioned before that small businesses are the engine for innovation. They have major roles across government in meeting today’s technology demands and requirements. Just in the past couple of years, I have seen small businesses provide:

  • Consolidation of inefficient and costly legacy systems
  • Implementation and integration of cloud technology into agency IT infrastructures
  • 24 hour help desk and support for critical DoD and civilian IT systems
  • Comprehensive life-cycle support to complex IT projects
  • Subscription services to mobile satellite services
  • Access to the most innovative and efficient IT hardware and software
  • Continuous monitoring for cybersecurity

This is just a small sample of how small business has supported government through our ITS solutions, but there are too many to list. The skills, capabilities, and expertise among small businesses are world class, and the variety of ways government utilizes small business shows just how effective these businesses are in supporting agencies’ missions.

How ITS is helping

At ITS, we are dedicated to helping small businesses compete and grow in the federal marketplace. We have a variety of solutions for agencies to access small businesses that allow them  to compete and agencies to meet their requirements in areas like:

It is not enough to just provide access to these small businesses, but we need to help them succeed. We provide training to small business on how to build their federal business and to our large businesses on how to create optimal partnering and subcontracting opportunities.

We are diligently working to provide small businesses all the tools to compete, but the proof of our success in providing opportunities is in the numbers:

  • 85% of vendors on Schedule 70 are Small Business
  • Projected $6.22B small business revenue through Schedule 70 for FY13
  • 100% of small businesses under our Commercial Satellite Communications program have won awards with a total value of over $8M
  • More than $7.6B has been obligated to our SB GWAC program  since its inception including our current Alliant SB, 8(a) STARS II, and VETS GWACs
  • 79% of our largest SB GWAC, Alliant SB, have won task orders
  • $534M has been awarded to small businesses through subcontracting on our Alliant Enterprise GWAC, which is 42% of all subcontracted dollars.

We’re celebrating Small Business Week now, but we continue to be dedicated to the success of small businesses year-round. If you’re interested in learning how you can use a small business to meet your requirements, contact our customer service representatives or leave a message below!

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Big Opportunities for Small Businesses

Posted by Mary Davie
on August 12, 2011

At GSA, we promote small businesses because they are engines of innovation. They’ve got insights and expertise and I love working at an agency that helps them grow and compete in the federal marketplace.

So I’m thrilled that on July 29, 2011, 599 small businesses from across the country received awards on our 8(a) STARS II Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Now in its third generation, 8(a) STARS II is a streamlined program making it easier for government agencies to purchase IT services and meet small business contracting goals. At the same time, the new contract creates real opportunities for these companies to grow in communities across 38 states.

I have seen first-hand what small businesses can do to help government operate smarter and more efficiently. They helped transform GSA’s IT systems, enabling one third of our employees to telework.  They are providing the Federal Acquisition Service’s Chief Information Officer with critical program and application management support. They are even helping us find more environmentally sustainable solutions for our operating environment, something that will reap benefits for years to come.

But don’t just take my word for it. The Department of Defense is now encouraging its acquisition community to use GSA’s Alliant Small Business, 8(a) STARS, and VETS GWACs to access small businesses’ creativity and innovation. The Navy is using Alliant Small Business as part of its IT Services Strategic Sourcing Initiative, something that will ultimately save them money and resources so they can focus on other mission critical activities.

At GSA our commitment to small businesses — such as the 8(a) STARS II program — is a big deal, and we remain committed to working with them and our agency customers to build a stronger America. Let me know how we can continue to do this by leaving a comment or reaching me on Twitter.

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Government IT Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance for Myth-busting

Posted by Mary Davie
on March 22, 2011

I was happy to see so many of you at the 2011 Interagency Resources Management Conference (IRMCO), GSA’s preeminent forum for promoting innovation, transparency, and collaboration among government and industry leaders. The conference was a unique opportunity to put our heads together on the key initiatives that will transform government management.

I was fortunate to sit on a great panel with Karen Lee, from the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Open Government for Federal Spending Transparency Initiative and Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org. We had a great discussion on how open government can drive improved government performance.

I’m a big fan of open government and increased communication, particularly as it relates to better, smarter government acquisitions. This issue is really driven home by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s recent must-read “myth-busting” memo, which basically debunks some of our overly cautious interactions with industry.

In the same spirit of myth-busting and improved government performance, I’d like to debunk some cloud computing myths. OMB has taken an aggressive stance on cloud. We’re all on the hook to move three systems to the cloud by 2012. I’m here to tell you that it can be done intelligently and securely.

Myth #1: Cloud can be anything

With any great innovation comes the temptation to repackage the old as new. You almost can’t open a government or tech trade publication today without seeing the word cloud. But not all cloud offerings are created equal: they must adhere to five essential characteristics. For a brief but thorough explanation, check out the very cool GSA Federal Cloud Computing Initiative video on YouTube.

Myth #2: Public clouds are not secure, and agencies can’t control security requirements

Public clouds are not inherently secure, but, with a little guidance, agencies can put in controls to achieve an acceptable level of security based on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data.

First of all, off-the-shelf security terms are negotiable. Open communication with industry can help agencies define their unique requirements as well as a little help from the cloud experts at GSA.

Second, keeping information systems secure takes constant work. In some cases, cloud service providers may be in a better position to make necessary changes to control risk than if we operated every system ourselves.

Third, agencies can choose what to push to the cloud. Not all systems and data have the same security requirements; not everything is appropriate for cloud. By carefully moving appropriate components to cloud, both cloud-based systems and premise-based systems can become more secure.

Myth #3: Agencies will lose control of their data

Agencies can enforce strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the handling of their data and should build into their requirements a prohibition against data-mining and monetizing.

Myth #4: Moving to the cloud is difficult

Difficult and easy are relative terms. If an agency is facing a technology transition that requires a large capital investment, say in hardware, then making that technology transition may be easier and faster in the cloud. However, every time you move data or applications, there is risk—regardless of whether you move the data or applications to the cloud or different platforms in your own data center.

Good practice in technology generally dictates that systems, applications, or data be moved in pilots or phases. Moving to the cloud is no different. Agencies can move component by component, on a timeline that makes sense for them.

Whatever an agency decides with cloud, GSA can make the acquisition process easier.

GSA is developing cloud-specific blanket purchase agreements that will soon be available to customers for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Email-as-a-Service (EaaS)—based on what we’ve learned from our own cloud-based email procurement and proactive discussions with industry. These vehicles will make it easier for our customers to compare services and acquire what they need from the cloud. See “The Cloud: Battle of the Tech Titans” in Business Week, which explains how cloud is being used today.

To meet immediate needs, we already have existing contracts in place—Alliant and Alliant SB GWACs, and IT Schedule 70—that offer cloud services.

Customers are using all of these acquisitions today to buy cloud-based solution, and they can do those acquisitions quickly.

FACT: Cloud Computing Enables Good Government

We’ve all received our cloud marching orders, but OMB mandates are not the only reason to move forward. Cloud computing is a step forward in addressing the really big challenges we face: budget and deficit crises, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and a population in need of critical government services.

Cloud computing will enable a more efficient, sustainable and effective government for the American people.

GSA can help. Come talk to me. Together we can transform government.

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