Contracting

Contractors like late date for NASA SEWP

SEWP V

Federal IT suppliers swamped with last-minute purchase orders from government agencies as the fiscal year ends are taking some solace in the timing of a new version of one of the largest government- wide acquisition contracts.

The final Request for Proposal (RFP) for NASA’s latest Solutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement (SEWP V) is set for release on or about Aug. 12. The date is the latest ever set for a release of a new iteration of NASA’s 20-year-old governmentwide acquisition contract, which offers a wide selection of computers, servers, peripherals, network equipment, storage devices, software and other IT products and related product solutions among many approved suppliers.

One of the reasons for the vendor bliss about the RFP’s August release date is because official responses from vendors who want to be a part of SEWP V will probably not be due until mid-October. September, the end of the fiscal year, is traditionally a bustling, hectic month for computer vendors under the current SEWP IV, as federal agencies rush to spend the last of their annual allocations.

“We breathed a sigh of relief” when the release date slipped to August, said Donna Norris, SEWP IV program manager at PCMG. SEWP V is a “must win” for her company, she said, as the GWAC is a go-to for quick IT acquisitions within the government, even with growing efforts to centralize government IT buying at GSA. “GSA can’t touch SEWP as far as speed and accuracy” for IT goods, she said.

The Aug. 12 release date isn’t set in stone, though. “Nothing is firm until the day it is released,” SEWP program manager Joanne Woytek said in an Aug. 8 email. She noted that no substantial issues have arisen, and SEWP V is making its way through final reviews and signatures.

SEWP V’s release date has slipped before. It was first slated for release in May, then June. The planned June release date, said Norris, would have forced vendors to deal with a quickening tempo of SEWP IV orders in August, as well as crafting a response to the SEWP V RFP at the same time.

SEWP isn’t a services contract, according to Woytek.  Agencies can use it to purchase services to install products and software, as long as the services do not exceed 10 percent of the overall contract price. Products that can be procured include servers, laptops and supercomputers; networking and telecommunications products; software -- including software-as-a-service; audio/visual products; teleconferencing gear; peripherals, such as printers; installation; site planning; and product training.

Like its predecessors, SEWP V is expected to be a fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity multi-award contract featuring high-end IT product solutions, computers and peripherals.

Some key areas in SEWP V to watch for, according to Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, are data collection by NASA from contractors to support agency buying decisions and supply-chain risk management. Waldron said the SEWP V RFP will include a clause aimed at mitigating supply-chain risk using language based on the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

“NASA SEWP historically been very successful in large part because it provides an efficient and effective contracting mechanism for government customers and contractors,” said Waldron. “This is especially true with regard to processing modifications to add new contractor technology quickly for customer agencies.  I anticipate NASA SEWP V will continue to build on this key value proposition for customer agencies and contractors.”

According to Woytek, SEWP V’s focal point initiatives include:

Tracking and reporting. SEWP V will have a robust item and order level tracking system that will allow full reporting to agencies and oversight organizations such as OMB.

Supply-chain risk management. Government customers will receive information about the provenance (such as how the item being purchased goes from the manufacturer to the end user) to help with the agency’s risk assessment. For instance, according to Woytek, buying direct from the manufacturer means the risk is much lower than buying from a source with unknown connections to the manufacturer. The RFP will also parallel similar DoD requirements in this arena, she said.

Strategic sourcing initiatives. At both the agency and broader government/OMB level, Woytek said, SEWP V is intended to help in strategic sourcing initiatives for IT. With item-level tracking, SEWP will have information available to track trends and provide information to CIOs and OMBs on where strategic sourcing may work and then report on its effects.

Performance rating.  SEWP V will enhance SEWP IV’s existing program performance system to ensure it provides customers with performance issue information.

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