This column was originally published on Roger Waldron’s blog at The Coalition for Government Procurement, and was republished here with permission from the author.
On March 23, GSA issued a post on GSA Interact seeking “feedback on Cloud ConFIG’s (Cloud Contract Fostering Innovation in Government) Scope Statement.” GSA’s most recent post on market research is its latest communication regarding the possible creation of a separate cloud IDIQ GWAC, a draft RFP which is expected sometime in Fiscal 2016.
The proposed Cloud ConFIG GWAC represents GSA’s “next generation cloud vehicle” that would expand GSA’s current information technology (IT) contract portfolio. That portfolio already includes, or will include, cloud services:
The scope of each of these governmentwide IT vehicles includes comprehensive cloud services or a subset of cloud services. In light of the depth and breadth of cloud capabilities already offered through GSA vehicles, the proposed Cloud ConFIG GWAC prompts questions in some quarters, and among Coalition members, about contract duplication and the impact of that duplication on operational costs and market competition for government and industry.
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Creating a new government-wide IT contract vehicle can be resource-intensive; indeed, it takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. It will require significant government resources in conducting a business case review to receive an executive agent designation from OMB for the new IT GWAC for cloud.
In response to the Cloud ConFIG, industry also will spend significant time and tens of millions of dollars in administrative and bid and proposal costs in pursuit of that vehicle. Thus, before undertaking this effort, GSA may wish to consider studying alternative approaches to understand whether administrative and cost efficiencies might be available.
For instance, it could assess whether the Alliant 2 procurements and/or enhancing IT Schedule 70 might provide a cost-effective approach for GSA, customer agencies, and industry, especially in light of the fact that these two strategic contracting programs already include cloud services.
Such an assessment would enable GSA to know conclusively whether these current, multi-year, government-wide contract vehicles would provide savings in cost and administrative burden over a newly created contract vehicle, affording the agency the ability to reduce cost and other burdens in a time of budget austerity.
With regard to Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB, small, medium, and large IT business across the federal market have been gearing up for the impending competitions. Indeed, industry already has made significant investments/expenditures on the Alliant 2 program (e.g., pulling together and maintaining proposal teams, responding to RFIs and draft RFPs, and participating in public meetings/industry days) leading up to the targeted June release of the formal RFP.
Coalition members appreciate the open, Myth-Busters dialogue throughout the Alliant 2 planning process. This dialogue plays a vital role in ensuring that the Alliant 2 program meets customer needs while providing sound business opportunities. Thus, we anticipate that the flexible, innovative, and comprehensive scope of Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB will provide a sound and powerful contract vehicle for cloud services.
Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB’s flexibility means that GSA, customer agencies, and contractors have worked, and will continue to work, together to develop a tailored approach to cloud, thereby ensuring that cross-cutting, leading-edge cloud services are available to meet mission needs. Alliant 2 also provides an evolving scope and capability, meaning it will stay abreast of technical, security, and IT compliance requirements from all customer agencies, including DoD.
A year ago, GSA added Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 to IT Schedule 70. A May 2015 GSA blog post entitled, “Schedule 70 Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) the Cloud One-Stop Shop,” provides a powerful statement endorsing the new SIN and IT Schedule 70 as a cost effective, comprehensive tool to acquire commercial cloud services. As the blog observes, the cloud SIN provides a clear roadmap/structure for customer agency cloud needs, rather than distributing them across multiple SINs. The cloud SIN also allows customer agencies to create custom cloud BPAs easily and bring new technologies to contract. Moreover, with continuous open seasons, new contractors and cloud offerings can be added to SIN 132-40 at any time.
The Coalition for Government Procurement and its members share GSA’s fundamental belief in Alliant 2 and IT Schedule 70 as important channels available to GSA’s customers to meet their IT needs. Because those needs include the use of cloud services, the utility of those channels needs to be explored and understood completely in order to promote contracting efficiency and to reduce duplicative contracting. The Coalition and its members are pleased to offer GSA any assistance we can in this endeavor.