Acquisition

GSA hopes Salesforce BPA leads to other targeted efforts

Shutterstock image: cloud network.

The General Services Administration's five-year, $503 million Salesforce Implementation, Integration and Support Services blanket purchase agreement was put together by agencies looking for a better way to buy the workhorse customer relationship management platform. But federal IT leaders hope the deal will be the first of many to support governmentwide software platform acquisitions.

The BPA, which was awarded in December 2015, consolidates the government's Salesforce technical development, operations and maintenance, and implementation strategy requirements into one procurement vehicle, officials said during a Jan. 20 call with reporters. It is designed to align with new rules under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act and with GSA's own strategic sourcing efforts.

GSA CIO David Shive said agencies that use Salesforce were the impetus behind the BPA. The platform was seeing heavy but fragmented use at many agencies, but inexperienced vendors and the lack of quality standards sometimes yielded "dubious results," he added.

In December, GSA named six companies to work under the BPA, and the agency issued the Salesforce ordering guide on Jan. 20, which shows agencies how to use the BPA.

Mark Naggar, IT vendor management specialist at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the BPA adhered to rigorous evaluation standards developed by the U.S. Digital Service and the HHS CIO, which required vendors to demonstrate their ability to deliver specific Salesforce expertise using agile methodology.

The agile methodology and targeted evaluation processes were meant to be reused for other software acquisitions to reduce duplication and increase efficiencies.

According to Naggar and Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services, GSA conferred with agencies that have been using the platform and is still consolidating their experiences at its GSA Labs to help other agencies. The BPA eliminates a multitude of inefficiencies that have arisen as agencies find their own ways to get Salesforce, such as one-off contracts, and it marks the way forward for other efforts.

Davie declined to name specific areas where the approach would be used again but said she's working with the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department to develop a list of candidates.

When asked if GSA had considered including other management platform vendors in the BPA, such as SAP or Microsoft, Davie said similar BPAs could be drawn up depending on agency interest and the potential for saving money or creating common efficiencies.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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