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Found 8 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A 2019 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget directs agencies to increase their use of Best in Class (BIC) contracts. But the case for BIC solutions goes well beyond any mandate. BIC, part of the federal government’s category management initiative, is a government-wide designation for acquisition solutions that can be used by multiple agencies and that satisfy key criteria defined by OMB. A BIC designation means that a vehicle is based on mature acquisition processes that will help agencies get more value from their spending. All three of NITAAC’s government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) have been designated as BIC. In its March 20 memo, OMB directed agencies to begin setting annual goals for increasing the use of BIC contracts for common goods and services, while still meeting their small business and other socioeconomic goals. The memo makes the case that the BIC initiative already has delivered good results. “The BIC goal is a reflection of the many benefits that have been realized from increasing the visibility and use of model contracts solutions—including billions in cost avoidance aided by reduced contract duplication for identical products at wide price variations, increased use of common specifications and greater reliance on government and industry best practices,” the March 20 memo states. The value of BIC comes down to its focus on contract management as a discipline. In vetting contracts, OMB looks at whether the acquisition team consistently follows best practices and mature processes. For example, the first criteria for BIC is, “Rigorous requirements definitions and planning processes.” Among the questions OMB asks is, “How inclusive or collaborative is the process of collecting and capturing the requirements during the planning phase of the acquisition process? Are all the major stakeholders included?” Likewise, for the fourth criteria, “Category and Performance Management Practices,” OMB asks, “Does the vehicle include management provisions that go beyond traditional contract management, e.g., does it include ongoing assessment of demand and spend, alignment with market changes and trends, usage, performance, training, etc.?” The goal of BIC is to highlight 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 more that agencies rely on contracts with good track records, the more benefits that they will see. That includes higher volume discounts, reduced administrative costs and contract duplication, and the greater use of buying data to make informed decisions. That is why OMB is focused on what’s called Spend Under Management (SUM), which refers to the portion of an agency’s budget that is aligned with strong contract management practices. OMB and the Category Management Leadership Council have developed a SUM maturity model to help agencies analyze their spending: · Tier 0: Spending is unaligned with consistent management practices · Tier 1: Spending is managed at the agency-wide level, with strong contract management practices · Tier 2: Spending is managed at the government-wide level through multi-agency government-wide solutions with strong contract management practices · Tier 3: Spending is managed at the government-wide level using BIC solutions The March 20 memo is part of an effort to push more spending into the higher tiers, with BIC contracts recognized as the culmination of this effort. For agencies, the BIC initiative should not be another reporting requirement. In the end, it’s about making a good business decision—and reaping the benefits. The fact that all three NITAAC contracts—CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS—have received the BIC designation is a testament to the quality of our contract holders, contracting officers, customer service and overall team. Through these contracts, agencies have access to the latest IT services and products from a wide range of vendors, including a robust pool of small businesses. As always, we are committed to providing our customers with acquisition services that will support their efforts to bring more discipline to their IT spending and to meet their ever-evolving IT requirements.
  5. As Congress continues to deliberate on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), many small business contractors are wondering if the reforms started in 2018 will continue. The FY 2018 and 2019 NDAA both contained positive provisions for small businesses. From making it easier for small businesses to win follow-on contracts, to encouraging prompt payment of small business contractors, to increasing the amount of funding that can be authorized through the rapid prototyping program and specifically directing small businesses to apply, previous NDAAs greatly encouraged the viability of small business contracts and incentivized defense agencies to further utilize small business contracts. Regardless of the final direction of the NDAA, adopting a strong small business procurement posture makes continued sense for the DoD. NITAAC understands the importance of small businesses to defense contracting. America’s nearly 30 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They also provide critical goods, services and technologies which actively contribute to the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base. The NITAAC Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 3 Small Business Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (CIO-SP3 Small Business GWAC) is uniquely positioned to help the DoD accomplish its information technology missions. With 10 task areas covering virtually every defense agency need, CIO-SP3 Small Business contractors offer innovative solutions that are capable of meeting upcoming modernization and acquisition reform priorities, such as software licensing and cloud computing. Even better, CIO-SP3 Small Business customers benefit from built-in Fair Opportunity competition, no protests for awards under $25 million for the DOD and unparalleled customer support. CIO-SP3 Small Business makes vetting and competing small business awards easy. With a $20 billion contract ceiling spanning five socioeconomic categories, including Small Business (SB), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), 8(a), Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), there are no better options for the DoD when soliciting small business products and solutions and meeting small business goals.
  6. Is Setting up an IDIQ Right for Your Agency? In U.S. Federal government contracting, IDIQ is an abbreviation of the term indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity. This is a type of contract that provides for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services during a fixed period. IDIQs are also sometimes called "Task" or "Delivery Order” contracts. There are a few instances when establishing a unique agency IDIQ contract may be an appropriate business decision, especially in cases when recurring needs are anticipated. However, in most cases, an existing vehicle can fulfill an agencies’ needs. Before establishing a new agency-specific single or multiple award IDIQ vehicle, agencies should research existing vehicles and take into consideration the following: IDIQ Contracts Require a Time Investment Setting up an individual IDIQ contract can be both labor and time intensive. Using a Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), like NITAAC, gives agencies the flexibility of having their own contract without the hassle of setting it up. Leveraging an existing vehicle does not mean you lose ownership Many agencies set up IDIQs because they are concerned about losing ownership. With NITAAC, that is not the case. Agencies have control of their award from start to finish. Agencies write their own requirements, determine their own timeframe and, ultimately, select their own awardees, from our pool of our pre-qualified contract holders. NITAAC simply leverages our contracting expertise to help facilitate the process on the federal government’s behalf. Realize Cost Savings When an agency uses NITAAC, they benefit from improved pricing because our rates are pre-negotiated at the master contract level, which means they are already the lowest available rates. And, because our contracts are pre-competed, additional competition could further drive down costs at the task/delivery order level. Put simply, NITAAC allows for economies of scale in order to reduce per unit costs, which may not be possible on an individual agency contract. Reduce timeframes and no protests under $10 million ($25 million for the DoD) And since time is money, agencies can reduce their timeframes by using our GWACs. On average, task orders can be awarded in 45 days or less, and delivery orders in 1-3 days. And, there are no protests under $10 million ($25 million for the DoD) if the scope, dollar value and period of performance are within the bounds of the GWAC. Furthermore, agencies can also use GWACs to meet their small business goals under an exception to fair opportunity. And, NITAAC GWACs all carry the Best in Class designation. IDIQs are a powerful tool in the contracting officers’ toolbox IDIQs do have a role in federal procurement but for agencies looking to have a more streamlined procurement, or those that don’t have the time to invest in setting up their own IDIQ, NITAAC GWACs are an ideal option.
  7. I believe this has been asked before but, need some clarity on the issue: We have a task order against a GWAC to a large business Client would like us to direct some upcoming work to a specific small business subcontractor under a separate line item on the contract. I do not believe there is anything in the FAR that specifically prohibits this or is there? If we were to go that route, what would be the mechanism to get this accomplished? If prime does not agree to the work being directed to the specific sub, is there anything the Government can do?
  8. My office has a major acquisition for a cyber-security center with an estimated value of $25M/year for a 5-year period, $125M total, and we would like to place the order with a SB by January, 2013. We have had success utilizing the Alliant SB GWAC on past IT requirements, however, I am concerned with utilizing the Alliant SB this time around because of the potential loss of the Small Business credit in the out-years of the resulting task order. Right now, less than two years remain on the Alliant 5-year base period. According to FAR 52.219-28, re-representation is required after the end of the base period and, under Alliant SB, most of the small businesses will probably only be considered “Small” during the first year of performance on new task orders. After the first year of performance on our task order, they would be considered “Large” and we will lose our SB credit for potentially $100M of the $125M effort. In accordance with the Alliant SB manual, the following section addresses the FAR clause: “In accordance with FAR 52.219-28, Post-Award Small Business Program Re-representation, contractors shall re-represent their size status upon any change in ownership. In addition to change in ownership events, contractors are also required to re-represent their size status 60 to 120 days prior to the end of the fifth year of the basic contract. Should an Alliant SB prime contractor become other than a small business concern as a result of a merger or acquisition, with or without novation, it is a policy of the Small Business GWAC Center to remove the contract holder from the GWAC. Please refer to Appendix XII, Industry Partner Advisory for additional guidance regarding this policy”. With the new SBA re-certification process, how can I ensure that we obtain small business credit for the entire five year period, whether its using GSA Schedule or any GWAC? Due to the size of our order, the resulting small business who receives the award would become a large business within the first year of performance. According to the regulation, the re-representation requirement under FAR 52.219-28 would result in the selected contractor becoming a large business within the second year of performance under the Alliant task order. The Alliant CO basically agreed with my concern. Are there any good ideas out there for ensuring the small business credit for then entire effort? Thanks.
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