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  1. 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.
  2. IT modernization still more important than ever to federal agencies According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Office of Management Budget’s (OMB) 2019 budget document, over 80 percent of all information technology (IT) spending is on the Operations and Maintenance of "aging legacy systems, which pose efficiency, cybersecurity, and mission risk issues, such as ever-rising costs to maintain them and an inability to meet current or expected mission requirements." That’s because the current push for modernization is not just about updating or replacing old technology. It’s about “creating the platform for change,” as the President’s Management Agenda describes it—that is, finding more cost-effective, innovative approaches to delivering IT services and improving services delivered to the citizen. As the pace of modernization accelerates, many agencies might find themselves struggling to keep up. Here at NITAAC, we get it. That’s why our contracting officers are so essential to our offerings. We have a team of FAC-C-DS Level-III certified contracting professionals who can guide customers through every step of the acquisition lifecycle. They understand how to leverage different contract vehicles, how to define IT requirements accurately and clearly, and how to translate those requirements into solutions that work. Using proven methods, they can get from requirements definition to award in as few as 30 days. It’s acquisition at the speed of innovation. But innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in the context of individual procurements, each reflecting the unique mission and goals of an agency. Whatever your modernization requirements, our GWACs can help. CIO-SP3 is a good choice for agencies looking to develop innovative solutions based on cutting-edge technology. The program includes 137 different labor categories (and more can be added at the task order level), and supports every contract type in the FAR. CIO-SP3 also has a small business companion contract, which helps agencies meet their small business goals for HUBZone, 8(a), Woman-Owned, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, and Small Business. CIO-CS, on the other hand, provides easy access to a wide range of commodity and commodity-based solutions that can be deployed either on premise or in the cloud. 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 contract includes both original equipment manufacturers and value-added resellers. CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS are all designed to simplify the acquisition process. You don’t need a special “Delegation of Procurement Authority” to issue task or delivery orders, nor do you need to synopsize or post requirements, since these programs fall under FAR 16.5. The streamlined process doesn’t require you to compromise on price. As part of the original contract awards, we negotiated competitive prices for products and services—and as part of task and delivery orders, you can negotiate even better rates and prices. The pricing for commodity products is lower than open market and less than or equal to what you can get through federal supply schedules. We can’t promise that modernization will be easy. But what we can promise is that the acquisition process can support your efforts, rather than frustrate them. We’re here to make that happen. For more information, visit https://nitaac.nih.gov or call us at 1.888.773.6542. You can also email NITAACsupport@nih.gov.
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