SEWP V to address supply chain issues

NASA headquarters

NASA headquarters, Washington, D.C.

The next iteration of NASA's Solutions for an Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) contract will include major reforms intended to curtail supply chain risks, a problem that is increasing due to greater use of digital systems.

Officials want disclosure from companies on where they are getting their products, Joanne Woytek, the contract's program manager, recently told FCW. The goal is to ensure that all the companies on the contract are authorized resellers for their products, she said. NASA released a draft request for proposal for the contract, entering its fifth generation, on March 4.

With that disclosure, NASA will provide customer agencies information that allows them to make a risk-based decision on their purchase, she said. The requirement aligns with the National Institute on Standards and Technology's work and recommendations on supply chain risks.

Name Change

The acronym SEWP originally stood for Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement. NASA changed it to Solutions for an Enterprise-Wide Procurement in 2007, because, "While the SEWP contracts are still centered on support for NASA's scientific and engineering missions, the complex IT product solutions available through the contracts extend to many other disciplines."

In dealing with supply chain management, NASA officials have been participating in numerous national and international efforts, including the Open Group's Trusted Technology Forum. The Open Group is an international vendor- and technology-neutral consortium. Its aim is building a more trusted chain of distinguished providers through a secure and sustainable global effort.

NASA and Defense Department procurement policy officials have been working together with the Open Group's forum, and NASA has included provisions in its draft RFP that are compatible with DOD's latest requirements for supply chain management, Woytek said.

Supply chain risks are not new, particularly to the military. Yet, the prevalence of digital systems brings new threats. It is the risk of electronic components that have been altered to digitally infiltrate U.S. defense systems.

"We're now worried [about] the integrity of the products coming into our global supply chain that might compromise businesses confidentiality or the overall availability of essential services," said Melissa Hathaway, former White House cybersecurity adviser and now president of Hathaway Global Solutions. Hathaway spoke Sept. 26, as part of a panel at the Potomac Institute in Washington.

In addition, officials have seen cases of chips with "built-in back doors" that could allow system access for espionage or data theft.

SEWP V is a 10-year, indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contract with delivery orders for IT and audio-visual products and services. SEWP is open to NASA and other government agencies, if a product or service meets their need.

Among other changes, officials are reducing the number of competition groups from 13 in SEWP IV to 5 in SEWP V. They expect it to reduce the cost to both industry and the government. SEWP V has a set-aside for small firms located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones. NASA also plans to fully track orders as well. Officials want to provide agencies with detailed information of their buying patterns primarily to assist with strategic sourcing.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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