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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. NITAAC Program Guide-at-a-Glance At NITAAC, we are not only fueling modernization across the government, we are 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 is proud to launch a refreshed experience that will change how agencies acquire new technology. NITAAC’s three easy-to-use, easy-to-understand, Best in Class GWACs – CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business, and CIO-CS – provide any agency, government-wide, with an easy and accessible method for acquiring more effective citizen service or mission delivery. We’ve done a lot recently to improve our customers’ user experience, choice of contracting approach and overall accessibility. So, what specifically has NITAAC changed? Reimagining Our Website Reimagining acquisition is about creating a positive user-centric customer experience from market research through closeout. With this in mind, we made it a foremost priority to directly improve user experience at the starting point of most people’s acquisition journey – the NITAAC website. Our newly refreshed website focuses on educating contracting officers, contract holders and small businesses that are not already on contract, by showing them how to best participate with NITAAC and get the most out of CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS. Upon visiting the reimagined NITAAC website, the first thing you will notice is the clean look and feel. We have designed our new website with you – the user – in mind so that you can find the resources you need to get your next IT procurement off the ground and moving. To this end, we have enhanced our search capabilities for tools, templates, events and contract holders. The refreshed website will include improved tools and templates, short instructional videos, and other “quick hits” on buying to allow contracting officers to see best practices for buying federal IT. Additionally, the website gives customers a step by step overview on everything IT procurement from issuing a Task/Delivery Order Request (TOR/DOR) to managing their procurement and selecting awardees on e-GOS, our secure online ordering system. And because the federal workforce is becoming increasingly mobile, we have incorporated all of these changes into a flexible and responsive design that is accessible from any device so that the information you need is always at your fingertips. Intuitive Buying Through NextGen e-GOS Even with a sleek new website, user experience is not going to improve without improving the actual procurement process. With this in mind, we have also focused a great deal of our efforts over the past year on improving the next generation of our online customer ordering portal, e-GOS. With new ease-of-access features that complement the changes made to our website, customers are now seamlessly transitioned from the research phase all the way through the final procurement. NextGen e-GOS contains built-in FAR guidance and walks the contracting officer through what is necessary to meet FAR Part 16 requirements. Leveraging FAR Part 16, the goal of NextGen e-GOS is to truly streamline the process; allowing federal customers to ensure that their requirement only goes to contract holders who are qualified to do the work. NextGen e-GOS also will offer several new enhancements. For starters, it is operational in the cloud and will feature a new data upload feature. NextGen e-GOS is more user friendly – and mimics the user experience contracting officers are used to when shopping in their private lives. Customers will now enjoy product pictures, and can compare items, build a cart, and other features designed to personalize the buying experience. NextGen e-GOS also supports Best in Class requirements and provides better data reporting for our agency customers to meet FITARA guidelines, such as line-by-line analysis, quantities ordered, and payment amounts. 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 federal government, in general. 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 service and spend. Agencies can meet all their 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 saving for our agency partners. Democratizing Expertise with Assisted Acquisitions If your agency would prefer even more detailed guidance throughout the acquisition process, our Assisted Acquisitions program is ready to pair you with an experienced 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 you throughout the entire procurement lifecycle. 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 technical review process (TRP) requests to add new commodities on the contract so that 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 than 24 hours, we ask them to call our Customer Support Center, so we can expedite the review. Internally, we have implemented a Salesforce CRM to ensure that we accurately, consistently and efficiently answer all customer and contract holder questions. And, we are constantly analyzing frequently asked questions to develop new training, templates, website resources, white papers, blogs, videos and other resources to support our customers and their IT missions. Want to learn more? To learn more about these, and all the ways NITAAC is reimagining acquisitions, be sure to follow us on our social media channels.
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