Transformation May Be Your Foot in the Door for Federal Sales

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

If you have genuinely transformational technology, public sector IT executives may be willing to listen now more than ever.

In August, public and private sector officials held a series of short discussions on government IT and procurement, emphasizing innovation in everything from protecting critical assets to reforming acquisition methods.

Here are three top takeaways

GSA Schedules

Alan Thomas, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, said plans are being discussed to consolidate schedules for easier acquisition.

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What’s the Future of NETCENTS-2 at Air Force?

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, consultant

More details have begun to emerge about how the Air Force intends to fulfill procurement of products after NETCENTS-2 expires in November 2019. Recently, GSA blogged about the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Air Force and GSA. This MOU outlines a partnership between the two organizations that will allow the Air Force to establish a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) from GSA’s IT Schedule 70. This will entirely replace NETCENTS-2 for products.

The biggest change affecting potential bidders of this contract will be the requirement to be on GSA IT Schedule 70, which can take some time. However, teaming between companies is allowed, so subcontracting may be an option if that is the case. Many of the other details remain the same—the BPA will still be mandatory, as NETCENTS-2 is, and the competition type remains full and open. The ceiling value of the IT Products BPA is anticipated to be slightly lower than the current ceiling of $5.5B over five years. The number of awardees could marginally exceed the twenty-five NETCENTS-2 products category awardees.

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Agencies Starting to Embrace New Telecom Contract

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

In August 2017, the GSA awarded the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract to 10 companies that will provide systems integration work to civilian agencies to update telecommunications infrastructures with modernized next generation networks. The EIS contract replaces the current Networx contact, which expires in FY20. While most agencies are ramping up to use EIS and send out solicitations for telecom projects, the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration seem to be ahead of the curve.

Iris Cooper, senior procurement executive at Treasury released a statement at the ACT-IAC Network Modernization Forum on June 19, affirming that the department is looking to move forward with EIS and was expected to release its first task order solicitation in early July. Eric Olson, who replaced Sonny Bhagowalia as the Chief Information Officer at the department, will be overseeing this solicitation. In a departure from standard procedure, the contract will not be managed by a contracting officer. Therefore, having his buy-in, along with the blessing of the prime contractor, will be crucial for getting your solution in the door.

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USSOCOM Fields Innovative Technology at SOFWERX

By Ryan Granato, analyst

Demand for new communications and network capabilities for both the Command and the operator are of the highest priority for USSOCOM these days and were oft-repeated themes during the recent Special Operations Forces Industry Conference. SOFIC has turned into the event where industry and government converge every year to showcase current capabilities and discuss mission-related technology challenges.

According to Jim Smith, USSOCOM’s acquisition executive, current communication requirements revolve around issues such as network visibility, assured communications and reduced digital signature to avoid detection in operating environments. Solutions that address IoT and edge computing complement the command’s need for a fully-connected and sensor-enabled operator. In doing business with USSOCOM, Smith emphasized the importance of utilizing SOFWERX.

USSOCOM typically fields new capabilities at a rate much higher than their counterparts. However, technology continues to advance at a rate that traditional government acquisition processes cannot keep pace with. In response, USSOCOM launched SOFWERX, a technology incubator of its own to increase government and industry collaboration through a variety of USSOCOM-hosted projects and events. Kelly Stratton-Feix, director of Acquisition Agility at SOFWERX, stated that the immediate priorities set forth for SOFWERX are shorter procurement cycles and increased support of small businesses.

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OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD

Mark Wisinger_100x135By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Every program manager and acquisition professional in DOD has been leveraging the newest buzzword: OTA, which stands for Other Transaction Authority. OTAs have been in the acquisition arsenal for years, but Congress just recently relaxed rules and restrictions on their use, paving the way for OTAs to be the new hot method for rapid technology insertion and piloting. The Office of the Undersecretary of Acquisition and Sustainment recently has been working on an OTA handbook to help guide DOD acquisition professionals on the do’s and don’ts of this newly revitalized procurement method. It’s no surprise we’re starting to see the use of more and more OTAs.

According to Bloomberg Government, DOD accounted for $2.1B of $2.3B spent through OTAs in 2017. The Army has been a leader in DOD driving most of the OTA usage increases to date, concentrated in the Army Materiel Command, although the Army Cyber Command’s use of OTAs is growing. The Defensive Cyber Operations office, within Army’s PEO EIS is setting up a new OTA vehicle known as C-RAPID, which will be targeting rapid piloting and insertion of defensive cyber tools. Companies that sign on to the consortium will field between 6 and 24 Army technology requests a year for defensive cyber tools.

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Huge Opportunity Opens Up for Small Business on CDM

American flag on a wooden texture table

By Gina Brown, contracts specialist

The Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation (CDM) program has gone through a lot of changes since it was first launched in 2013. And, each step of the way seems to make the program easier for companies to participate.

The program’s latest change allows companies to include Small Business to be part of CDM and play a bigger role in the program. As the program moves into its next phases, this could be a huge opportunity for companies that have not historically been able to participate.

What’s changed?

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Tracking government “openness” changes in contracting

By Jenni Taylor, manager, government programs and contracts

Federal contracting officers are moving towards more openness in procurement, which is a step forward in the cumbersome federal procurement process, according to Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association.

Fischetti’s remarks came during a panel discussion at our recent Government IT Sales Summit, titled “Without a Contract, There Is No Deal: Updates on Contracts and Procurement.”

Contracting problems occur in government because contract professionals “are at the end of a long chain” of requirements definitions, budget analysis, time, coordination and approvals that Fischetti says often have nothing to do with requirements themselves. Despite that long process, Fischetti added that the federal procurement generally works free of political intervention.

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