NASA's governmentwide acquisition contract sees substantial increase in orders for fiscal 2020; COVID impact is unclear.
One of the federal government's largest multiple award contracting vehicles saw major gains over last year's results, but it's difficult to determine how much of the spending increase is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) finished fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, with more than $9 billion in orders from 90 agencies and federal entities, according to a SEWP statement issued Oct. 6. The total, according to SEWP, tops fiscal 2019 by almost 40%.
In fiscal 2019, SEWP said it had about $6.5 billion on 36,000 orders.
The governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) finished fiscal 2020 with nearly 47,000 orders, Joanne Woytek, SEWP's manager told FCW in an Oct. 1 email. She said with such volume, however, it was hard to determine the impact of the pandemic on agencies' buying activities.
"There is not much I can particularly point to concerning COVID," said Woytek about the disease's impact on end of year spending at SEWP.
There was pressure to get IT hardware and software to help with agencies' COVID response needs early in the pandemic in March, according to Woytek. The agency shortened order times to help process customer requests quickly, but the demand slowed as agencies got up to speed, she said.
"We certainly saw requests that are easily tied to cleaning and disinfecting, many of which we had to have the customer go elsewhere for masks, gloves, UV lamps, and the like," she said. There were other COVID-related orders that were in SEWP's scope, from cell phone cases with disinfectant functionality, to software and apps related to the IT response to COVID, according to Woytek.
"We had also noticed six months ago an uptick in orders for IT security software, web cameras, virtualization software, laptops and monitors and other technology related to telework," said Woytek. "However, with nearly 47,000 orders from over 1,300 sites and 25,000 customers, it is hard to categorize how much of the purchasing was COVID related," she said.
In response to the strong buying season, on Oct. 1 SEWP dropped its usage fee from 0.36% to 0.34%, said Woytek.
SEWP was able to start up a specialized customer service operation, an online portal for agency CIOs, as well as adding new customer liaison positions during the year, according to Woytek.
According to SEWP, the CIO portal provides a direct line to the GWAC for agency heads or their top technical teams to access usage data. The customer liaison teams, said Woytek, are direct contacts between SEWP and agencies. Currently NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Navy have SEWP customer liaisons, according to Woytek.
SEWP also brought on a three person "Customer Odyssey" team in January, just before the pandemic broke, according to Woytek. The team, she said, set a "strategic customer service research and development arm" for SEWP to provide data-backed acquisition information for agencies.
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