Information technology manufacturers and suppliers across the country are struggling with significant supply chain disruptions that are impacting their ability to meet customer and market demands. The supply-chain bottlenecks around the world have caused record shortages of many products that American consumers are used to having readily available, such as household goods, electronics and, most importantly to NITAAC, information technology.
As one of the biggest purchasers of IT, the federal government is not immune to these challenges. According to Bloomberg, for fiscal year 2022 the federal government has allocated $109.4 billion for unclassified and classified information technology. The budget includes $58.4 billion for civilian agencies and $38.6 billion for unclassified defense agencies. To date, supply chain disruptions have resulted in significant delays in fulfilling federal IT task orders across all government contracting vehicles.
Although we don’t have the answer to the supply chain challenges, NITAAC wants our federal partners to know we are actively working to find ways to make fulfilling IT task orders on our Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) as easy as possible. In December, we convened a special listening session with our contract holders. The purpose of the session was to hear firsthand the supply-chain challenges our contract holders were experiencing. Our intent is to develop a roadmap that will allow us to better understand roadblocks, set timelines, and manage expectations with our agency partners. Ultimately, we aim to be able to tell our agency partners how long an order will take so a fulfillment timeline can be addressed in their acquisition planning. Additionally, if supply chain disruptions persist, we are committed to meeting with our contract holders on a consistent basis to receive updates and other pertinent information that we will then use to inform our conversations.
According to a recent article from Forbes, there is “no end in sight for the COVID-led global supply chain disruption.” The article cited several factors that will require resolution, such as the high cost of shipping containers, lack of truck drivers and warehouse capacity issues. As our federal partners continue to navigate these challenges, NITAAC is here for you.
We understand the important role information technology plays in the federal government and are committed to understanding the bottlenecks resulting from the current supply chain challenges. We are resolved to coming up with practical solutions to help you procure the IT products and services you need.
I have said it before, and it now takes on brand new meaning: Customer service is at the heart of what we do at NITAAC. We are fully invested in making sure the lines of communication are open, that we are identifying issues upfront and are ensuring federal agencies can get the IT they need to achieve their agency missions in a reasonable amount of time. It is our promise to be transparent and to tackle the supply chain issues we are currently facing head on.
As we close out 2021, I wish you a healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.
Brian Goodger is acting director of the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center.