U.S. Digital Service expands advice, education through new GSA portal

A new portal launches this week on the General Services Administration's Acquisition Gateway to help advise contracting people.

Agencies wanting to buy digital services will have a new place to go for information about how to do it correctly. A new portal called TechFAR Hub launches this week on the General Services Administration’s Acquisition Gateway. Administrator Denise Turner-Roth said information in the portal will come from the U.S. Digital Service team, a part of the White House.

Roth announced the TechFAR Hub while giving the keynote talk at the Sunday afternoon opening of the National Contract Management Association’s national conference in Orlando.

In an interview, Roth described the hub as a “central location for digital services acquisition…advice to contracting people.” She said digital services can mean any of a number of products and services, including software development.

U.S. Digital Service already houses an online TechFAR handbook. Users can link to it from the usds.gov site or from the acquisition gateway. The TechFAR Hub adds a community of practice open to anyone in the federal government. As of last evening, TechFAR Hub community link only led back to the acquisition gateway home page. Roth said the hub would be fully launched later this week.

Roth also said GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service will continue to roll out enhancements to the Multiple Award Schedule, generally using Schedule 70, housing IT vendors, as its test zone. She cited the launch of a new special item number (SIN), schedule for Sept. 30, as an example.

The cyber SIN will align the cybersecurity offerings of all Schedule 70 vendors — whether they are primarily cybersecurity companies or not. Roth said that will make it easier for contracting officers and others interested in cyber to find and compare industry offerings more easily.

Other schedule improvements Roth highlighted include the so-called Fastlane, designed to simplify the process of getting a Schedule 70 contracts for new technology companies without the requisite two years of sales experience normally required for admission.

The Fast Lane experiment started in April with eight companies. Roth said the roster has grown to 80. Some were already on Schedule 70, she said, but needed speedy amendments to accommodate new technology offerings.

The Startup Springboard is also for companies new to Schedule 70, but that have been established by people with experience in federal contracting.

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