The General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service had a tumultuous run over the last 20 months. Over the course of its existence, TTS is on its third commissioner, has been brought under the Federal Acquisition Service and has seen an increasing amount of personnel turnover.
It looks as if 2018 will continue to be a volatile year for TTS.
Joanne Collins Smee, the deputy commissioner of FAS and the director of TTS, announced last week at an all-hands meeting that the organization will go through a reorganization focused on how to better serve the Trump administration’s IT modernization effort.
Sources who attended the meeting said Smee detailed an aggressive timeline to bring the centers of excellence effort and the 18F digital services organization closer together. The administration announced the CoE initiative in December as part of its IT modernization rollout.
GSA issued a requests for quotes across all five of the CoE areas —cloud adoption, IT infrastructure optimization, customer experience, service delivery and analytics and contact center — toward the end of 2017 to hire vendors to provide implementation planning services.
TTS’s new request for quotes went out to a limited number of vendors to provide “strategic planning consulting services to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an integrated TTS and CoE organization,” according to the RFQ, which a vendor source read to Federal News Radio.
The 12-page RFQ, released Jan. 29, is worth only about $150,000, so it falls under the Simplified Acquisition Threshold.
“It’s a really short turn around,” said one industry source, who is familiar with the RFQ. “They are trying to get ideas about how take all these resources in TTS and refocus them to deliver across these five areas of CoEs. The CoEs want to do the same things that have been going on for years. I think this goes back to TTS trying to staff the CoEs and no one volunteering to be on them so GSA asking now how do you staff these organizations?”
Under the solicitation, TTS wants a vendor to provide organizational design services, which includes hiring and implementation plans for bringing the CoE effort and 18F closer.
One source familiar with the RFQ doubted TTS can get all of this work under the RFQ done in four weeks or for $150,000.
Multiple emails to GSA seeking comment on the changes coming to TTS and a copy of the RFQ were not returned.
Sources say Smee is focused on the first CoE pilot at the Agriculture Department, and is seeking how best to take 18F resources and apply them to those challenges.
“Joanne said she wants to build up 18F, but likely it will be the technical expertise for the CoEs,” a source said. “It’s hard to say if they will bring in contractor or feds under term hires. Joanne made a comment about wanting to have 50 new technologists on board in the next few months. I’m not sure if she understands how government hiring. She also made comments about hiring business development folks. The reality is the federal process will hold up a lot of things that she wants to move forward on so she probably will end up staffing with contractors once she sees the challenges of hiring.”
TTS was under the governmentwide hiring freeze in the first part of 2017, and then it continued, even unofficially, until new leadership came on board for most of the rest of 2017. A source said many offices in TTS are behind in their hiring so there will be a big rush to fill open positions, which also could complicate Smee’s plans.
Sources also say GSA is expected to make the awards for Phase 1 of the CoE effort this week. The acquisition strategy detailed at the industry day in December said GSA would make awards by the end of January so they are delayed by about a week.
Sources also say GSA also named at least the initial lead managers of the CoEs:
Simchah Bogin will head up the customer experience center of excellence;
Jay Huie will lead the cloud adoption center;
Dan Pomeroy will be in charge of the IT infrastructure optimization effort;
Amira Boland and Phil Ashlock are co-leaders of the data services analytics;