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  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. 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.
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