A top procurement official at the General Services Administration has posted a set of priorities on a GSA website that will guide the agency’s technology services arm as it plans out future procurement strategies.

Kevin Youel, acting assistant commissioner of GSA’s Integrated Technology Service (ITS), said that the principles emerged during a recent discussion with federal chief information and acquisition officers, along with agency deputies throughout the federal government.

The discussion, the agency’s second stakeholder roundtable, focused primarily on setting priorities for GSA’s next generation of network services portfolio and related procurement offerings.

“The discussion gave us guiding principles for the Network Services 2020 (NS2020) Strategy,” said Youel in a blog posted this week. But some of the principles “apply beyond IT, to any government acquisition,” he said.

Youel said GSA shared findings from GSA’s top-down review of previous and current telecommunications contracts, including FTS2001 and Networx, based on meetings with more than 100 stakeholders, and after reviewing market trends and other data analysis.

“Our past outreach shows that GSA needs to match portfolio structure to agency buying patterns,” he said. It also needs to be aligned as well as to industry market segments, he said.

While agencies “value the more than $700 million in savings achieved by Networx in FY12,” he said, GSA “must continue to achieve greater savings through strategic sourcing to keep us in line with the September 20 GAO report that concludes government should do more strategic sourcing.”

Youel summarized the top five principles that emerged from the discussions, which according to his blog post, called for:

1. Deeper government partnerships. Agencies want a spectrum of offerings ranging from complete solutions and managed services to commodity building blocks, with which to build their own solutions. They see value in GSA providing a portfolio of services based upon affinity clusters of services. Contract options brought to the table by other agencies also may be part of the mix.

2. Government and industry success. The more government makes our buys look like big corporate buys, the better we can tie into the market and existing industry capability. This means agency commitment, aggregated common requirements, and price visibility. There are benefits to aligning our portfolio with how industry works, and we need industry to weigh in and work with GSA to achieve this compatibility. Aligning offerings with industry practice and good industry partner communications will reduce transaction costs and benefit all. We discussed how to make incentives, instead of penalties, tied to contractor success, which could improve service to users and build upon the win-win.

3. Expand scope and delivery methods. We discussed the need and value of acquisition and operational efficiency. In developing this portfolio, GSA and agencies are looking broadly at how we aggregate requirements. A framework to weave related services and elements in an efficient way might include Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile applications, and other options. Some agencies are looking for turn-key solutions that offer hands-off management. Agencies are also looking for aggregated service and lower infrastructure costs through identifying common needs.

4. Continue commitment to innovation. We must continue to offer options to support continuous and convenient access to industry partner innovations. Looking at how we refresh technology and pricing could give us steady improvements with fewer heavy lifts. Many times, we can add innovation without developing new acquisitions.

5. Increase transition support and more. GSA can provide tailored customer support throughout the acquisition life cycle, including assistance with acquisition, fair opportunity, and transition processes. The systems and processes we have in place for consolidated and centralized billing have provided operational efficiencies. Enhancing these systems will further drive down government and industry operating costs.

“Our current program provides more than $1.8 billion of networking services to federal agencies,” he concluded. “We continue to enhance our existing portfolio as we plan for the future. An NS2020 Interagency Advisory Panel will guide the strategy work for NS2020 and bring the strategy to the Federal CIO Council, he said.

Keep reading →