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Found 11 results

  1. Thank you for your patience while awaiting the extension of CIO-SP3. We value you as our customer and want to make sure your IT mission objectives can be awarded better – faster – cheaper with our suite of IT contracting vehicles. It is no secret that the award of the CIO-SP4 GWAC has been delayed for some time. The reality is the predicament around CIO-SP4 is nothing new. In recent years, several GWACs, as well as agency specific multiple award contracts, have faced similar challenges with lingering protests, and some of those solicitations have been canceled altogether. This is the reality of federal contracting. But, here is the good news. I have full faith in the integrity of our solicitation and believe that we are nearing the end of the CIO-SP4 award process. I am pleased to announce that earlier this week, NITAAC received an extension for the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business GWACs through October 29, 2024, with the option to extend even further until April 29, 2025, should that become necessary. The timing of this extension could not be better. As we approach the end of the fiscal year, this latest extension will allow for no disruption of service during the busiest time of year. I encourage you to continue to submit your task orders with confidence, knowing that any task or delivery order placed by October 29 can go out 5 years in period of performance. As you make your acquisition plans and begin to think of your end of the year IT needs, choose NITAAC. For over 25 years, we have provided quality acquisition support to virtually every agency, department, and program in the federal government and despite the status of CIO-SP4, that commitment has not changed. We are still your one stop shop for everything IT. We are still the GWAC to call no matter how large or complex your IT needs may be. We are still the GWAC to rely on when you need your task order fulfilled quickly. From laptops and desktops to operations and maintenance of legacy systems to complex, emerging technologies like Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, we are the GWAC to call when your agency wants to excel. If you have questions or concerns about CIO-SP4 and what it might mean for your acquisition, call me. I am open to having the conversation and will be quick to assure you that it has no impact. What’s more, I will personally talk with you about your IT needs. Our three GWACs, CIO-CS, CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business have everything you need to get IT done, from a pool of highly qualified contractors to robust labor categories, multiple task areas and a multitude of socioeconomic categories to help you meet your goals. NITAAC is open for business and ready to help you keep your mission critical IT needs on track. Nobody does IT or customer service like we do. To learn more about all the ways NITAAC can help you exceed your IT goals, contact our customer support team at NITAACsupport@nih.gov or give me a call.
  2. Joint Proposal Calls for Amendment of the FAR to Support Environmental Concerns. A joint proposal requesting to amend the current Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to focus on the environment and sustainability and to implement a requirement for agencies to procure sustainable products and services to the maximum extent practicable was issued on August 3, 2023, by the Defense Department (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This proposal is on the heels of the Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability Executive Order (EO 14057). In this EO, President Biden challenged agencies to meet the following targets: Achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030, including 50 percent on a 24/7 basis. Reach 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisition by 2035, including 100 percent light-duty acquisitions by 2027. Achieve net-zero building emissions by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction by 2032. Reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent from 2008 levels by 2030. Establish targets to reduce energy and potable water use intensity by 2030. Reduce procurement emissions to net-zero by 2050. Have climate resilient infrastructure and operations. Develop a climate- and sustainability-focused workforce. Advance environmental justice and equity-focused operations. Accelerate progress through domestic and international partnerships. More importantly to NITAAC, the EO also directs agencies to purchase sustainable products and services in accordance with relevant statutory requirements, and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase sustainable products and services identified or recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At NITAAC, protecting our environment is at the forefront of our procurement strategy. In fact, our environmental best practices have been lauded for four consecutive years by the Global Electronics Council, which owns and manages the EPEAT Purchaser Awards. The awards recognize excellence in sustainable procurement of EPEAT-registered products. NITAAC is one of a few Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) to receive this global award and has been recognized for excellence in multiple categories, including computers, displays and servers. Environmentally Responsible Spending NITAAC takes considerable pride in doing our part to ensure the federal government has access to sustainable products. As agencies look to purchasing commodities, such as laptops and desktops, NITAAC can help. We are committed to providing EPEAT certified laptops, desktops, printers, monitors and servers to meet every federal agencies’ information technology (IT) needs. With almost 4000 EPEAT certified products to choose from, the ordering process is as easy as the click of a button. To start your order, download a copy of the NextGen GSS Ordering Guide here, then click the log in to e-GOS button in the upper right hand corner of any NITAAC web page. NITAAC not only offers the standard configurations of the GSS program, we also can handle more complex requirements through our CIO-CS Government-Wide Acquisition Contract for IT Commodities/Solutions. NITAAC offers training in use of our GWACs and is happy to provide customized training for any federal office or organization. Together, we can achieve the President’s vision for a more sustainable future. We strongly believe it is not only our job to provide a first-class acquisition experience but to also do our part to create a healthier planet. To learn more about how NITAAC can help you meet your end of year laptop and desktop buying needs, and meet the President’s directive in EO 14057, visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/services/government-wide-strategic-solutions.
  3. There is an adage that simply says, “Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.” This adage is quite apt for the Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) solicitation. In our ongoing quest to bring to market the best Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), we’ve, unfortunately, had to wait on the hand of time. Although waiting has admittedly caused me both frustration and impatience, it has not stopped NITAAC from continuing to provide any federal agency, government-wide, with an easy, cost-effective and accessible method for acquiring information technology for citizen services or mission delivery. If there is no other takeaway from this month’s Director’s Corner, please understand that we are open for business and both the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business GWACs are available, and will continue to be available, for agency use. Both GWACs have been extended through April 29, 2024, to ensure there is no gap in contractual coverage between CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP4. The extension allows our customers to continue to acquire mission-critical information technology on our fast and cost-effective GWACs through the remainder of the fiscal year. Rest assured, we are ready and capable of fulfilling all your task and delivery orders to ensure all your mission-critical information technology (IT) needs are met. NITAAC was developed specifically by the government for the sole purpose of speeding up IT acquisition for the government. I am grateful we have provided acquisition support to virtually every federal agency, department and program in the federal government since we launched over 25 years ago as part of the Clinger-Cohen Act. No matter how large or how complex your IT challenges may be, you can count on NITAAC contractors 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 (AI), NITAAC contractors are ready to help federal agencies excel. As we head into the end of the fiscal year and approach buying season, NITAAC is here to help you. Our three GWACs, CIO-CS, CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business have everything you need to get IT done, from a pool of highly qualified contractors to robust labor categories, multiple task areas and a multitude of socioeconomic categories to help you meet your goals. NITAAC is your one-stop shop for all things IT. The perfection of CIO-SP4 has not changed the one fundamental value every NITAAC team member upholds and that is our commitment to customer service. Customer service is not something we take for granted. We've geared our operations around your needs, so whether you are just beginning a solicitation and need help with research, or you’ve already placed a task or delivery order on one of our vehicles, NITAAC is committed to making sure you get answers faster, so you can keep your acquisitions and mission critical IT needs on tracks. This commitment to service is something we will continue through the close out of CIO-SP3 and the introduction of CIO-SP4. I invite you to experience our customer service firsthand. To obtain a complimentary, Technical Assessment of your Statements of Work, Statement of Objectives and Performance Work Statements, or to simply learn more about all the ways NITAAC can help you exceed your IT goals, contact our customer support team at NITAACsupport@nih.gov.
  4. According to Bloomberg, information technology (IT) continues to be a large source of federal market growth, accounting for more than $76.4 billion dollars. Most of these dollars are typically spent through commodities, solutions, and services purchased from a myriad of companies operating within the United States. But, with so many vendors competing for federal dollars, how can government agencies ensure fair opportunity in government contracting? Before we answer this question, let’s first examine what fair opportunity is and why it is important. What is fair opportunity? The concept of fair opportunity is mandated by Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 16.505(b). It is intended to level the playing field so that agencies cannot give an unfair advantage to one contractor over another. Fair opportunity is a mandatory requirement and is applicable to all federal agencies purchasing IT products and services when using a multiple-award contract. According to the (FAR) 16.505(b), fair opportunity must be exercised when a purchase exceeds the $10,000 micro-purchase threshold. When this happens, an agency must give every company that holds that contract an equal opportunity to respond to a request for proposal (RFP). Why is fair opportunity important? Encouraging competition has a myriad of benefits. Competitive contracting often results in lower overall costs for the government as contractors are more likely to submit more competitive bids to win the business. This results in lower direct public service costs and reduced internal costs. Additionally, competition opens the door for everyone to participate in contracting. According to a recent survey by Zippia, 70.6 percent of most government contractors are white. In 2021, only two percent of federal contracts were awarded to minority-owned firms. Although fair opportunity does not guarantee equity, it does ensure that every qualified offeror receives consideration. In fact, last year, the Biden administration set a goal of increasing the share of federal contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses to 15 percent by 2023, a 50 percent increase from recent spending levels. This lofty goal has left many agencies wondering how they can achieve this goal. NITAAC can help. Ensuring fair opportunity in federal contracting Let’s face it. Most agencies do not have the time or manpower to sort through multiple contracts to ensure every eligible offeror is included. As a result, the federal government still struggles with ensuring parity in contracting. According to a January 2023 FedScoop article, the world’s largest software companies, received at least 25% to 30% of government sales over the last 10 years through less than fully competitive procurement processes. NITAAC has the solution for this problem. NITAAC has designed an electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) to ensure that 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. NITAAC’s commitment to fair opportunity does not stop there. Leveling the playing field NITAAC is committed to leveling the playing field for all contractors. In FY22, seven of the top ten performing CIO-SP3 Small Business contract holders were Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB), 8(a) or Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone). NITAAC boasts one of the highest numbers of socioeconomic categories compared to most other GWACs. Agencies can award opportunities in a number of categories, including: 8(a) – 131 Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) - 22 Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) - 53 Small Business (SB) - 311 Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) – 21 Agencies looking to get fair opportunity done right, need to look no further than NITAAC. The three NITAAC GWACs, CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS are multiple award IDIQ contracts for IT that can be used by any federal agency. Our Electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) takes the guess work out of fair opportunity and ensures that fair opportunity is carried out correctly on every order. To learn more, visit https://nitaac.nih.gov/resources/e-gos.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. Is there a time limit for the duration of a follow-on task order under a GSA schedule contract for information technology (IT) services and supplies under FAR Subpart 8.4?
  8. I'm a Contracting Officer tasked with soliciting for a construction project that involves a brand name specification under the CICA waiver authority under FAR 6.302-1 Only One Responsible Source. The item is a major component of the construction project, but the value of the item is expected NOT to exceed $700k (the total construction project will be much larger). My read of the regs has always been that a 6.302-1 CICA waiver justification must include evidence that a notice of intent was posted to the GPE and interested sources responding to that notice were considered in accordance with FAR 6.302-1(d)(2), FAR 5.201, and FAR 5.207. HOWEVER, we are planning to solicit the project as a task order RFP under a multiple award IDC, and so the question was raised, does CICA and FAR Part 6 even apply? FAR 5.202(a)(6) provides an exception to the FAR 5.201 synopsis requirement for IDC orders and refers to FAR 16.505(a)(4). FAR 16.505(a)(4) states that items peculiar to one manufacturer must be justified in accordance with FAR 16.505( b)(2) (aka Fair Opportunity Exception). BOTTOM LINE: I've nearly concluded that FAR Subpart 16.5 may be the applicable regulation and not FAR Subpart 6.3, and so a FAR 16.505(b )(2) Fair Opportunity Exception would be required instead of a FAR 6.303 Justification. But I have a nagging suspicion that that's not quite right. My hesitations with a FAR 16.505(b )(2) Fair Opportunity Exception are that #1 I can't quite see how this is would restrict competition among the IDC contractors, so I can't really see how the concept of "fair opportunity" is at play. And, #2 I'm surprised to find that there is no requirement at FAR 16.505( b)(2) to post a notice of intent to the GPE--since in our situation for a brand name component, it seems to me that would be compelling information to include in the justification if we get no acceptable response from industry. And I'm also surprised because FAR 16.505 ( b)(2)(d) DOES require that the final approved Fair Opportunity Exception be posted to the GPE within 14 days (for orders >SAT). Whereas under FAR Subpart 6.3, for brand name justifications, all that is required is to attach the final approved J&A with the solicitation. I suppose that's because Fair Opportunity Exceptions under 16.505( b)(2) would never be publicized if only distributed with the solicitation because the solicitation isn't made public--it's only sent the multiple IDC contractors. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Appreciate the feedback.
  9. Three multiple award IDIQs were awarded a few years ago to procure systems for testing and possible deployment if it passed testing requirements. The agency intended to compete among the multiple awardees to determine which systems to deploy. It turns out only one awardee passed testing, so the agency closed out the contracts with the awardees who had products that did not pass testing. Given there is only one contract to order supplies and services, is this contract still considered a multiple award contract? I'm trying to determine if I need to execute a justification to procure using exception to fair opportunity or not when placing an order under the IDIQ with the awardee who did pass testing. It's been recommended I complete one just in case, but I'm not convinced it's necessary since there are no other awardees to give fair opportunity to. Appreciate your thoughts and insight in advance.
  10. Hi, We have a multiple award IDIQ that we will be preparing a solicitation under (someone told me these arent called RFTOPs anymore, is this true?). Our technical team would like the prime to partner with a certain specific organization as a sub. This organization would likely be eligible for sole sourcing according to the the FAR or our assistance guidelines if we were contracting with them directly. I suggested we do that, but the technical team feels that the management burden of dealing with this sub would be too much for their office to handle. I just wanted to get some opinions on whether this is possible or if there is a specific way to structure this that would make it feasible. Instinctually, I feel that this violates the Fair Opportunity procedures and the rules of competition. The only thing in the FAR that was remotely on point that I could find was FAR 44.203 (B )(3) does not allow any subcontracts that obligate the CO to deal directly with the contractor. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
  11. Would love some input here from any knowledgeable folks about this. If an agency intends to issue a single solicitation for multiple A-E services IDIQ contracts, is that a "multiple award" as defined under FAR 16.505 and does the fair opportunity process apply at the task order level? FAR 16.5 exempts AE IDC's from the statutory multiple award preference, I get that. And the Brooks A-E Act as implemented by FAR 36.6 applies, i get that too. But by logic, if one solicitation results in multiple IDC's it seems that's a "multiple award" situation. And as for Fair Opportunity, I'd think the most appropriate COA would be to articulate in the synopsis how the agency will provide fair opportunity at the task order level by selecting the best A-E for each particulat task order SOW (using competency/qualifications criteria not price). In my experience this issue is consistently something that is discussed inconclusively, since, to me at least, the FAR is a bit convoluted on the topic. The DFARS used to have instruction under citation 216.505-70 (it was ¶(a)(4) I believe) that specificially exempted A-E contracts from fair opportunity under the IDIQ ordering process--however sometime in 2012 or 2013 that content was removed. The USACE's Architect-Engineering Contracting Guide (EP 715-1-7), which was updated in 2012 states at page 4-9 that the Contracting Officer must document the file as to why a particular contractor is selected. Although that's not policy that applies to any non-USACE contracting agencies, they are considered to be one of the premiere A-E contracting agencies across the federal Government. The EP also provides a standard synopsis template (appendix O) that states verbatim, "If multiple IDCs, state method to be used to allocate task orders among contracts when two or more IDCs contain the same or similar scopes of work such that a particular task order might be awarded under more than one IDC. See FAR 16.505 for guidance." Anyone have any experience with this issue?
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