NIH revamps acquisition center's image

Agency's IT acquisition center has shed its assisted-acquisition services and will instead focus on GWACs

The National Institutes of Health’s acquisition center is taking a new approach to contracting as it begins launching its latest governmentwide information technology contract.

NIH’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) has shed its assisted-acquisition services and will no longer offer agencies insight and expertise into contract and buying choices. Instead, it is in the initial stages of launching a 10-year, $20 billion Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 3 (CIO-SP3) governmentwide acquisition contract. Officials released a draft request for proposals Aug. 4.

“We had to make a decision about being an assisted-acquisition services shop and a GWAC,” said Rob Coen, deputy program manager at NITAAC. “We chose to be the best GWAC.”

"You’re going to see a different NITAAC in the future,” he added.

NIH hasn't promoted CIO-SP3 as much as some agencies promote their GWACs because it has gained enough business without additional marketing, he said. 

The latest CIO-SP3 contract will help agencies adopt health IT and match their IT systems to the Federal Health Architecture.

But experts say customers need acquisition expertise at all stages of the process, and agencies that offer GWACs, including NITAAC, will have to think hard about the value they can bring.

“Merely handling the paperwork isn't a differentiator in providing accessible GWACs," said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at FedSources.

About the Author

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

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