GSA takes the easy way out to solve contracting challenge

The General Services Administration’s choice to create a blanket purchase agreement for Salesforce cloud integration and support services on the surface seems logical.

GSA Salesforce DecisionIt’s a widely used platform — according to a simple search on website there have been 227 contracts worth more than $61 million since fiscal 2011— and one that needs more structure and control across government.

“The marketplace for Salesforce implementation and integration services was fragmented and had some disparity in there,” said David Shive, GSA’s chief information officer during a press call on Jan. 20. “When we looked, we saw there were no established quality standards for Salesforce development. We saw there were inexperienced vendors that were winning with new Salesforce customers, but sometimes had some dubious results coming out from those inexperienced vendors. We saw there was inconsistent delivery of code and configuration from agency to agency. There was failed implementations that was negatively impacting adoption of the tools and the processes surrounding those tools. And we saw that some vendors were rebuilding the same apps for the same agency and were developing closed systems in an otherwise open environment.”

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NIH-run IT contracting vehicle slashes fees

One of the federal government’s largest governmentwide acquisition vehicles is slashing the fees it charges agencies to purchase IT products and services.

NIHThe National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center — known as NITAAC — announced it would pare back the prices for its three offerings by as much as 35 percent.

The center is one of just three entities authorized by the Office of Management and Budget to manage governmentwide acquisition contracts, or GWACs.

NITAAC officials cited the success of three agency-run programs for the fee drop. In 2015, the center expanded its services, including offering assisted acquisition services to Defense Department agencies.

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Six ways feds can improve IT acquisition and access

A group of federal contracting advocates teamed up to analyze how to improve the government acquisition process, particularly around government/contractor relations.

PSCThe team — comprised of the Professional Services Council (PSC), the Technology Councils of North America, the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the California Technology Council (CTC) — came up with six “guiding principles” that will make it easier for government to buy IT and help new and smaller companies break into federal contracting.

Download: Delivering Results: A Framework for Federal Government Technology Access and Acquisition

“Our message is simple: Government must remove the high hurdles to participation and innovation for all so that firms from across the nation can compete on a level playing field,” said Dave Wennergren, PSC executive vice president. “That we have come together around this set of overarching principles sends a strong signal that the government is constrained by how they ask for technology solutions, not who they ask.”

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OFPP: Inaugural IT acquisition cadre starts work

An information technology-focused cadre of acquisition professionals will begin work, said Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung.

OFPPThe creation of the group was mandated by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.

“We are delighted that this week we kicked off our first class of digital IT acquisition specialists,” said Rung during an Oct. 26 panel discussion at the ACT-IAC Executive Leadership Conference.

“It’s career acquisition employees who partner with industry to go through this six-month experiential, hands-on training, and the idea is to put them back in the agencies to touch the IT acquisitions,” she said.

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There’s hope for local procurement reform at ‘Code for America’

‘The promise of technology and data transparency … is very exciting and will bring about change.’ But there’s a lot of work to do.

It’s not a secret that the procurement process is problematic across all levels of government in the United States. That’s certainly true in local jurisdictions.

RFPProcurement has especially been a source of frustration in tech circles, where it might not be surprising for vendors to find a root canal more pleasant than dealing with cumbersome and antiquated municipal RFP processes usually designed for purchasing physical products than IT services.

While procurement problems persist, there’s some hope, too. Some of the leading minds in local government procurement reform recently gathered at the 2015 Code for America Summit at the Oakland Convention Center to discuss the some success stories in different parts of the county, in addition to the lingering and persistent challenges.

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