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  1. Now that you have learned about oral presentations and the multiphase downselect technique, the final article in our three-part series will examine the Comparative Analysis technique. As you learn more about the different techniques for streamlining your acquisition, remember that no matter what technique you use, you should always follow your agency’s policies on procurement. What is Comparative Analysis? Comparative Analysis is a technique in which federal government evaluators compare one offeror to another throughout the evaluation process, make recommendations based on who is best suited to do the work and provide the government with the best value selections. The approach is most effectively used on non-complex acquisition and on task/delivery orders under FAR subpart 8.4 and 16.505 (which is the authority for NITAAC contracts). Comparative Analysis also can be used for FAR part 13 simplified acquisitions, including subpart 13.5 for commercial items up to $7 Million. Comparative Analysis is not recommended for use under FAR part 15, among others. FAR 16.505 gives Contracting Officers broad discretion in determining the process they will use for selecting awardees for individual task orders. However, with any acquisition technique, including Comparative Analysis, they must make sure the procurement technique and evaluation criteria are included in the task order solicitation. Once a technique has been identified, it is vital that the ordering Contracting Officer follow through. Comparative Analysis Benefits Save Time and Money Using Comparative Analysis often saves the government time and money since evaluators can make decisions as a group and arrive at a decision more quickly. This allows them to get the product or service in the hands of the requesting agency faster, who then can execute against its missions faster. This can result in significant savings even beyond the dollar value of the award. Engage in Open Discussions With Comparative Analysis, Contracting Officers can have detailed conversations with offerors about proposals. The only requirement is that each offeror is treated equitably to avoid the perception of one offeror having an advantage over another. NITAAC’s Electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) enables our clients to do this at the touch of a button, making Q&As much easier. There’s no phone tag or worrying anyone might miss out. Every Contract Holder is treated equitably. Scoring and Ranking FAR 16.505 allows evaluators to use a more streamlined procurement process. Comparative Analysis eliminates the need for ratings, which frees evaluators from assigning and defending ratings. Instead of an official ranking system, Contracting Officers can use any evaluation system they choose such as pluses and minuses, as long as they can justify why the awardee was chosen. Solicitations that intend to use Comparative Analysis should clearly state the parameters of the government’s review and the requirements, such as the government reserves the right to select responses that exceed the minimum requirements and benefits the government, or that the government is not required to select the lowest price bid. Establishing the requirements up front is key to eliminating protests. Please visit the NITAAC video page or tools and templates page for more resources on acquisition techniques. Or, call us at 1.888.773-6542. As always, don’t forget to check with your agency to see if they have further guidance regarding this and other streamlined approaches. Email NITAACsupport@nih.gov with your questions.
  2. NITAAC recently announced it obtained 801 certification for fiscal year 2022. But what exactly is 801 certification and why is it so important? To answer that question, let’s start by looking at the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is the name for a series of federal laws that determine the annual budget of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The U.S. Congress oversees the defense budget through two yearly bills: the National Defense Authorization Act and defense appropriations bills. Within the NDAA is Section 801. Section 801 provides guidance on the “procurement policies, procedures, and internal controls” that must be followed to assure compliance with defense procurement requirements, particularly for a nondefense agency when it is performing an assisted acquisitions to procure supplies and services on behalf of the DoD. More specifically, Section 801 requires that a nondefense agency can only place an order, make a purchase, or procure services on behalf of the DoD if the nondefense agency has been certified and meets all criteria to comply with defense procurement requirements. NITAAC is certified and meets all criteria. The Value of the NITAAC 801 Certification NITAAC's recent certification is an important designation as it allows DoD to use NITAAC Assisted Acquisitions Services to place an order, make a purchase, or otherwise procure property or services for the DoD, in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, without a special waiver. This is particularly beneficial for the DoD as large buys handled by NITAAC assisted acquisitions teams have cycle times that are on average 30-90 days. Additionally, NITAAC only focuses on information technology buys. Many agencies lack in-house information technology expertise and there is now a requirement for contracting professionals who deal predominately in information technology acquisitions to be Digital IT Acquisition Professional (DITAP) certified by 2022 before they are assigned a digital services requirement. All NITAAC contracting officers and specialists are DITAP certified, which means they are specially trained to handle information technology procurements. Not only have they completed the rigorous training process, but they are experienced in implementing the most innovative and streamlined strategies in IT procurements. Continuing a Long-Standing, Mission-Driven Partnership The DoD has turned to NITAAC to support more than $8.7 Billion in acquisitions since its GWAC’s inception. The United States Army, Air Force, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to name a few, have long relied on NITAAC to assist with IT modernization, mission analytics and cybersecurity. The NITAAC certification ensures that the DoD will benefit from the capabilities and expertise of our contracting officers, as well as the efficiencies and economies associated with leveraging resources and requirements. NITAAC is always ready to serve the DoD, so you can keep your focus on your mission. To learn more about NITAAC Assisted Acquisitions Services, call 1-888-773-6542 or visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/services/assisted-acquisitions.
  3. Now that you have learned about oral presentations, the second article in our three-part series will examine the multiphase downselect technique. As you learn more about the different techniques for streamlining your acquisition, remember no matter what technique you use, you should always follow your agency policies on procurement. So…what, exactly, is the multiphase downselect technique? The multiphase downselect technique consists of evaluating responses in phases, to progressively reduce the number of submissions being considered for an award. The purpose is to reduce the time and cost of selecting an awardee, both for the government and interested contractors. FAR 16.505 suggests using a multiphase downselect approach when the effort required to respond to a potential order is resource intensive, for example, when requirements are complex or will develop over time. Using the multiphase downselect technique is simple and involves two different types of downselects. Advisory, where the government advises the contract holder if they are, or are not a viable competitor, but leaves the decision to proceed up to the contractor; and Government Initiated, where contractors are told whether they can, or cannot, proceed. Each method has risks and benefits. For example, a benefit of Advisory down-selects, where contract holders can choose whether to proceed, is that contractors often choose not to proceed. This is helpful in reducing the number of protests. On the other hand, in Government initiated downselects, a potential risk, depending on the dollar value, is that you might be required to conduct debriefings and your decision is subject to protest. Multiphase is most effective if you are anticipating many responses, or when you have a complex requirement and want to reduce the cost to encourage more competition. However, this technique also can prove useful when all contractors are initially considered on price. Using the downselect technique, you can ask for rough estimates, conceptual approaches or past performance. The contractors most likely to submit the highest value solutions can be selected for one-on-one sessions with the government to increase their understanding of the requirements, provide suggestions for refining the requirements, and discuss risk mitigation As you begin the solicitation proposals, please keep the following in mind: Be clear and transparent. Clarify the phases and submission requirements. Make sure to establish evaluation criteria for each phase. Publish a notice that describes the acquisition and the criteria that will be used in each phase to allow potential responders to make informed decision about whether to participate. Identify and detail all the phases in the fair opportunity notice. NITAAC encourages streamlining the award of task or delivery orders while providing fair opportunity as part of the process defined by FAR 16.505. Our GWACs give contracting officers broad discretion in developing appropriate order placement procedures, including the multiphase downselect. Please visit the NITAAC video page or tools and templates page for more resources on acquisition techniques. Check with your agency to see if they have further guidance regarding this and other streamlined approaches. Visit our home page at nitaac.nih.gov or call us at 1-888-773-6542.
  4. Did you know … that many industry proposal writers take on proposal development duties on top of their 40-hour work week? that written proposals are sometimes created by updating the last response, bearing the uncaught typos and prior agency names? Imagine a real time solicitation response tailored to your requirement. With a properly developed solicitation, this could be exactly what you get. I’ve yet to see a successful one-size-fits-all approach to contracting. Of course, certain techniques and approaches have worked well over the years—they are our best practices. Even so, sometimes it’s time to try something new because maybe that will work too. Not convinced? What do you think when you read this brief comparison between written responses and oral responses? Instead of the written approach which includes… Consider the oral response… farming out parts and pieces to subject matter experts and then laboring to create one voice the team who will be performing the proposed work will be preparing together and rehearsing their unified approach company standardized formats with aesthetic graphics and charts the actual subject matter experts telling you what they assessed from your requirements and how they would solve your problem. This is often backed up on slide decks or websites with visuals of projects they’ve completed to verify what they are saying a (seeming) regurgitation of the government’s requirement, leading to a compliant check list in narrative form and a price is a tailored oral walk through that clearly demonstrates the value the government can expect to receive. These solutions are also illustrated with compelling and relevant evidence Do I have your interest…but perhaps you’re not sure where to start? If so, why not try an initial practice step that will help build your muscles? A simple approach is to lead your program and acquisition team through one-on-one market research sessions. What will that do for you? Consider the following: The government team The contractor team works collaboratively to develop worthwhile questions and draft requirements documents to share has access to government draft documents, communicates an interest in the requirement and begins internal business planning has the contracting team to set up the logistics which includes any selection process to reduce the number of sessions gains experience working together to unify as a team culled for this project and present its insights and capabilities is led by the contracting officer who facilitates the discussion and ensures the meeting is in alignment with the stated invitation and topic (and of course rules and regulations!) gains experience addressing the government’s need in a time bound approach, focusing on the requirement, not a sales pitch Closes the sessions and assesses responses in aggregate to further define its requirements waits patiently for updates – and feels kept in the loop! Perhaps you can see by the roles and actions above that interactive market research trains the government team’s muscles and prepares them for similar activities in oral presentations. By facilitating one-on-one market research sessions, the government not only receives better industry insights, it helps smooth the process for successful oral presentations. These sessions provide industry with an opportunity to help the government with relevant feedback and real time to rehearse oral presentations. Additionally, it benefits all with experience in time management--which is critical for oral presentations. Are you ready to get started using oral presentations? Are you feeling uncertain about walking the oral presentations plank? You are not alone! Many of my program offices were reluctant to try oral presentations. But once they went through the process with me, they’ve all said they only want to use oral presentations going forward. Why? Because the value of oral presentations to the government from industry competitors is immediately evident. It distinguishes a detailed and tailored solution from a check-the-box regurgitation of your solicitation. In part 1, we discussed some first steps to prepare your team for oral presentations. Now, in part 2 of this series, we’ll finish our discussion of preparation and cover the importance of establishing a clear and coherent solicitation process. This process includes using effective solicitation language, tips to communicate with the competitors and options to conduct oral presentations. As you know, oral presentations are a show, not tell, practice to find an industry solution to a government solicitation. However, orals don’t run themselves. For smooth sailing, I cannot emphasize enough that the contracting team post a draft solicitation early in the process. This draft should include information about your oral presentation process or at least that you will be using oral presentations. Who benefits from early engagement? Everyone does, here’s how: Contracting Program Industry Can seek constructive feedback and correct areas that are incomplete or ambiguous. Ultimately, this can result in a clearer contract which requires less intense contract administration Can receive constructive feedback in areas that are needed to fully flush out the scope and objectives of the project. This can result in the most effective, on-time and acceptable deliverables, post award Can share insights from having completed multiple similar projects. This can result in time saving efficiencies and avoiding known pitfalls. Early communications also allow industry the opportunity to prepare for oral presentations At a minimum, early communications can eliminate the government scrambling for answers, making revisions and avoid extending the solicitation’s closing date. This is even more critical during oral presentations because employee schedules have been cleared and conference rooms have been reserved. To avoid rough waters, plan your orals and follow your plan. To conduct oral presentations, a best practice is having a process plan in place and publishing certain elements of it in the solicitation (see sample at the end of this article). Much of the information here focuses on oral presentations in a virtual environment. Consider the following logistical choices: Solutions to consider Consequences, alternatives and notes Educate the acquisition team The contracting officer is advised to make extra time available in the technical evaluation panel training. This is to: · Address any questions so that all members can feel confident to participate in orals on day 1 of presentations · Collaborate with your team and make choices that benefit the entire team (platforms, real-time questions to the contracting officer, etc.) Use WebEx to host and record the oral presentations. In my experience, most participants have been able to access WebEx without technical issues. Also, · Although Skype can be used to host orals, many government employees have had difficulty accessing or staying connected to it (sometimes it’s a virtual private network issue) · I do not recommend MS Teams for this activity. In some configurations, MS Teams does not allow you to delete the team chat, so using Teams could be a procurement integrity risk · By recording the presentations, it supports the government’s efforts for any future legal advice and involvement Have an alternate way to meet the acquisition team during oral presentations. This can be an open channel to communicate any important real-time questions When I use WebEx to host orals, I concurrently use Skype to establish instant messaging with the government acquisition team · If using Skype, be sure the team clicks the circle “don’t join audio” when they join your meeting. This will ensure you can instant message the team or address any incoming can’t-wait messages · If a government team member has both WebEx and Skype open (with audio) the member will not hear the WebEx presentation very well · If it is part of your solicitation, when the government team is scheduled to meet and develop questions for industry, the team will have to re-access Skype with audio visual access. This can be solved by closing out of the meeting and reopening it (and clicking the circle “use Skype for business full audio and video experience”) · During the question development time the technical chair usually drafts group questions on a word processing document for all to see Now that we’ve covered the preparation portion of this process, let’s focus on developing clear and coherent solicitation language. I cannot overemphasize how helpful it is to share up front everything industry needs to know to participate in your oral presentations. Such language is always dependent on the requirement however, I’ve included sample language at the end of this article. This language has evolved over time and I anticipate it will continue to evolve. The intent of sharing it is to help you get started. It’s up to you to find the right plan that fits your requirement and your team. However, here is one tried and true approach to conducting orals. Consider: The government team The contractor team The contract specialist coordinates the logistics (calendar invites, fields questions) Keep in mind competitors may be inviting subcontractors or other teaming agreement partners to meet your need. Consequently, the team may have different questions based on their experience with your requirement and organization. Be proactive with sharing process information so they can focus on preparing and delivering their solution rather than trying to guess at the logistics of oral presentations The contracting officer facilitates all oral presentations to ensure fairness and consistency across all competitors and to ensure adherence to the solicitation Like the government team, the industry team has worked hard to get to the oral presentations starting line, so please ensure business courtesies and professionalism are intact When you are in a virtual environment ensure procurement integrity is maintained and remind the government team to disable all automatic listening devices prior to starting orals Competitors just want to know the rules of the road. When the contracting officer signs on 10 minutes before the presentation, it is a time to welcome the government and industry teams, share the rules of the road and field any lingering questions. This is the time to resolve any potential technical issues When it is part of your solicitation, the contracting officer and the technical evaluation panel work together to establish questions for the competitor about their oral solution. If the technical evaluation panel chair feels comfortable (establish this during technical evaluation panel training session) asking questions and being recorded it can be beneficial to have the technical expert ask the technical questions. When opening the questions and answers portion with industry, the contracting officer should refer to the solicitation language and articulate the questions serve as elaborations and clarifications to competitor presented information The competitor should self-monitor and assign incoming questions to their team When it comes to due diligence, perhaps you can see by the roles and actions above, oral presentations aren’t much different from written response evaluations. Oral presentations do not remove any responsibilities in our procurement process. Rather orals are a streamlined approach where the acquisition team works together to hear and review the real-time presentation simultaneously. The information in this part may seem hefty but it will begin to make more sense as you get started and make it your own. You are not alone – consider reaching out to a trusted colleague or join the federal mentoring community at https://openopps.usajobs.gov/communities/13 for further assistance. For now, I invite you cast anchor and walk confidently through orals, complete your evaluations and prepare for debriefings. Sample solicitation language: Oral presentations date: The government will contact contract holders with the actual date, time, virtual location, and other logistical instructions for the oral presentations. Competitors will be managing their own presentation including sharing slides, changing slides, etc. Assigned times will be provided on a first come, first served basis. Please be prepared with your team’s availability and expect contact from the government for this information within approximately an hour after the task order request has closed. The government intends to hold oral presentations the week of (provide an estimate or at a minimum add these dates in the final solicitation). Within five business days of issuing this task order request, or when feasible, the government asks for a courtesy notification from the contract holder if their company intends to compete for this work. This courtesy will allow the government to complete the logistics for oral presentations. Contract holders may send this notification to the contracting officer and contract specialist. --- Technical Presentation Instructions Contract holder submissions must be clear, coherent and delivered in enough detail for the government to determine its level of confidence in the contract holder’s ability to perform the requirements of this task order (TO). Presentations must clearly demonstrate how the competitor intends to accomplish the project and must include convincing rationale and substantiation of all claims. Contract holders must use their own equipment to deliver the presentation. The government conference room may include standard equipment such as a lectern, microphone, presentation screen with computer connection cords, guest Wi-Fi, etc.. Competitors may arrive up to 30 minutes before the scheduled time of their presentation to set up, test connectivity, etc. The government will provide an electronic invitation to the contract holder with a link to attend the presentation. Competitors may bring up to nine attendees. Competitors are encouraged to have only proposed personnel deliver the presentation. For the successful contract holder who wins this TO, please note the annual contract holder performance assessment may include a government statement assessing the proposed personnel, what personnel performed, and any disruptions that may delay work due to contract holder personnel replacements. Any firm may attend only one oral presentation, whether for itself as a prime contract holder or as a subcontractor for only one prime firm. Contract holders will use the exact presentation submitted at the close of the TO request. The contracting officer will ensure the written presentation is identical to the submitted documents, any substitutions may disqualify a contract holder from award. Contract holders’ presenters and attendees may not use electronics, phones or other means to reach their firm for any input during the presentations. Oral presentations may be recorded. Given current global conditions, there is a high probability oral presentations may be, in whole or in part, held virtually. If the presentation is not held virtually, this determination will be decided by mutual agreement between each contract holder and the government. If presentations are held virtually, each member of the competitor’s team may be required to adhere to more specific restrictions. Such restrictions may include signing a statement certifying during the time of the presentation the member did not reach out to resources outside of the identified and present oral presentations team. The contract holder is responsible for sending the names and email addresses of all oral presentation participants to the contracting officer and contract specialist prior to the start of the presentation. Due to internal government technological connectivity issues the government prefers to use a WebEx meeting for virtual orals. The government is open to alternate software solutions however alternate suggestions will require a connectivity check prior to scheduling oral presentations. Sample solicitation schedule Sample email calendar invitation Team Competitor: Thank you for your interest in our requirement. We have agreed upon the following date and time for your presented solution to this requirement. We look forward to meeting you online. Please forward this calendar invitation to the appropriate members of your team. If you have any questions between now and this meeting please let us know. We will open the WebEx session at exactly 7:30 am ET so you may begin any preparation which suits your team. If presentations are held virtually, each member of the competitor’s team may be required to adhere to more specific restrictions. Such restrictions may include signing a statement certifying during the time of the presentation the member did not reach out to resources outside of the identified and present oral presentations team. The contract holder is responsible for sending these signed statements after the presentation (a personal email from each team member is acceptable) to the contracting officer and contract specialist no later than close of business the day the oral presentations are held. The contract holder is responsible for sending the names and email addresses of all oral presentation participants to the contracting officer and contract specialist prior to the start of the oral presentation. (insert a copy of the oral presentations table schedule from your solicitation) Thank you, Contract specialist Oral presentations are over, now what? Congratulations! You’ve made it through the biggest part of oral presentations—conducting them. Throughout this series, we’ve covered a lot of information about oral presentations. In part 1 we discussed first steps and preparations, in part 2 we wrapped up preparations and conducted oral presentations. And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, I’m telling you there’s more to it. I invite you to stick with me for part 3, where we’ll look at ways to close out oral presentations. Specifically, we’ll focus on debriefings and capturing lessons learned. Under our NITAAC GWAC task order solicitations we use FAR 16.5 processes which guide our award notifications and debriefings. Let’s break out a few items for your consideration. Tasks Tips Provide an award notification in email and invite the competitor to request a debriefing Oral presentations might be new for you and some of the participating competitors. To excel, consider: · In good judgement, to provide industry with as much information as you legally can. Don’t let them walk in uninformed to your debriefings. By pre-sharing this information it will cut down on questions. I usually only schedule debriefings for one hour so I need to use my time wisely. Pre-sharing information is especially important to small businesses who often operate with less available resources · Work with your government team to establish schedule coherence so you can include in your notification an array of dates and times the competitor requesting a debriefing can choose from · Choose to hold oral debriefings with clear feedback to the competitors. Some contracting officers may record the debriefings for legal convenience, self-assessment and as a record to the file · Oral debriefings can give the contracting officer some experience of what the competitors went through in oral presentations. This serves as a continuous feedback loop which benefits future government business processes Send the competitor a recording of their mp4 oral presentations when you send the award notification Your contract file will include a record of the oral presentations, whether this is the mp4, notes, a slide deck or all of these. I recommend recording and sharing the competitor’s own mp4 presentation with them. It provides a rare opportunity for industry to self-evaluate its presentation. In the NITAAC community this is a way for our contract holders to take advantage of feedback for growth opportunities. However: · Use caution when sharing this mp4 proprietary presentation. Ensure it is sent only to the correct business point of contact · I recommend sending it in a separate email via a secure email and file transfer service (and reference the second email in your award notification) · Many agencies offer them, the NIH version can be accessed at: https://secureemail.nih.gov/bds/Login.do · Other options may be a secure cloud link, or physically on a DVD or USB Provide honest, constructive feedback in your debriefing At the end of this article, you can find oral presentations sample debriefing language. Also consider: · Industry is looking for ways to improve as it is not cost-effective to run a business by continuing to do what isn’t working · An effective feedback process allows for the NITAAC contract holder community to provide better oral presentations in the future · Feedback can influence our contractor holders’ abilities to retain the right skilled staff and recruit the right skill set for your task order solutions Now let’s focus on capturing lessons learned. For those who are committed to continuous professional development, this is a never-ending process. One approach is to survey, interview and separately ask your technical evaluation panel members, industry competitors and your contracting team. There are a few places in the process where I’ve found asking for feedback to be most helpful. They are: At the end of the last technical evaluation panel consensus meeting (program); during scheduled debriefings (industry) and after the kickoff meeting (your contracting team). Here are a few questions to consider asking: Did we meet our goal? What worked? What did you like? What might still be unclear? What would make this process better? Would you do oral presentations again? If so, how come? I find oral presentations an invaluable addition to streamlining my procurements. Thank you for sticking with me for this series. I would love to hear your feedback: How has it helped you? What could be added? What could be improved? Is there anything else you would like to share? Sample language for debriefing oral presentations Near the beginning of the debriefing I share something like: Before we begin, I would like to provide a general overview of the oral presentation process. As noted in the FAR, oral presentations can be effective in streamlining the source selection process. Our oral presentation structure and schedule as published in the solicitation was identical for all competitors. The overall oral presentation process includes the morning schedule as noted in solicitation. The technical evaluation team received a copy of the slide deck and supporting documents (excluding price) the morning of each presentation. After the oral presentation the government team resumed in the afternoon to conduct the technical evaluation and consensus. The CO facilitated the evaluation and consensus. At the conclusion of the oral presentations for all competitors the government team met again and performed a review of the pricing. --- I conclude oral presentations debriefings with something like: For oral presentations I provide the following general information to all contract holders whom I debrief a. Consider making concluding statements. For instance, a competitor may spend time discussing how an approach was used in another environment. How does that translate to the current requirement? A concluding statement might be: “Based on the experience we just described we excel at ____, from our assessment of your environment, we will use ___ approach. Consequently, in your environment we anticipate this will do ___ and ___. The benefit to the government of this approach is ___.” b. Consider minimizing a focus on historical accolades. If in personal employment interviews it is the time to talk about yourself, in oral presentations it is the time to talk about the government’s requirement. How well do you know the specific government agency and its environment? What is your solution? How would your detailed understanding be applied in the specific government environment? Who do I contact? Kelly Lael is an assisted acquisition contracting officer at NITAAC. She is passionate about solving problems in an innovative manner that highlights the strengths and talents of federal employees. Please contact Kelly at 301.402.5683 and Kelly.lael@nih.gov.
  5. NITAAC Strategic Priorities for FY22 The New Year brings resolutions and a renewed emphasis on change. In fact, data from YouGovAmerica suggests that about a quarter of Americans will make resolutions, and 20% think they'll accomplish them. In the spirit of New Year traditions, I wanted to share with you the NITAAC strategic goals and priorities for FY2022. Priority #1: Accept No Substitutes: Nobody Does Federal IT Acquisition Quite Like NITAAC Although many things change, customer service and our commitment to excellence remains the same. Customer service is not something we take for granted at NITAAC. We've geared our operations around our customers’ needs so whether they are just beginning a solicitation and need help with research, or they’ve already placed a task or delivery order on one of our vehicles, NITAAC is committed to making sure they get answers faster, so they can keep their acquisitions on track. In 2022, we will seek ways to continually improve upon our service delivery. To that end, we will be developing new training programs, website resources, white papers, blogs, videos and other resources, such as virtual industry days, to support our federal partners and their information technology (IT) missions. Priority #2: Revolutionize IT Acquisitions with CIO-SP4 We are steadfastly working to bring the next great Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) to market. The $50 billion GWAC will focus on enabling emerging technologies in IT — such as blockchain, cybersecurity technologies, agile software development and "as-a-service-solutions" — as well as reducing administrative burden on the competitive process behind the GWAC. On January 11, 2021, we posted Amendment 013. Additionally, the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business vehicles are currently being extended for up to one year to ensure there is no gap in contractual coverage between CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP4. This will push performance of task orders well into Q3 2028, giving agencies plenty of runway to place their acquisitions now and get the benefits of FAR 16 flexibilities. The new projected award date for CIO-SP4 is no later than November 11, 2022. Priority #3: Leverage DITAP Certification The current push for modernization is not just about updating or replacing old technology. It’s about “creating the platform for change”— that is, finding more cost-effective, innovative approaches to delivering IT and improving service to the citizen. A common component of the push for IT modernization is delivering data, information and transactional services across multiple platforms to enhance how citizens engage with the government. Unfortunately, buying digital services is not a skill that is gained through the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) curriculum. Many seasoned Contracting Officers are now facing a start-of-FY2022 deadline to learn and apply new skills for Digital Services (DS). In 2022, we plan to leverage our Digital IT Acquisition Professional (DITAP) certification to assist federal agency partners whose Contracting Officers have not yet achieved this distinction. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and remote working have made it increasingly difficult for Contracting Officers to take the six-month training. All NITAAC Contracting Officers and specialists are already DITAP certified, and are specially trained to handle procurements on each of our three Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts for IT – CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS. Not only have they completed the rigorous training process, but they are also experienced in implementing the most innovative and streamlined strategies in IT acquisitions. Priority #4: Continue to Leverage Best in Class (BIC) GWACs: CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS There is much promise in leveraging BIC. A significant portion of our revenue resulted from being able to leverage our BIC status. But, even more importantly, the designation will result in even further cost avoidance for our agency partners. In 2022, we will continue to educate agencies about the value and cost-savings leveraging our BIC-designated vehicles affords. Priority #5: Eliminate Redundancies and Deliver More Value with NITAAC Government-Wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) NITAAC delivers quality IT equipment at competitive rates. In fact, federal agencies who use NITAAC realize dramatic savings when purchasing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) IT products. Using NITAAC allows federal agencies to reduce the administrative cost of establishing their own IT contracts and leverage the buying power of civilian agencies for laptops and desktops. The more federal agencies participate, the greater the overall savings. Agencies get the same low price regardless of the quantities ordered. In FY22, we will have a renewed emphasis on helping federal agencies understand how they can realize dramatic savings when purchasing COTS IT products through NITAAC GSS. Although most resolutions are abandoned, our commitment to our strategic priorities is unwavering. I am excited about the promise of FY2022 and look forward to continuing to reimagine acquisitions and deliver procurement excellence.
  6. Dear Federal Partners, Information technology manufacturers and suppliers across the country are struggling with significant supply chain disruptions that are impacting their ability to meet customer and market demands. The supply-chain bottlenecks -- around the world -- have caused record shortages of many products that American consumers are used to having readily available, such as household goods, electronics and, most importantly to NITAAC, information technology (IT). As one of the biggest purchasers of IT, the federal government is not immune to these challenges. According to Bloomberg, for Fiscal Year 2022 the federal government has allocated $109.4 billion for unclassified and classified information technology. The budget includes $58.4 billion for civilian agencies and $38.6 billion for unclassified defense agencies. To date, supply chain disruptions have resulted in significant delays in fulfilling federal IT task orders across all government contracting vehicles. Although we don’t have the answer to the supply chain challenges, NITAAC wants our federal partners to know we are actively working to find ways to make fulfilling IT task orders on our Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) as easy as possible. In December, we convened a special listening session with our contract holders. The purpose of the session was to hear firsthand the supply-chain challenges our contract holders were experiencing. Our intent is to develop a roadmap that will allow us to better understand roadblocks, set timelines, and manage expectations with our agency partners. Ultimately, we aim to be able to tell our agency partners how long an order will take so a fulfillment timeline can be addressed in their acquisition planning. Additionally, if supply chain disruptions persist, we are committed to meeting with our contract holders on a consistent basis to receive updates and other pertinent information that we will then use to inform our conversations. According to a recent article from Forbes, there is “no end in sight for the COVID-led global supply chain disruption.” The article cited several factors that will require resolution, such as the high cost of shipping containers, lack of truck drivers and warehouse capacity issues. As our federal partners continue to navigate these challenges, NITAAC is here for you. We understand the important role information technology plays in the federal government and are committed to understanding the bottlenecks resulting from the current supply chain challenges. We are resolved to coming up with practical solutions to help you procure the IT products and services you need. I have said it before, and it now takes on brand new meaning—customer service is at the heart of what we do at NITAAC. We are fully invested in making sure the lines of communication are open, that we are identifying issues upfront and are ensuring federal agencies can get the IT they need to achieve their agency missions in a reasonable amount of time. It is our promise to be transparent and to tackle the supply chain issues we are currently facing head on. As we close out 2021, I wish you a healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.
  7. The current push for modernization is not just about updating or replacing old technology. It’s about “creating the platform for change”— that is, finding more cost-effective, innovative approaches to delivering IT and improving service to the citizen. A common component of the push for IT modernization is delivering data, information and transactional services across multiple platforms to enhance how citizens engage with the government. Unfortunately, buying digital services is not a skill that is gained through the Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) curriculum. Many seasoned contracting officers are now facing a start-of-FY2022 deadline to learn and apply new skills for Digital Services (DS). Realizing the void in digital services knowledge, in 2018, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) introduced the Digital IT Acquisition Program (DITAP). It is a specialized and immersive training program that helps contracting officers gain digital services expertise. The program also raises the overall competency of the acquisition workforce. DITAP focuses on teaching federal contracting officers how to design innovative and flexible procurements for services and solutions, such as human-centered design, iterative development, cloud and everything-as-a-service (XaaS). Any purchase over $7 million must be handled by DITAP certified personnel. OFPP gave agencies a hard deadline of FY 2022 to train and begin buying technology using DITAP-taught and other evolving approaches. Agencies have been instructed that any technology purchase worth more than $7 million must be handled by a contracting officer or specialist that has earned DITAP certification, often referred to as FAC-C-DS. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and remote working have made it increasingly difficult for contracting officers to take the six-month training. In fact, to date, only 400 contracting officers have completed the certification. NITAAC contracting officers and specialists were among the first 400, trained and certified early on to seek evolving technology and service our customers at the cutting edge. As 2022 quickly approaches, many agencies are left wondering how to manage their digital IT services procurements without the proper credentials. NITAAC has the solution. As all NITAAC contracting officers and specialists are already DITAP certified, they are specially trained to handle information technology procurements on each of our three Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts for IT – CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS. Not only have they completed the rigorous training process; but, they are experienced in implementing the most innovative and streamlined strategies in IT acquisitions. OFPP does offer remedies for contracting officers who have yet to obtain their credentials, such as requesting a waiver and obtaining the appropriate certifications within a year. A delay in certification, however, could lead to a penalty for an agency. According to the OFPP, “non-compliance may result in increased risk to effectively soliciting, evaluating and administering critical digital service contracts that could have lasting ramifications on the agency.” How other agencies can access NITAAC Contracting Officers NITAAC’s Assisted Acquisitions Service is the perfect solution for agencies who lack DITAP certified professionals but have digital IT services requirements. With Assisted Acquisitions, federal agencies benefit from the capabilities and expertise of NITAAC contracting officers, as well as the efficiencies and economies associated with leveraging resources and requirements. It’s a win, win for all. If you are interested in partnering with us on a requirement, or simply want more information, contact NITAAC Support at 1.888.773.6542 to speak with an intake specialist. NITAAC contracting officers also take questions every business day about our government-wide acquisitions contracts through our help desk at NITAACsupport@nih.gov.
  8. There are many reasons an agency might decide to use an assisted acquisition. Oftentimes, agencies use assisted acquisitions simply because they do not have the time, or manpower, to complete the acquisition in-house. In other cases, an agency may not have the expertise needed to complete the procurement. In the case of information technology, a lack of in-house expertise is increasingly a driver as there is now a requirement for contracting officers who deal predominately in information technology acquisitions to be Digital IT Acquisition Professional (DITAP) certified by 2022. Rest assured, all NITAAC contracting officers and specialists are DITAP certified. Regardless of the reason an agency chooses to conduct an assisted acquisition, our contracting professionals will work with you to determine the best course forward for your acquisition, from the market research and acquisition planning phase, all the way through administration and closeout. NITAAC will pair you with an experienced Contracting Officer capable of identifying innovative information technology contracting approaches on any of our three Best in Class Government-wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). NITAAC operates on a 90-day procurement administrative lead time (PALT), beginning from the date we receive the completed submission package, but our average time from solicitation to award is just 45 days. That means an agency will have a contractor ready to begin work in a few short months versus the typical 6-9-month cycle with comparable procurements. Agencies should rest assured in knowing that we don’t sacrifice quality for speed—every IT solution will be of the highest quality, because of the rigorous vetting and evaluation process behind every vendor on a NITAAC GWAC. With Assisted Acquisitions, federal agencies benefit from the capabilities and expertise of our contracting officers, as well as the efficiencies and economies associated with leveraging resources and requirements. It’s a win, win for all. If you are interested in partnering with us on a requirement, or simply want more information, contact NITAAC Customer Support at 888-773-6542 to speak with an intake specialist who will advise you on the process and required paperwork or visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/services/assisted-acquisitions.
  9. Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month builds interest in the importance of cybersecurity and the resources needed for all Americans to be safer and more secure online. The theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” The theme empowers individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting cyberspace because if everyone does their part, cyberspace will be more resilient for everyone. The federal government is not immune from the need to #BeCyberSmart. In fact, the importance of federal cybersecurity cannot be overstated. Every day, the federal government fends off tens of thousands of cyberattacks from adversaries. Some of these attacks are simple phishing emails–aimed at hopefully tricking an unassuming federal employee into doing something wrong – but others are more sophisticated attacks targeting the nation’s most precious data assets. For federal agencies to “Do Their Part,” they must equip themselves with the proper cybersecurity solutions. Cyber technologies run the gamut and procuring these technologies can often be difficult. For some agencies, procurement officers not versed in cybersecurity might find it challenging to get fair pricing. For others, fair opportunity competition might be a stumbling block they’re not familiar with. Fortunately, agencies don’t have to undergo the cybersecurity procurement process alone—NITAAC can help. All NITAAC Contracting Officers are Digital IT Acquisition Professional (DITAP) certified, which means they are well-versed in designing innovative and flexible procurements for information technology and digital transformation. NITAAC offers an array of Best in Class cybersecurity services and solutions through our three Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). The CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business GWACs, in particular, have specific Task Areas where agencies can fulfill the need for cybersecurity solutions, such as Task Area 1 (IT Services for Biomedical Research, Health Sciences and Healthcare), Task Area 3 (Imaging) and Task Area 7 (Critical Infrastructure and Information Assurance). CIO-CS offers managed solutions on-premise or offsite, along with “as-a-service” commodity buys for out-of-the-box setup and distribution. Cybersecurity has proven to be a necessary investment for government agencies. Technology has provided new ways for government agencies to work, interact with citizens and improve overall operations. The NITAAC Contract Holders have the right cybersecurity solutions in place to ensure agencies can accomplish their missions knowing their information is protected and they can #BeCyberSmart. To learn more about NITAAC’s cybersecurity solutions, visit nitaac.nih.gov/cybersecurity
  10. At NITAAC, we not only are fueling information technology (IT) modernization across the government, we are also leading by example. As one of the federal government’s top sources for ‘everything IT,’ NITAAC has taken the message of modernization to heart and has reimagined how agencies acquire IT. NITAAC’s three easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, Best in Class (BIC) Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) – CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business, and CIO-CS – provide any federal agency, government-wide, with an easy and accessible method for acquiring more effective citizen services or mission delivery. Whether your agency buys direct or needs help from a Contracting Officer, NITAAC has a program that’ll work for you. And no matter how large or how complex your IT challenge may be, you can count on NITAAC Contract Holders to get it done quickly and get it done right. From operations and maintenance of legacy systems to complex, emerging technologies like Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, NITAAC Contract Holders are ready to help federal agencies excel. Check out CIO-SP3 with its 137 labor categories and ten task areas, CIO-SP3 Small Business with depth in five socioeconomic categories, or CIO-CS for IT Commodities and As-A-Service Solutions. What’s more, the NITAAC Government-Wide Strategic Services (GSS) program, a subset of CIO-CS, provides a real opportunity under category management for buyers to acquire laptops and desktops quickly and efficiently. Although fiscal year 2020-2021 was full of challenges and a collective new normal as we faced a global pandemic, we’ve been undaunted in our efforts to improve our customers’ user experience, choice of contracting approach and overall accessibility. So, what exactly can agencies expect when they engage with NITAAC? Read ahead for a quick synopsis and check out the full Federal News Network 2021-2022 NITAAC Contract Guide for more information. Plus, here’s a link to watch the NITAAC Contract Guide video interviews. Best in Class GWACs: CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS The BIC designation doesn’t just benefit the NITAAC community; it benefits the entire federal government. The BIC designation is awarded to contracts that consistently deliver strong results. By relying on contracts with good track records, agencies — and the federal government as a whole — can raise the baseline for the quality of acquisitions. The BIC designation for all three of our GWACS signals to the acquisition community that NITAAC consistently demonstrates value that allows agencies to save time, money and realize speed to delivery. We also offer solutions and processes necessary to meet the federal government’s ever-evolving IT requirements. Quite simply, BIC tells the federal community that agencies are getting the best in both services and spend under management (SUM). Agencies can meet all their SUM tier goals (0, 1, 2 and 3) using NITAAC BIC GWACs. We are tremendously proud of this distinction because it’s a testament to the quality of our Contract Holders, contracting officers, customer service and overall team. But, even more importantly, the designation will result in even further cost savings for our agency partners. Since 2012, agencies have obligated more than $35 billion to NITAAC GWACs because they understand the value and cost-savings doing so affords. Democratizing Expertise with Assisted Acquisitions If your agency would prefer even more detailed guidance throughout the acquisition process or you just need an extra pair of hands, our Assisted Acquisitions program is ready to pair you with an experienced FAC-C, Level 3, Digital Services Certified Contracting Officer capable of helping you navigate the procurement process. Warranted acquisition professionals will work with you to determine the best course forward for your acquisition, from the market research and acquisition planning phase all the way through administration and closeout. NITAAC Assisted Acquisitions is there for your agency throughout the entire procurement lifecycle. Eliminating Redundancies and Delivering More Value with NITAAC GSS The Federal Government spent over $89 billion in 2020 on hardware, software, telecommunications, IT security, and IT professional services through tens of thousands of contracts and delivery orders. NITAAC is pleased to serve as one of three Best in Class sources for purchasing laptops and desktops for civilian agencies. In fact, NITAAC GSS increased 33% in 2020 (over 2019) for laptop and desktop buys. What’s more, NITAAC GSS goes beyond standard configurations, offering products outside of the OMB-mandated specifications such as Apple iPads and Macs. It’s a perfect program for end-of-year use-it-or-lose-it funds. Accept No Substitutes: Outstanding Customer Support Customer service is not something we take for granted at NITAAC. We've geared our operations around our customers’ needs so whether they are just beginning a solicitation and need help with research, or they’ve already placed a task or delivery order on one of our vehicles, NITAAC is committed to making sure they get answers faster, so they can keep their acquisitions on track. From a vendor standpoint, open and frequent communications are key. For our CIO-CS Contract Holders, we work very hard to rapidly approve their Technology Refreshment Proposals (TRP) to add new commodities on the contract so customers can always get what they need, when they need it. We guarantee that TRPs will be reviewed within 72 hours, but the majority of TRPs are reviewed within 24 hours. If a Contract Holder or customer needs something sooner, we ask them to call NITAAC Support so we can expedite the review. Want to learn more? To learn more about these, and all the ways NITAAC can help you reimagine your acquisitions, read the Federal News Network 2021-2022 NITAAC Contract Guide, watch the NITAAC Contract Guide video interviews or contact our customer support team at NITAACsupport@nih.gov.
  11. The federal buying season begins in August and runs through September. During this time, many agency procurement officers will make their final selections to meet end-of-year spending requirements, as most government allocated funds are often “use-it-or-lose-it,' meaning they won't carry over until the next fiscal year. Laptops and desktops continue to be among the most purchased items year-over-year during the federal buying season. In fact, every year the federal government spends more than $1 billion on laptops and desktops. As agencies contemplate their end of year spending needs, NITAAC is here to help. NITAAC is pleased to serve as one of three “Best in Class” Government-Wide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for purchasing laptops and desktops for civilian agencies per memo M-16-02 issued on October 16, 2015. Simply put, this means that NITAAC has been determined to offer the best value for the bulk of the Government's laptop and desktop needs. With Category Management principles and a “Best in Class” certification, NITAAC GSS allows agencies to buy their laptops, desktops and tablets with confidence, knowing that they are receiving the highest quality products at the most competitive prices possible. Now on version seven of GSS, the catalog of products offered have increased. For example, tablets and thin/zero clients are now offered, and options have expanded over the years to include security enabled features, warehousing, asset tagging and protectors, just to name a few. GSS also offers Apple and PC laptops, desktops, tablets and two-in-ones and features a wide array of quality information technology products for federal civilian and DoD agencies. As you contemplate your end of fiscal year needs, check out NITAAC GSS to learn how we can help your agency eliminate redundancies, increase efficiency, realize more value and significant cost savings. NITAAC’s Ordering Guide makes it easy to purchase product offerings under the NITAAC GSS program. To view the ordering guide and learn more about NITAAC GSS, visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/services/strategic-solutions.
  12. Level the playing field on your next IT procurement. In 1996, Congress passed what is now known as the Clinger-Cohen Act (CCA), which eliminated the General Services Administration (GSA) as the sole source for acquiring information technology (IT) and allowed other federal agencies to assume a lead contracting role. The Act was created with one mission in mind: To speed up IT purchasing so that by the time technology got to the buyer, it wasn’t obsolete. To achieve this, the CCA introduced Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). These were to be administered by Executive Agencies that met rigorous standards set by the Office of Management and Budget. Each GWAC made awards to a pre-competed, pre-qualified pool of vendors who could then bid on all its orders. As other agencies had specific IT needs, they could place fast turnaround task or delivery order requests against the GWAC and its pool of sellers, shrinking a years-long purchasing cycle down to mere months. This streamlined process was codified in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) as “fair opportunity” under FAR 16.505. NITAAC was one of the first Executive Agents to be granted GWAC authority and today, more than 25 years later, we still offer three GWACs to federal agencies looking to purchase IT faster, more easily, and from a level playing field of pre-qualified vendors. Fair opportunity explained. Fair opportunity is a requirement that federal agencies purchasing IT products and services must follow when using a GWAC. It states that if a purchase exceeds $3,500, every company that holds a contract with that GWAC must be given an equal opportunity to respond to a request for proposal (RFP) on services, or a request for quote (RFQ) on products. Fair opportunity is intended to prevent agencies from giving unfair advantage to one contractor over another. The concept of fair opportunity is mandated by FAR 16.505(b). There are other great benefits in FAR 16.505, like no protest on orders under $10M ($25M for the DoD), but let’s stick to fair opportunity for now. There are two good reasons for an agency to exercise fair opportunity. First, the FAR requires it. Second, fair opportunity is a great way to ensure that you get the best value for your agency. As a buyer, you strengthen your bargaining position when you give all the awardees on the contract a fair chance to compete. Whether you choose your incumbent or go in a new direction, fair opportunity will give everyone involved in the acquisition process assurance that you made the right decision for the right reasons. How NITAAC helps agencies meet fair opportunity. Unless using an exception to fair opportunity as described in FAR 16.505(b)(2), ordering contracting officers must provide fair opportunity, FAR 16.505(b)(1) for orders exceeding $3,500. In the case of small businesses, the ordering contracting officer also must determine if there is a reasonable expectation of obtaining offers from two or more responsible small business concerns that are competitive in terms of market prices, quality and delivery unless one of the exceptions in FAR 16.505(b)(2)(i) applies. Rather than leave it up to the agencies to determine how to ensure fair opportunity, NITAAC has designed an Electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) that ensures fair opportunity is carried out correctly on every order. This web-based, secure system is fast and easy to use—allowing contracting professionals to walk through the entire solicitation process seamlessly, with FAR references at every applicable step. Meeting fair opportunity with e-GOS. e-GOS provides streamlined IT ordering, enabling agencies to quickly upload requirements and supporting documentation, manage the competition, handle questions and answers, submit amendments if necessary and finally, select and notify awardees. Agencies control the time frame based on the level of complexities, but responses can be received in, on average, as few as three days for products and 42 days for services. Additionally, the system features built-in FAR guidance and satisfies fair opportunity to be considered (FAR 16.505). e-GOS can also serve as a database of record, as all files are maintained indefinitely or, if you prefer, all documents stored can be downloaded and printed for your official file. NITAAC is here to ensure that every IT award an agency issues is carried out in a fair and equitable manner, according to all applicable laws. To learn more about NITAAC and fair opportunity, call us at 1.888.773.6542 or visit us at nitaac.nih.gov.
  13. Many federal agencies lack an understanding of the various types of cloud services available on Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs). As a result, agencies are still purchasing cloud services as an add-on to other contracts, something that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) worries could lead to security challenges. What’s more, many federal workers lack the skillsets to effectively transition to a cloud-first environment. While the benefits of cloud computing may be obvious – economy, flexibility, and speed – the path to getting there is less so. There is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution, and with the speed of emerging technology, it can be hard to keep current. That's where NITAAC can help. Our GWAC contract holders have deployed cloud solutions for agencies as diverse as the USDA, the DoD and the State Department and learned a few best practices along the way. The following tips will prove invaluable to any agency contemplating moving to the cloud, especially during COVID-19 where agency missions are being accomplished remotely and outside traditional networks. Tips to Successfully Deploying Cloud Solutions 1. Provide workforce training: As federal agencies continue to learn more about the cloud, ensure that the workforce is properly trained so you can get maximum value from your cloud purchase. 2. Have a cloud strategy in place before you purchase: Don’t procure cloud for the sake of procuring cloud. It is pertinent to have a cloud strategy in place to ensure long-term success. 3. Ensure the right decision-makers are involved: Decide who inside and outside the agency should be engaged, to ensure your strategy is aligned with workforce demands. 4. Ask hard questions regarding cost savings: Conduct an ROI analysis to ensure the benefits of going completely to the cloud are worth it for your agency. And, once you have asked the hard questions, developed a strategy and are ready to make a purchase, NITAAC recommends keeping in mind the Cloud Smart Buying Strategies recommended by the OMB: OMB Cloud Smart Buying Strategies · Agencies should leverage the bulk purchasing power of the federal government through common contract solutions · Agencies should attach specific performance metrics and expectations to service-level agreements · Agencies should pay special attention to how providers treat high-value assets The NITAAC Difference Built with cloud acquisition in mind, the NITAAC CIO-CS GWAC is a full suite of information technology commodities and solutions capable of meeting any of the latest government technology trends, from cloud computing to cybersecurity to mobility. The offerings are always current, with a technology refresh process that enables product updates to be added as soon as they become available, not in days or weeks, but hours. The CIO-CS team is committed to assisting customers, whether it means walking them through how to issue a Request for Quotation using the NITAAC Electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) or advising them on the Federal Acquisition Regulations for Indefinite-Delivery Contracts ordering prescribed in FAR Subpart 16.505. NITAAC is Here to Help The promise of the cloud is great. Cloud can transform the way agencies do their work by making them more agile, effective and efficient, not to mention by yielding significant cost savings. When your agency is ready to move to the cloud, NITAAC is here to help.
  14. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. In fact, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness. The contributions of small businesses are so great that federal legislation has been enacted to ensure that small businesses have fair and equitable access to federal spending. This legislation includes the requirement that federal agencies meet goals for small business and establishes several socioeconomic categories by which they can do so. The SBA negotiates with agencies to establish individual agency goals that, in the aggregate, constitute government-wide goals. There are 24 agencies that are subject to meeting socioeconomic goals, and the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), through our Best in Class Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), is uniquely poised to assist each of these agencies in meeting their goals and fulfilling their information technology-related missions. Goals Met with CIO-SP3 Small Businesses The NITAAC CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC features a wide variety of leading small business innovators and can be used by any federal, civilian or DoD agency to fulfill information technology requirements and meet socioeconomic goals. CIO-SP3 Small Business boasts pre-vetted contract holders in key socioeconomic categories, such as: 8(a): The SBA 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain entry in government contracting. This certification is intended for organizations that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC features 133 8(a) designated Contract Holders. Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone): The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in HUBZones. It also gives preferential consideration to those businesses in full and open competition. The CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC features 22 HUBZone small businesses located in underutilized urban and rural communities. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB): The SDVOSB designation is given to small businesses that are at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans. The CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC features 53 SDVOSB Contract Holders. Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB): To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program. In fact, the federal government's goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year. The CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC features 21 dynamic Women-Owned Small Businesses. NITAAC Has You Covered No matter your socioeconomic goal, CIO-SP3 Small Business can help you meet it. To learn more about CIO-SP3 Small Business, visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/services/cio-sp3-small-business.
  15. The 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy — Cloud Smart — is a long-term, high-level strategy to drive cloud adoption in Federal agencies. This is the first cloud policy update in seven years, offering a path forward for agencies to migrate to a safe and secure cloud infrastructure. This new strategy will support agencies to achieve additional savings, greater security and faster services. In the update, the office of Management and Budget (OMB) is looking to accomplish a few key things: Retool security to provide flexibility for cloud access Improve the skills of the workforce when it comes to working with cloud; and Refine procurement methodology to accommodate the pay-as-you-go nature of commercial cloud computing A key aspect of the plan involves agencies going through their application inventories and "discarding obsolete, redundant, or overly resource-intensive applications" to focus on applications that can be migrated to the cloud or at least are less expensive to maintain. On the procurement side, the strategy says federal agencies still lack a "basic understanding of the various types of cloud services" available on government-wide contracts and in the private sector. Many agencies are still purchasing cloud services as an add-on to other contracts, something that OMB worries could lead to security challenges and a lack of awareness about cloud assets by broader staff. To mitigate these challenges, the OMB offered what it calls its Cloud Smart Buying Strategies. The strategy offers several common tips for buying cloud products: 1) Agencies should leverage the bulk purchasing power of the federal government through common contract solutions. 2) Agencies should attach specific performance metrics and expectations to service-level agreements. 3) Agencies should pay special attention to how providers treat high-value assets. While the benefits of cloud computing may be obvious - economy, flexibility and speed – the path to getting there is less so. There is no one-size-fits-all cloud solution, and with the speed of emerging technology, it can be hard to keep current. That's where NITAAC can help. While many agencies may be struggling with an appropriate cloud strategy, many of our GWAC Contract Holders have already deployed cloud solutions for agencies as diverse as the USDA, the DoD and the State Department. Cloud Smart is about equipping agencies with the tools, knowledge and flexibilities they need to move to the cloud according to their mission needs. It’s about including a continuous security and compliance strategy that bakes these elements into maintenance and operations. It’s about using automation tools to securely audit and manage resources in the cloud. And, it’s about how cloud managed service providers are helping automate operation models to achieve continuous compliance. All the while producing efficiencies and providing mission-driven high-quality experiences for end users. NITAAC Best in Class GWACs are here to help agencies implement their cloud strategy by providing access to low-cost, high-quality IT products and services through our pre-vetted, highly qualified contract holders.
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