GSA just got $150 million, want your piece?

Congress recently passed several spending measures designed to support federal IT modernization and cybersecurity. The one measure, possibly most overlooked, is the $150 million assigned to the General Services Administration (GSA) under the Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF).

Many question how exactly the $150 million will be used. Recently, Dave Zyvenyach, director of the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS), explained, “funding multiple projects within TTS, the FCSF drives innovation in government through interagency projects that enhance and promote the public’s digital experience with government. This includes using technology to improve service delivery, transparency, security, and the efficiency of Federal operations, while also increasing public participation.”

GSA wants to make it easier for the government to deliver digital services to the public and for the public to interact with agencies online. Zyvenyach said, “near-term initiatives will be investments in addressing the pandemic and improving service delivery and security, while longer-term initiatives will improve security, enable mission delivery, and really transform the Federal Technology workforce and improve the government’s experience for the public.”

Bringing private industry innovation to the government is the goal. As a result, the government will see secure, sustainable services, improvements in mission delivery, and costs reduced.

Want a your piece of that pie? Give us a call.

 

COVID-19 actually helped small businesses do business

Due to the pandemic, the federal government has expanded remote network access to assist a dispersed workforce. This in turn has motivated reforms to the procurement system.

According to Roya Konzman, acting division director for solutions development at General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “suddenly there was a need for new hardware, software and network access security, so we advised our Small Business Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration on their procurement strategies. GSA empowered its contracting officers to expand its rated orders authority. These orders are issued in accordance with the defense priorities and allocation system, and rated orders applied to IT capabilities included teleworking and health care solutions such as VPN accounts, virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, laptops, and mobile devices, and also covered personal protective equipment such as medical products hand sanitizers and disposable gloves.” (GovernmentCIO Media & Research April 6, 2021)

A national emergency allows the use of rated order authority. It authorizes GSA to prioritize a solicitation on behalf of an agency to buy goods and services. If a contractor receives a rated order, the contractor must prioritize that order ahead of other orders in the queue. (ibid)

There were so many rated orders issued to large contractors that individual suppliers often had a hard time meeting demands within the allotted timeframe. The result was federal agencies looked to enlarge their contracting base to include specialized smaller and mid-sized contractors. (ibid)

Because smaller firms do not have the “red tape’ that larger firms have, they can often change directions quickly. This makes smaller firms extremely valuable during times of national crisis. (ibid)

The federal government invested in video conferencing software and remote connectivity during the pandemic. This affords vendors the opportunity to demonstrate their products to various procurement offices. Additionally, agencies can quickly evaluate a large range of potential contractors. Which helps potential contractors who might have otherwise been overshadowed by larger vendors with preexisting relationships. (ibid)

Do you have a specialized product that the federal government needs? Give us a call.

 

Updating Govt Cloud Security

Cloud vendors will soon see standardized security liability language in all government contracts. This is partly due to agencies’ migration to the cloud being sped up once the pandemic hit and increased teleworking, making the need for cybersecurity assurances essential. (Nextgov, May 20, 2020)

Thomas Santucci, the director of the Data Center and Cloud Optimization Infrastructure Program Management Office at GSA, recently elaborated on the subject, “I think there is a need to update our [service level agreements] with the cloud providers and we’re actively working on that within [the General Services Administration]…. OMB has just stood up a [program management office] to work on a cloud SLA template for the federal government to be attached to every contract.” (ibid)

When referring to the pandemic, Santucci said, “Users are now remote rather than in a central building or campus. Agencies that are doing well are mostly in the cloud with little or no impact. Remote users do not need a [virtual private network] to gain access to their emails or files, collaboration products have significantly reduced file duplicates, and bandwidth consumption is between the home internet connection and the cloud. It’s a great success story.” (ibid)

Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) believe moving to the cloud does not mean security is a “one and done” feature. There are many considerations that customers may be responsible for under contracts. Increased use of cloud services is not 100 percent secure.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California recently wrote to NIST Director Walter Copan, requesting NIST work to establish metrics to accompany their Cybersecurity Framework. The framework allows entities to implement security controls based on their needs. Matsui’s letter to Copan asked for ways to evaluate the security implications of those decisions. Matsui states, “with quantifiable measurement tools, cybersecurity strategies can be compared across industries and between entities. Metrics and measurements that facilitate comparisons and assess risk will be valuable for consumers, companies, and governments.” (ibid)

Wondering how your contract or upcoming proposal might be impacted by cloud migration and updated service level agreements? Give us a call.

Industry Looking to GSA for Guidance

Agencies are pressuring GSA to provide guidance for meeting deadlines to modernize telecommunications. The  pandemic has delayed many agency transitions, thus making those deadlines nearly impossible to meet. (FEDSCOOP, May 12, 2020)

COVID-19 slowed task order awards under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, the government’s $50 billion telecom and network modernization channel. In some cases where task orders have been awarded, agencies can’t provide contractors clear instructions. Many believe the task order award delays impede the move from Networx, Washington Interagency Telecommunications System 3, and local service area contracts.

Legacy contracts are set to expire in May 2023. The GAO expects 19 of the agencies who spend the most on EIS to be transitioned over by the legacy expiration date; however many will not meet the GSA’s more aggressive 30 September 2022 deadline. (ibid)

Allen Hill, executive director of telecom services in the Office of IT Category at GSA believes agencies will make GSA aware of the effects of the pandemic, and GSA will in turn work with agencies on a case by case basis. (ibid)

The Department of Defense has their own strategy. They are beginning to rely on the lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) source selection for EIS. DoD plans to report the methodology used to award contracts and task orders in June, once the Federal Procurement Data System modification is complete. Meanwhile, the Defense Information Systems Agency executed six EIS awards last month. Most EIS solicitations are “best value” yet agencies need to balance the overall cost of their transition with the time for implementation. (ibid)

Unfortunately, when agencies speed up transition, companies have less time to address task order requirements properly. This puts the risk on industry to provide the best value while accurately responding to agency requirements. Many task orders were written prior to the pandemic, therefore contractors are forced to address network issues while teleworking. The time it takes to address issues is naturally increased. (ibid)

“Agencies are encouraged to examine any gaps in their network infrastructures and ensure they make appropriate adjustments to their EIS task orders to provide needed capabilities. Modern IT demands modern infrastructure,” Hill stated. (ibid)

Have questions concerning a delayed task order or need one? Give us a call.

In the Navy (with Small Business)

The U.S. Navy, Office of Naval Research is offering $30 million in grants through 31 May to companies providing advanced technology. Through this effort, the Navy is funding its supply chain to ensure that their contractors can stay in business during the pandemic. An additional $250 million in small business awards is expected over the next 90 days. (FedScoop, April 28, 2020)

Awards are through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs, which get money to small businesses more quickly than traditional solicitations. The following technologies are of interest:

  • modernization and sustainment
  • digital logistics
  • deployable manufacturing
  • resilient communications (ibid)

James Geurts, the Navy’s lead acquisition official, said the department is monitoring its supply chain in real-time with new tools to maintain stability. Many worry that a faltering economy and the shelter in place regulation will affect the supply chain and the military’s readiness. Guerts says the Navy is closely watching its research and development for emerging technology so as to stay a step ahead. (ibid)

Other Navy research offices are also serving as “technology enablers.” The Naval Expeditions Agility Office is looking for ways to better connect warfighters to tech experts and small businesses. Here again, the goal is to bring advanced technology solutions to national security challenges while helping small businesses to continue working with the Navy. (ibid)

Are you a small business with advanced technologies the Navy can use? Give us a call.