Mobile device memo builds on category management foundation

The Office of Management and Budget issued a final memo banning most new contracts for mobile devices and services.

The Office of Management and Budget continues to build the policy foundation around category management.

The latest brick is the final memo banning most new contracts for mobile devices and services. The end goal, OMB says, is to reduce fragmentation and duplication of more than 1,200 mobile agreements and 200 unique services plans that costs the government about $1 billion annually.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the E-Government and IT Office have been busy since October issuing memos to try to change the way agencies buy laptops and desktops and enterprise software licenses. Along with these memos, the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration’s Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTS) governmentwide contract  is part of the category management effort. The $11.5 billion HCaTS is delayed because of 26 protests, but the Government Accountability Office is expected to decide these protests by Aug. 31.

This mobile devices and services memo has been in the works since January, with OFPP issuing a draft for public comment in March. The draft memo received 13 comments.

The final version has few changes.

“The policy released today joins the growing list of modern technology solutions aimed at streamlining and modernizing the federal acquisition space,” wrote Tony Scott, federal chief information officer, and Anne Rung, OFPP administrator, in a blog post. “It uses an enterprisewide model that leverages economies of scale and builds on already existing practices within the federal government to maximize efficiencies and realize greater savings. For instance, federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, have realized nearly $14 million in savings this year alone and seen prices drop by an average of 30 percent for mobile services by awarding new contracts for mobile devices and services through GSA’s governmentwide mobile strategic sourcing solution.”

Scott and Rung’s example of Energy’s success is the center piece of the memo.

First agencies must get their spending on mobile devices and services under control. OFPP and E-Gov want agencies to report on a quarterly basis to OMB their usage of mobile devices and services.

“OMB will then post all usage and pricing data to the Acquisition Gateway to assist other federal agencies during the market research and award phases of any mobile contract acquisition,” the memo stated. “The reports must, at a minimum, identify the purchased service (including quantity of minutes, data, and number of text messages), the total monthly cost, and the actual utilization of this service. If a covered agency’s existing contracts do not provide for usage reports, covered agencies shall modify these agreements, if in the best interest of the government, to receive this information at least quarterly, but no less than semiannually.”

The first report is due Nov. 30.

OMB says by understanding their usage, agencies can optimize service rate plans and opportunities to consolidate contracts.

To that end, civilian and Defense agencies must transition to use the governmentwide contracts run by GSA for civilian agencies—the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative Wireless–or those run by the Army, Navy or GSA for DoD agencies, to purchase these devices and services no later than September 2018.

OMB stated in the memo that agencies must “consolidate all of their minute and data requirements to one contract per carrier utilizing a governmentwide acquisition strategy, which may include more than one ordering solution.”

Agencies can submit a written justification to OMB and the Mobile Services Category Team (MSCT) to use something other than the governmentwide contracts.

In the meantime, agency CIOs must develop transition plans by Nov. 30 detailing how they will consolidate contracts and highlighting any contracts that they may not be able to consolidate.

OMB also kept in the suggestion for agencies on what types of devices they should purchase for their employees.

“Covered agencies should consider buying previous generation devices if functional requirements are met while reducing the total cost of ownership. In addition, covered agencies are encouraged to standardize device capabilities and features to the maximum extent possible,” the memo stated. “Within 120 days, the MSCT will publish guidance on the Acquisition Gateway on these and other best-in-class demand management practices.”

GSA also will act as the broker for buys under FSSI where agencies can benefit from lower prices by pooling minutes and data for all contract holders.

Additionally, the mobile services team will conduct a study to see if the broker model would work for small agencies.

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