IT Procurement Made Simple
Published: May 20, 2015
According to Traci Walker, a founding member of the US Digital Service procurement team and a Contracting Officer for the Executive Office of the President (EOP), IT procurement can be simplified by using practices set forth in the TechFAR and Digital Services Playbook.
OFFP Administrator Anne Rung interviewed Walker as part of the “Behind the Buy” monthly podcast series for sharing and collaborating around innovative IT contracting strategies.
Walker explained how the Digital Service has used guidance from the TechFAR and Digital Services Playbook to make IT procurement less cumbersome for customers such as VA, SBA, and the Forest Service. She focused her talk on a recent multiple award BPA that the EOP established using GSA Schedule 70.
Walker’s office assisted EOP in establishing a contract vehicle that gives White House end-users a simple method to procure systems integration support on a regular basis for a specific technology platform.
The procurement strategy for establishing the BPA vehicle involved the following:
- No proprietary solutions
- Deploy requirements for all software development on an agile basis
- Use modular contracting
- Use service providers that were subject matter experts
Communication with all stakeholders was an important aspect of the process. Walker said they used an integrated project team and brought everyone to the table early on. The procurement approach was developed together as a team which included management, financial stakeholders, and end-users.
They collectively decided to buy a technology platform first, independent of integration services, then purchase services from experts on the platform. This is contrary to the typical method of procuring the platform and the services from the same vendor.
The team held an industry day early in the process to get feedback from vendors. Vendors liked the flexibility being built into the BPA and subsequent task orders. Contractors and end-users both liked that issuing task orders under the new vehicle would be simple and intuitive. Small and large contractors in the process, but ultimately several large contractors were awarded the BPAs.
Walker is now working with GSA to carry this type of multiple award BPA, to support a specific platform, government-wide.
Walker believes other agencies will follow suite with these types of procurements or take advantage of vehicles being put into place that allow modular contracting and agile development, once they see the successes and benefits. She advocates starting small. The major benefit to procuring through these new methods and vehicles is the speed at which IT solutions can be deployed. Lead time has been reduced to about a month rather than six months. Additionally, the procurement process to establish the vehicle is shorter and the process to issue and award task orders is easier and timelier than traditional contracting methods.