Understanding the GSA Ascend BPA

By Tara Franzonello, Program Development Manager, immixGroup

The General Services Administration’s FAS ITC (Federal Acquisition Service, Information Technology Center) is standardizing cloud acquisition with the “Ascend” blanket purchase agreement (BPA). Here’s what you need to know:

Ascend is a multiple-award blanket purchase agreement against the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Special Item Numbers 518210C cloud and cloud-related IT professional services and 54151S IT professional services. It is intended to help agencies simplify cloud acquisition and meet cybersecurity requirements.

BPA task orders can be placed under any of three independent primary pools identified by the government: 

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Government contracts 2022 — Year in review

By Hollie Kapos, Legal Counsel Director, immixGroup

2022 was a busy year, and it was easy to miss some big changes in commercial item government contracting. Below are some key updates from 2022 and what immixGroup is keeping an eye on in 2023 and beyond.

GSA Ascend BPA for Cloud
Ascend is a multiple-award blanket purchase agreement (BPA) under the cloud and professional services Multiple Award Schedule SINs intended to simplify acquisition of secure cloud solutions. Task orders under the BPA will be placed under one or more of three pools: (1) infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service, (2) software-as-a-service, and (3) cloud IT professional services. The BPA will also establish minimum cybersecurity requirements, including cybersecurity supply chain risk management (C-SCRM) and zero trust architecture (ZTA). GSA released a draft performance work statement in May, followed by a market research request for information in July. Using feedback it obtained from industry, GSA plans to release a draft request for quotations in 2Q2023. Suppliers looking to add products to the Ascend BPA should start preparing now; products will need to be on SIN 518210C for eligibility. Read Tara Franzonello’s Washington Technology article for more information.

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API Trends – Building a path to smoother digital transformation

By Sudhir Verma, Director, Emerging Technologies

APIs have become key for enabling an agency’s journey to digital transformation and enhancing citizen experience. Agencies are turning to integration not only to rapidly access critical data, but also to build scalable, resilient applications that can meet the security and regulatory compliance requirements for the public sector.

Understanding emerging API trends and their impact is critical to building better, more efficient digital transformation. Here are some of the trends to look for in 2023.

(1) Composable enterprise

Analysts such as Gartner predict that by the end of 2023, 60% of organizations will identify becoming a composable enterprise as a strategic objective. The need to create packaged business capabilities to achieve such strategies will only increase the importance of APIs. A composable architecture enables organizations the ability to discover all their API capabilities, promote their reuse in a modular way, choreograph or orchestrate them into new applications (or API products), and execute toward measurable business outcomes.

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Our top picks for best SLED events

By Jessica Wilhelm, SLED Contracts Specialist

Marketing budgets are always tight, and we never seem to have enough funding or time to be at every event. immixGroup attended 8 major SLED conferences in 2022 and we identified 3 major themes we wanted to share with you to help you plan and prioritize your 2023 conference selections.

Best value for your wallet

Beyond the Beltway, centrally located in Tysons Corner, is especially appealing to the D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) SLED customer base.  It’s a must-attend conference for sales reps and market intelligence analysts. A booth presence is affordable, providing logo recognition and networking opportunities with DMV customers.

Texas DIR Information Security Forum is cost-friendly, offering great value for your dollars! The Platinum sponsorship includes a 10×20 booth and a speaking session. Besides being well-organized, the sessions are packed with relevant content and a lead list is provided at the close of the conference.

Most informational

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Don’t eliminate yourself from procurement awards by making these mistakes

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Market Intelligence Analyst

As I mentioned in my last blog, “Growing your FY23 pipeline,” the new fiscal year, which kicked off on October 1, offers a myriad of contacting opportunities for GovCons of all shapes, sizes and disciplines. From the standard federal budget programs to existing and new procurement vehicles, such as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), and Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, there is plenty of opportunity out there.

New programs earlier announced by the Administration provide substantial funding, including the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the $860 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Here are a few key, albeit sobering, facts about – and recommendations for – effective federal government procurement:

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Follow the Fed – SLED money trail

By Lisa Kilgore, Contracts Specialist, State, Local and Education

Federal funding and SLED procurement do not exist in a vacuum; instead, they are intertwined and could be seen as two sides of the same coin. The connection between federal and state institutions is symbiotic, dating back to the founding of the nation. There are many instances of federal initiatives spurring growth at the most local level. The post-pandemic world has led to a shift in how our nation views federal initiatives and top-down funding. Understanding the connection between federal and SLED procurement is imperative for lasting success in the public procurement field.

Basics of our governance structure
Let’s bring it back to the fundamentals. Our nation operates under two sets of governance: an overarching federal government, and individual state governments. The separation between the two helps limits the consolidation of power; it allows individual states to do what is best for their citizens, to a degree, without needing federal approval. In the public procurement space, we often highlight the differences between SLED and Fed, dividing the two into distinct categories. It helps us to cater better to our customers. However, it may help to alter that thinking and look at the connections between the two.

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Commerciality: Establishing pricing to the federal government

By Skyler Handl, Corporate Counsel, Public Sector

Selling to public sector customers is different from selling to the commercial market. For example, how much do you know about the government acquisition concept of “commerciality”? To preserve margins in government sales, you need to know how to comply with this concept.

Public sector customers typically require vendors to disclose cost data and then negotiate a profit, or “fee.” This flows through the entire government acquisition supply chain.

Commerciality was introduced as an exception to the general rule of cost disclosure to streamline government acquisition of commercial technology through requirements aligned to commercial market practices. Commercial technology is vetted by the open market, which mitigates risk, and reduces the expense of government acquisitions as development costs are spread across the commercial market. You wouldn’t expect to pay a one-time non-recurring engineering fee for the latest cellphone; it is baked into the price.

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DAFITC Recap: DoD cyber experts emphasize ZTA and RMF reform

By Ryan Nelson, Market Intelligence Manager

When it comes to cybersecurity, look for the DoD to emphasize Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) as the branches push for reform to the Risk Management Framework (RMF), among other hot topics.

At the recent Department of the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower 2022 conference, increased focus on ZTA and RMF topped the list of cybersecurity concerns across the DoD. According to a panel of cybersecurity experts, other top-of-mind topics included the Cyber Security Maturity Model and the need for a better articulated policy for cybersecurity overall.

The panel included cybersecurity experts across the DoD, including:

  • David McKeown – Deputy Chief Information Officer for Cybersecurity and the Chief Information Security Officer for Department of Defense (DoD)
  • Alvin “Tony” Plater – Director of Cybersecurity for the Department of Navy Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
  • Brigadier General Jan C. Norris (USAR) – Deputy Chief Information Officer, Department of the Army Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
  • Scott M. St. Pierre – Deputy Director Enterprise Networks and Cybersecurity Department of the Navy (OPNAV N2N6D)

As mentioned at the outset, panelists generally agreed that all branches of service need to move away from perimeter security to a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA). The panelists noted the DoD released a plan in July for Zero Trust Reference Architecture.

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New Requirement for Software Deliverables to Comply with NIST 800-218

By Skyler Handl, Corporate Counsel, Public Sector

On September 14, 2022, OMB took a substantial step forward in implementing EO 14028 Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity by issuing memorandum M-22-18. This memorandum requires agency leaders to comply with NIST Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF), SP 800- 218,3 and the NIST Software Supply Chain Security Guidance with regards to third-party software in agency information systems. This applies to software developed or modified by major changes after September 14, 2022, regardless of whether the software is a commercial product or COTS item.

How does this impact your business?

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Growing your FY23 pipeline: Five sources of actionable market knowledge

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Marketing Intelligence Analyst

I have been fortunate to have a “first career” in print journalism–New York Daily News, Gannett Newspapers / USA TODAY and The Associated Press–where we learned immediately that no one source of information, whether “primary” or “secondary,” is acceptable; that confirmations and validations are critical.

The same dynamic holds true in our federal government industry, where news, notes and rumors run like unabated streams–and information must be confirmed and validated to call it true and “actionable” market knowledge.

In federal fiscal year 2023, which just kicked off on October 1, there are myriad contacting opportunities for GovCons of all shapes, sizes and disciplines–from the normal federal budget programs and cycles–to existing and new procurement vehicles, such as Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA), Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), and Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts; to the significant programs recently announced by the current administration: The five-year, $1.2 trillion Critical Infrastructure agreement and the $860 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) commitment.

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