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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Agency Mobile Resources at the Ready following OMB Memo

Posted by Mary Davie
on September 7, 2016

Note: This is a guest blog post by Amando E. Gavino Jr., Director, Office of Network Services, ITS/FAS/GSA. He is responsible for a portfolio of telecommunication acquisition solutions that provide government agencies the ability to meet their diverse set of telecommunication requirements. Acquisition solutions include Networx, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions – EIS (the future replacement for Networx), SATCOM, Enterprise Mobility, Connections II, Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative – Wireless (FSSI-W), and the Federal Relay Service.

Many of you are aware that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Mobile Services and Devices memo on August 4, 2016. The intent is to vastly enhance acquisition and management of mobile services and devices across government.

Resources and Tools Are Available to Help Agencies

Agencies saw an early draft of the memo and now that it’s final, it’s a great time to review resources available to support every agency in achieving the goals set forth by and in the spirit of the OMB memo.

Leverage Government-wide Acquisition Strategies – Resource number one is the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution. It gives agencies a variety of service plan and device options from leading national wireless carriers. Information about the program and how to order is available on the GSA website.

Another resource is GSA’s Wireless Economic Model downloadable Excel-based spreadsheet to give agencies a rough order of magnitude concerning your estimated costs and savings when using new wireless service plans. In addition, a Wireless Guide is available to help agencies move from existing contracts and carriers with step-by-step instructions. You can also access a User’s Guide, FSSI Wireless Ordering Template, and ordering instructions. For more resources and templates, visit the Enterprise Mobility Resources web portal.

Optimize Plan Pricing and Device Refresh Schedules – When it comes to OMB’s directive to optimize pricing, the GSA mobile solution has a strong three-year track record of success in optimizing plans and cost savings. About 85% of defense and civilian cabinet-level agencies are using FSSI Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), achieving a government total $29 million savings compared to prior rates since the May 2013 FSSI-W award. Agencies that have moved to the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution find average cost savings of 27% compared to previous wireless service costs. These agencies pay on average $14 less per unit per month. As a reminder, the BPA published prices differ from the actual service prices agencies have negotiated when using the FSSI-W BPAs so please check with us to get prices paid information when you are making comparisons. You’ll find that it’s hard to beat the prices we’ve achieved for the features in the service plans offered.

Carriers include devices at no cost with service plans and users have a choice of devices with each service plan. In accordance with OMB’s guidance, previous generation devices are typically equally capable of meeting government requirements and can be acquired at significantly lower prices. Agencies also have the option to buy service plans for government-furnished equipment (GFE) and user-owned devices.

Scheduling device refreshes is flexible too. No-cost device refreshes happen based on commercially available cycles of 10 to 20 months, although agencies can determine a refresh schedule that works best for their users.

Baseline Agency Usage and Quarterly Reports – Once an agency uses the existing Government-wide GSA mobile solution, the built-in requirements for carriers to provide usage reports will assist in agency quarterly reporting. These reports can help agencies to analyze usage and optimize mobile service levels, including identifying and terminating unused (or zero-use) devices and services. The pooling option for data and minutes saves dollars for agency customers by allowing agency high-volume users to leverage purchased and unused minutes and data from lower volume users.

Optimize Agency Requirements – The OMB memo also addresses actions agencies must take to consolidate contracts, track and improve inventory of mobile devices, and pool mobile services to avoid overage charges. Depending on size, agencies using the existing government-wide FSSI mobile solution can choose to consolidate wireless contracts at the bureau level and then into one enterprise-wide agency contract. Smaller agencies might fully consolidate initially without phases.

Reach Out for Personal Assistance

For more assistance, GSA has an Enterprise Mobility Team that is happy to help with any questions you have or support you need. You can contact us toll-free at (855) ITaid4U (482-4348), or contact our Enterprise Mobility Team directly through kelly.adams@gsa.gov, richard.jones@gsa.gov or jon.johnson@gsa.gov.

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

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FY 2015 Sees Agencies Saving Dollars on Wireless

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 15, 2016

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY 15. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

As agencies move to a more mobile workforce, we have seen their demand for wireless services increase. Government use of GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) skyrocketed 500% over FY14.

This increase is due to greater demand for better management and savings as agencies integrate mobile technology into their IT enterprise. It’s also due to agencies transforming their work environments with more mobile and flexible options.

Embracing Cost Savings

In FY15, we saw an average of 27% in savings with FSSI Wireless BPAs compared to prior year expenses for those agencies.

These buyers found Monthly Recurring Charges (MRCs) per device dropping to $38.82 per user per month, from the $55.40 federal average at the start of the program, over many common voice and data smartphone plans. The BPAs are saving government agencies more than $16 per month per user. This marks a new low for the average MRC and highest monthly savings rate to date.

Since these are service costs, and not just one-time costs, the savings are compounding each month agencies are on the contract.

FY15 federal government savings for the program exceeded $10 million as a result of better pricing, management, and competition credits. This means the government is leveraging government-wide discounts to save more each year, while it deploys devices with a greater focus on meeting the ever-increasing data needs for agencies.

Managing Wireless and Mobile Better

Another big priority we saw in FY15 was agencies’ commitment to better managing wireless resources across the enterprise. 85% of defense and civilian cabinet-level agencies are using FSSI Wireless BPAs. Many of them are slowly consolidating wireless via phased task orders to fully consolidate and better manage mobile assets.

Managing wireless better, attaining volume-driven discounts, and consolidating orders makes agencies more efficient operationally as well as financially. Consolidation, standardization, better inventory management, and increased security are top priorities. Tools that can help them manage mobile resources, applications, and security will become even more important going forward.

Other Wireless Insights

Agencies want flexible features when buying wireless, which is fueling the growing popularity of the FSSI Wireless BPAs. Discounted wireless plan pricing, no-cost devices, and the pooling option for data and minutes are saving agency dollars by allowing an agency’s high-volume users to leverage the unused minutes and MBs purchased by lower volume users, further reducing overage costs.

The most popular data add-on and data-only plans continue to be 500MB Pooled and Unlimited Data plans. Like last year, the most popular voice plans under the BPAs are the 400 Minute Pooled and 100 Minute Pooled plans. This means that agencies have been getting better at driving their carrier costs down by purchasing what they need and optimizing their plans, rather than the “set it and forget it” wireless purchasing and management approach of the past.

About half of federal agencies using FSSI Wireless are using two or more contractors to meet their enterprise-wide wireless needs. This may be a factor of transitioning to a new contract, after which they’ll consolidate to one carrier. It can also encourage greater competition and cost savings in task order negotiations.

FSSI Wireless BPA users reported the ability to do faster procurements than anticipated. This is a plus when doing a phased approach to fully consolidate and allowing a flexible transition timeline depending on agency need, while driving down the transaction costs.

What’s in Store in FY16

GSA in partnership with our customer agencies is already working on the next generation of wireless and mobile solutions – known as Mobility 2.0.

Mobility 2.0 is a collaborative approach with a cross-agency task force to address the next generation of acquisition planning aimed at supporting how the government buys and manages wireless/mobility programs in the future.

We’re preparing to launch a new Mobility 2.0 Interact Community that industry and agencies can join to keep up-to-date on new initiatives and plans.

The February 9th Mobility webinar and April 14th live event are for agency officials to keep abreast of the latest trends, initiatives and collaboration about government wireless requirements, needs, and best choices for acquiring wireless and mobile resources. Save the dates and stay tuned to @GSA_ITS twitter account on how to register.

In the meantime, agency buyers looking for savings and management tools can start with GSA’s Enterprise Wide Mobility website.

The good news from FY15, and hopefully in coming years, is….The more agencies use government-wide wireless contracts, the greater cost savings for government and taxpayers.

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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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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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FY 2014 Year-End IT Purchasing Data Tell Our Stories

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 6, 2015

This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14.

Gain insights into what rocked IT in FY14….

The government’s IT purchases tell a story. Gone are days when IT was in a silo off in the corner. Now, IT is a key part of the mission equation. IT investments made in Fiscal Year 2014 give us the latest chapter in the story of what’s important to government as a whole.

Agencies are feeling pressure to develop mission enhancing technologies. They want solutions that will expand and contract as needed and serve multiple purposes, without technology investments becoming outdated and stale. They look for ways to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars wisely, realize IT cost savings and acquisition efficiencies, and meet our service goals to the American people. And they look to GSA for help.

GSA is proud to play a role in helping agencies buy smarter, faster, and for greater value. We work closely with CIOs, CFOs, and CAOs across government to understand our customers’ current and future requirements. We can also look at fiscal year-end purchasing data to give insights into what rocked our government IT world in the past year.

Stay Tuned for Closer Looks at Each IT Area

Being the largest IT acquisition organization in the federal government, it is our responsibility to create an environment where agencies and industry can obtain the necessary information to understand buying patterns, trends, and best practices. That means even greater transparency beyond our extensive customer and industry outreach efforts.

To that end, I will run a series of blog posts here in the next week or so to take a closer look at FY 2014 purchasing trends and activity in different IT areas such as cyber, wireless services, commodities from IT Schedule 70, satellite services, and more.

The data we’re using is based on activity and trends we see on GSA’s IT contracts. The data not only gives an idea of our aggregated IT priorities and trends in 2014, but what might be coming next. I encourage you to join us and check back often over the coming weeks as we look back at FY14 IT to better understand this recently closed chapter.

And remember to follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.

 

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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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