NASA starts stirring SEWP, despite uncertainty

NASA officials who constructed the Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP) III, the agency’s popular governmentwide acquisition contract, are planning for a SEWP IV contract, although its future is still not fully set.

NASA officials posted a Federal Register special notice Friday to announce one-on-one interviews with vendors that are active in the information technology arena. The notice states, "As part of the acquisition process for the follow-on to SEWP III, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will be conducting market research through one-on-one interviews with interested companies. The purpose of these interviews is to give industry an opportunity to provide the government with the latest information on current and up-coming IT products and trends."

NASA officials did not confirm the creation of a SEWP IV contract or say whether it would be a GWAC.

Today, Joanne Woytek, NASA's SEWP program manager, said the agency is "only in the market research stage of SEWP IV. The [request for proposals] and associated details are being developed. If after market research and other preliminary activities are completed, NASA proceeds with SEWP IV, then we would work with OMB to determine our status."

Officials will hold 48 interviews, each 45 minutes long, in July. Online registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, beginning June 28 at noon. No more than three representatives per vendor can attend the interviews.

The notice states that officials will respond to comments and questions submitted by e-mail before the interviews. Vendors should use the interview to showcase their company’s capabilities. NASA officials will only address e-mails sent at least 48 hours in advance of an interview.

Further opportunities for feedback and comments will be available as the follow-on process continues.

Uncertainty surrounds the future of SEWP and other GWACs. David Safavian, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, recently said that he plans to review every GWAC. His announcement followed a January report from the Government Accountability Office that put interagency contract management on GAO's high-risk list.

Industry officials, still unclear about what the notice means for contracts, say government officials have made a smart move by holding interviews.

"What I read into this is that this is a pre-pre-RFP," said Chuck Spence, GTSI's SEWP program manager. "This is certainly a precursor to it. The idea of holding interviews ... prior to the issuance of an RFP is an innovative and great idea."

Kevin Adams, CDW Government's vice president of program management, interpreted the notice as confirmation of a SEWP IV.

"It looks like NASA has removed the 'if,' " Adams said today. "In my opinion, I think NASA has the best run GWAC out there. This announcement tells me that OMB has figured that out and has given them the green light."

Adams added that market research is part of federal acquisition regulations.

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