IRS looks at outsourcing

IRS notice

In what could be one of the first major projects to use revised Circular A-76 guidelines, Internal Revenue Service officials plan to try outsourcing the management of the agency's desktop and computer networks.

The IRS released a notice on FedBizOpps June 2 outlining an A-76 competitive sourcing study for seat management services. The Office of Management and Budget's recently revised Circular A-76 outlines the process for competition between public- and private-sector entities to perform a government function.

Whether a federal organization or a vendor performs the pilot project, it will cover three IRS locations — Chicago, Detroit and Kansas City — and will involve hardware, software, help-desk and telecommunications support for more than 15,000 office and mobile employees. Should the project be successful, it would expand to the approximately 100,000 other seats at the remaining IRS locations, according to the notice.

An IRS official declined to comment on the decision to treat the pilot project as a competitive sourcing initiative rather than a standard solicitation, other than to say that the decision came after a six-month business case analysis.

The revised circular allows agencies to consider factors other than cost when making a decision, said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council. "Under the old A-76, [the competition] would have been highly problematic and would not have gotten them anywhere close to the kinds of solutions they need," he said. "We're talking about information technology requirements, and that's not something you buy on the cheap. You need to examine a number of factors, price being only one of them. Under the old A-76, at the end of the day, it was a low-bid process."

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