GSA’s 18F wants to bring more transparency to FedRAMP

The General Services Administration’s 18F released a draft request for quotations and a transparency policy for its development/operations IT contract, and the agency is looking for feedback.

Under the contract, 18F wants a vendor to build an online dashboard for the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).  18F wrote in the performance work statement, the dashboard will provide “greater visibility and up to date status for vendors going through the FedRAMP certification process.”

David Zvenyach, acquisition management director at 18F, announced the draft’s release March 14, during a Sunshine Week event at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington to highlight the importance of freedom of information and openness in government.

“It was totally an accident. We had our kickoff meeting last week and put out our first draft today,” Zvenyach said of the coincidental timing. “We’ve given it to industry and we expect some reactions over the next two weeks or so. We put a lot of effort into this first draft and we think that industry will like it. And if there are things they want to see improved, we’re open to hearing it.”

Zvenyach said he expects the final RFQ to go out in late March under the agile blanket purchase agreement run by 18F.

As for the transparency policy, the draft states:

“Vendors are advised that 18F will publish on a publicly available website documents associated with this requirement, including any requests for quotation (including amendments), question and answer exchanges with vendors (source-identifying information removed), and other relevant information that is not confidential/proprietary in nature or source selection sensitive information that would otherwise implicate procurement integrity concerns. Upon award, 18F will publish the total price of the selected proposal and certain non-source-identifying data (e.g., the number of bids, the mean price, median, and standard deviation of price). During the performance of this task order, 18F will similarly publish source code, data related to project management (e.g., user stories, milestones, and performance metrics), and top-line spending data.”

The draft RFQ includes a notice that bidders will be expected to go through two phases for the procurement process: a compliance check, and a review of both written technical quotations and oral presentations.

The oral presentations will last about an hour, and according to the draft, the bidder’s “written technical quotation and responses to questions asked during the oral presentations will be evaluated based on an assessment by the government technical evaluation team of their strengths, weaknesses and risks associated with the technical factors described above.”

“After each oral presentation, the evaluation team will assess the technical merits of their proposal and select the vendor that demonstrates, in GSA’s determination, the greatest understanding of the government’s requirements as described in the PWS, has the proper mix of technical expertise to satisfy the requirements, and does not exhibit weaknesses that would affect the vendor’s ability to satisfy the requirements,” the draft states. “Following the technical evaluations, price will be introduced and a best value decision will be made.”

The draft also requires that technical quotes be separate from price quotes “to facilitate an independent evaluation.”

A bidder must also include a detailed staffing plan that provides among other things a list of staff identified as key personnel, the breakdown of skill levels and labor categories for personnel, resumes and a description of any team arrangements if applicable.

“All proposed key personnel currently employed by the offeror or its teaming partners shall attend the [oral presentation] session,” the draft states. “The government is most interested in hearing from staff that will have a direct role in performing on the task.”

18F also is asking for summaries of two previous “front-end dashboards” for consideration as similar experience. Bidders are instructed to include links that include source code developed for the project and live links if available, otherwise screenshots can be provided.

The draft RFQ states “the projects should be recent and similar to the size and technical scope of this requirement:

  • Similar size is equal to or greater than four to five full time equivalent (FTE) staff having performed on a project with a period of performance of two months or more.
  • Similar technical scope is past experience with building usable, responsive, public dashboards to share public data, built within the past three years.

In June 2015, the agency released a request for proposals for a new BPA for vendors to provide agile or Dev/Ops IT services. Zvenyach said the hope for experimenting was to “try and if it fails, we want to fail fast.”

At the Sunshine Week event, Zvenyach said his agency’s approach to openness “is not that we have all the answers.”

“It’s fundamentally recognizing that we are learning from our partners within government and outside of the government,” he said. “Ultimately there are certain things that we cannot do and we should not do, but where we can and should, we’re trying to seize those opportunities, and we’re trying to look at things creatively and sort of hack the bureaucracy so to speak, to find ways to get success, to deliver greater results consistently, and when we’re able to do that, we can continue getting more credibility and more respect for it.”

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