ITVMO Newsletter Q1 FY2024
The ITVMO is your trusted advisor and advocate for buying common IT smarter, and faster. We are your one-stop shop for acquisition intelligence. For upcoming events, see here.
Notes from the Office of the Director
As we bid farewell to the past year and welcome the opportunities that the new year brings, I wanted to take a moment to extend my thanks to all of you for your ongoing partnership and trust in the IT Vendor Management Office (ITVMO).
The governmentwide ITVMO is committed to being your trusted advisor and advocate for maximizing federal IT acquisitions and solutions across the marketplace. Through our in-house domain experts in strategy and policy, IT asset management, pricing, legal, contract management, and organizational change management we are providing a curated set of offerings to meet Federal IT buying needs.
The past year has been a testament to our collective resilience and adaptability in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of technology and your collaboration and feedback have been invaluable in shaping the strategies, services, and offerings that drive our shared success.
I am eager to embark on a new year as we enter year 4 of operations. Some major areas of focus for us will be
- Vendor Management: Negotiating greater value from OEM products and terms to gain greater efficiencies and better operability through best-in-class terms
- Vehicle Solutions: Amplifying IT Best-in-Class solution success to improve spend under management and increase market equity and compliance
- Community Experience: Unifying IT buyers, govwide programs, and industry partners to scale acquisition best-in-class resources and foster continuous, lasting federal acquisition system improvements
- Market Intelligence: Generating assessments to inform data-driven opportunities for best-in-class, supplier diversity, market capabilities, and potential innovations
I look forward to supporting you in your IT acquisition journey. Learn more about us at ITVMO.gsa.gov and contact us at ITVMO@gsa.gov.
Better Contracting Initiative
The Biden-Harris Administration recently has reinforced the Governmentwide Category Management Framework, with the launch of a new acquisition strategy focused on improving contracting -- the Better Contracting Initiative (BCI). The BCI strategy includes leveraging data across agencies to get lower prices and better terms, negotiating common enterprise-wide software licenses, saving money and avoiding waste by getting contract requirements right the first time, and getting better value from sole source and other high-risk contracts.
The ITVMO supports the BCI mission, working in tandem with the IT Category, part of the Federal Category Management Framework, to provide acquisition intelligence to support faster, smarter IT buying decisions. The ITVMO is doing this by building relationships with some of the government’s top original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and agency IT Buyers to standardize contract terms and conditions, mitigate risks, and improve overall data quality for greater use by agencies in their acquisition strategies.
In fiscal year 2022 the government spent $72B on IT, with more than 50% of that on software. Fiscal year 2023 is on target to be around the same. Federal agencies make significant investments when they enter into multi-year, enterprise contracts to acquire software made by top Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs. For the OEMs, these deals represent some of the largest revenue commitments of their entire year. The OEMs and their resellers invest substantial resources in maximizing the value of these contracts to the sellers, maintaining a clear advantage over government buyers who are often understaffed and uninformed as to what constitutes a “good deal.”
This has and continues to result in price variation, vendor lock, and inability to operate across agencies. Recognizing this information disadvantage, the ITVMO has launched several initiatives to make better use of data by sharing market research and buying best practices across agencies.
By providing this information, we’re helping agencies gain competence and confidence in their software contract investments. We’re also obtaining concessions with top OEMs to solve common purchasing challenges. To date, we’re 12 for 12 on concessions reached across 5 major OEMs. And, we’re working with federal policymakers and select OEMs to develop best-in-class terms to reduce price variances across the marketplace. This could result in a 2 to 5 percent cost avoidance governmentwide, that’s between $30 to $75 million!
By working with agency buyers, we’re gaining valuable insights from their contract data to offer lessons learned for future investments and a more modern data-driven acquisition environment.
Check out our our OEM guides in our Resources Section. Agencies interested in participating in our next OEM Assessment - launching in Quarter 3 - should contact us at (ITVMO@gsa.gov)
Category Management is the practice of pre-negotiating contract terms through solutions like Best-in-Class, or BIC, vehicles. The IT BICs are contract solutions that provide the best value to the government. The purpose of category management is to drive a fundamental shift from managing purchases and prices individually across thousands of procurement units to managing entire categories of common spend and total cost. The Information Technology Category has been identified as one of the 10 common categories of spend across the federal government.
One of the measuring tools to determine a BIC designation is Spend Under Management (SUM). Increasing SUM will decrease costs, contract duplication, and inefficiency leading to better buying outcomes. The BIC designation is assigned by the Office of Management and Budget as a preferred governmentwide solution that:
Allows acquisition experts to take advantage of pre-vetted, governmentwide contract solutions; Supports a government-wide migration to solutions that are mature and market-proven; and
Assists in the optimization of spend, within the government-wide category management framework; and Increases the transactional data available for agency level and government-wide analysis of buying behavior.
The ITVMO in collaboration with the Governmentwide IT Category is creating a more diverse and resilient Federal IT Marketplace through these BICs. This past quarter, all thirteen of the IT BIC Vehicle Solutions, managed by GSA, NASA, NIH, and DOD were redesignated as Best in Class (BIC) for FY24! There are a total of 38 solutions (that is right, IT makes up close to 40% of all BIC solutions) available governmentwide to boost spend under management (SUM), increase small business utilization, and ensure sustainable, secure solutions are implemented.
Customer agencies can expect competitive pricing, well-managed administrative support, and credit for SUM when using a BIC vehicle. Additionally, this year, BICs will provide cost avoidance figures broken down by agencies, which will allow agencies to quantify the value of BIC solutions while supporting Administrative priorities including Cyber, Climate, and Equity. By increasing the utilization of BIC solutions across the Federal IT Marketplace, agencies ensure their acquisitions support governing policies and mandates.
The IT Category through the ITVMO will sustain the Core Workstation Category Team (Core-WCT) led by NASA SEWP. This team prepares and publishes the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for desktops and laptops annually. This year we will be on GSS version 10. For nine years, customers have had multiple system offerings available for purchase for each GSS category that meet or exceed the minimum specs that have been pre-screened and include value-added features and options. Terms and Conditions updated to drive value for the customer, including extended warranties and warehousing options, EPEAT Gold, Energy Star, Section 508, TAA Conformance, and delivery not to exceed 45 days. This year, the Core WCT will strive to increase awareness and visibility of the GSS Program throughout the year by holding quarterly WCT meetings so that agencies may offer their end-user computing devices requirements and review progress throughout the year. Research is underway to identify industry and government trends and requirements to determine if current GSS system categories need revision or additions, (e.g. Ruggedized systems). GSS v.10 will continue to make improvements in the shared GSS participating template to encourage more Industry participation
The ITVMO as part of the larger Category Management Framework is also actively working with the Federal Acquisition Programs at GSA, NASA, NIH, and DoD to ensure vehicles maintain designation status and that a new wave of buying practices are continuously assessed and introduced to the Federal IT Marketplace. NASA SEWP published the draft RFP in October. SEWP VI is expected to be awarded by May 2025. NITAAC has extended the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business GWACs through 4/29/2024. This ensures there is no break of service during the award of CIO-SP4 and continued coverage for NITAAC agency partners who use our contracting vehicles. GSA Polaris GSA issued a Question & Response #8 of the Polaris Small Business Pool in November. Polaris will be a small business governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) for acquiring customized information technology (IT) services and IT services-based solutions. For the latest updates on the pending new IT governmentwide acquisition contract vehicle check our updates page here.
Safe and Secure Use of AI
On Oct 30, 2023 the Biden-Harris Administration issued an Executive Order on the “Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.” The E.O. advances the safe, responsible, and ethical use of AI by federal agencies while safeguarding consumers and proactively mitigating potential risks through established regulatory powers. In short, the E.O. charges over 50 federal organizations with more than 100 distinct actions across eight main principles -
- Safety and security
- Innovation, collaboration, and competition
- American worker support
- Consideration of AI bias and civil rights and Equity
- Consumer protection
- Privacy and civil liberties
- Federal AI use
- International leadership in AI development
The E.O. emphasizes the need to regulate high-risk AI and acknowledges the intricate relationship between AI and privacy. It pledges federal backing for the advancement and adoption of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) while mandating agencies to assess their utilization of commercially available data containing personally identifiable information, including data sourced from data brokers.
While a substantial portion of the Executive Order centers on developing standards and guidelines, it also includes several concrete steps assigned to agencies. The ITVMO is working with agencies to understand and disseminate this information as it develops.
Key directives include Mandating NIST to establish pre-deployment red-team testing standards for AI foundation models. This work is expected to build on the previous NIST’s current AI Risk Management framework. NIST recently issued Guidelines for Evaluating Differential Privacy Guarantees and has an open call RFI to gather information to support its response to the Executive Order on AI. To keep abreast and engage further visit the NIST AI Engagement page.
The E.O. also places significant emphasis on expeditiously hiring AI professionals (set to be completed within 60 days of Oct. 30) and providing AI training for existing employees. OPM’s December 29th memo grants direct hire authority where appropriate, and considers the use of excepted service appointments to support the administration’s AI actions.
It requires agencies to devise more efficient procurement processes for AI and conduct further studies on enhancing AI utilization within the federal government. Keep an eye on The Procurement Information Lab (PIL) a DHS framework aimed at experimenting with innovative acquisition techniques across the DHS enterprise, and the ITVMO for upcoming guidance on procurement and acquisition.
In addition to addressing the above concerns, the order recognizes ethical concerns and the potential for civil rights infringements linked with AI and automated decision-making and instructs the Attorney General to take measures to mitigate algorithmic bias and other civil rights violations stemming from AI usage. The Responsible AI Toolkit builds on DoD Responsible AI guidelines.
The E.O. also specifically highlights the harm AI could cause to small businesses and includes actions to address risks such as preventing dominant firms from disadvantaging competitors and working to provide new opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Administrator of the Small Business Administration will be required to conduct outreach and raise awareness of, opportunities for small businesses to use capital-access programs eligible for AI-related purposes. The SBA has already scheduled an upcoming event on How to use Artificial Intelligence in your Business: A Step-by-Step Guide. The ITVMO is cohosting a small business event on February 29, 2024, called, Empowering Small Business: A Matchmaking Event. Register here.
While the primary focus of these initiatives is on federal agencies, their effects will inevitably extend to private sector businesses as they try to recruit AI professionals, participate in federal contracts, and navigate nondiscrimination regulations. Companies contracting with the federal government will be subject to regulation and monitor evolving standards and guidelines, such as watermarking standards by the Department of Commerce, AI risk assessment efforts by the Department of Energy, and the requirement for developers of specific AI systems to disclose information to the government about model training and share outcomes of red-team safety assessments.
The ITVMO in collaboration with industry and government has put together a comprehensive program of resources, including a series of informational videos on recent EOs and Memos (coming soon), and dedicated panels at the ITVMO Annual Summit in April (pre-register here) which will bring together leadership to discuss the technology, people, and process side of operationalizing and implementing various aspects of the E.O.
The Biden administration has released a proposed rule as part of its Federal Sustainability Plan, aimed at revising the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to establish new requirements for “sustainable procurement” in federal contracting, encouraging federal government buyers to prioritize sustainable products and services.
OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy and CEQ’s Office of the Chief Federal Sustainability Officer has requested the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) EPP (Environmentally Preferable Purchasing) Team, and the sustainability representatives working with the Category Management teams to review the appropriate contract documents for each BIC (Best in Class) contract against the sustainability clauses as outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
The Information Technology Category was assigned a point of contact from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct the assessment of contract solutions for all 13 IT Best-In-Class vehicles. The Sustainability Check was based on a match between the types of products and/or services sold via these BICs and FAR sustainability requirements that apply to these product/service types in connection with the IT spend category.
For 2023, the EPA assessment qualified IT BIC solutions as “Sustainability Check” with additional ongoing efforts to maintain compliance for government-wide usage. Register for the upcoming IT Buyers CoP meeting to learn more about BIC Vehicles
Meet the ITVMO Team: Introducing: Brittany Chapman
Ms. Brittany Chapman is the IT Best In Class (BIC) Manager, overseeing comprehensive category-wide support for all IT vehicles. Proficient in BIC criteria, data standards, and cost-saving strategies, she translates high-level directives from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Category Management Program Management Office (CM PMO) to facilitate the BIC designation process. Her primary focus is ensuring continuity for existing IT BICs to meet or exceed necessary designation requirements. Furthermore, Ms. Chapman manages the tracking of IT BIC transactional Data; oversees the BIC Designation process; serves as liaison to the CM PMO; and plans and supports IT Category events. Brittany serves as the primary point of contact for coordination on behalf of the IT Government-wide Category to obtain the necessary data to analyze reports and develop recommendations to support enterprise strategic business decisions.
She also serves as the advisor on data standards set by the CM PMO and guides the IT BIC owners and other vehicles on preparing and submitting data reports and additional fields for analysis, incorporating them into guidance and reporting requirements as appropriate. Ms Chapman led the IT Category’s Sustainability check and established a collaborative relationship with EPA to begin the research and analysis to determine a sustainability compliance baseline for each of the 13 IT BICs. As such, she facilitated the process for IT Best-In-Class solutions to be designated as “Sustainability Check” by complying with EPA and OMB’s sustainability and FAR requirements.
In addition, Brittany provides support with activities alongside the Information Technology Vendor Management Office (ITVMO) as they relate to research, analysis, assessments, and execution of initiatives. Brittany played an integral role in supporting the IT Government-wide Category and ITVMO to ensure the Administration’s goal of advancing small business equity in federal procurement (OMB Memos M-22-03 and M-23-01) as well as making strides in increasing small business utilization.
Beyond her professional capacity, Ms. Chapman boasts a distinguished 14-year tenure as a Combat Army Veteran, serving honorably as a Combat Medic and Combat Medical Logistician during Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Transitioning into federal service after an honorable discharge, she began her federal career at the Department of Defense and subsequently held impactful roles within the GSA's Innovation Division. She was awarded a Special Act Award for her instrumental role in the development of “America’s Federal Workforce A Value Proposition for Digital Talent - a Public/Private Joint Initiative” white paper which directly contributed to President Biden’s National Security Memorandum dated February 4th, 2021, titled “Revitalizing America’s Foreign.” In her free time, Ms Chapman is an avid reader and world traveler, with close to 50 countries already under her belt.
For more on the ITVMO visit ITVMO.gsa.gov or email us at ITVMO@gsa.gov and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.