Acquisition

FAS looks to tech transformation

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The Federal Acquisition Service is closing in on deadlines for some important transformational technology efforts in the coming months, according to top officials.

At the end of March, FAS will send a report to Congress on the second phase of its e-commerce portal initiative, said Crystal Philcox, assistant commissioner, enterprise strategy management in FAS at the General Services Administration.

The report is an important milestone for the project as it will show GSA's direction for the effort and incorporate comments from industry on how the project might proceed. Officials have also said the agency plans a proof-of-concept pilot for the end of 2019.

Later in the spring or early summer, the agency will also have a firm view of how it will move ahead with a contract writing system for the agency that will help redefine other modernization efforts, Philcox said  at Feb. 26 discussion held by ACT-IAC.

The contract writing system is an important piece for modernizing other internal and external systems, according to Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner, office systems management at FAS. Zawatsky said the agency is focusing on the scope of the planned contract writing system, concentrating on the agency's common definitions for contracts and other basic data.

Since the system will set some standards for product pricing and data, as well as draw from other agency procurement systems, it can also push modernization efforts more widely in the agency.

The e-commerce portal is also an important piece of the agency's future, because it would set how GSA leverages commercial portals, making it easier and quicker for agency buyers to get what they need. The portal is not an easy lift for a number of logistical and regulatory reasons, however. GSA has to thread the needle of aligning federal purchasing practices and rules for commercial-off-the-shelf goods with commercially operated platforms for consumers that operate with substantially less restrictive practices.

Both the e-commerce portal and the contract writing system are part of the new customer-focused, internally meshed approach FAS is constructing for its policy, management and IT operations to better serve customers and contractors, Philox and Zawatsky said.

For instance, Philcox said the contract writing system might leverage a shared solution. It could also tap a unified catalog of products under development, Zawatsky added.

The technology FAS is using to modernize its operations, said Sagar Samant, associate CIO for acquisition IT services at the agency, has to be agile and lean to fit into plans. "Technology is based on leveraging cloud," he said.

Last November, GSA issued its CIO Modernization and Enterprise Transformation (COMET) request for information that focused on leveraging agile development and the cloud platform model to help transform business services at FAS.

Zawatsky, Philcox and Samant couldn't comment on the RFI and did not take questions on it during the ACT-IAC panel.

The RFI the agency rolled out in November aimed at a single architectural and programmatic service contract, as well as a multiple award, blanket purchase agreement contract for app maintenance, enhancement and transformation services.

COMET is a recompete of GSA'S CAMEO contract that supports the main IT environment at FAS, encompassing the GSA Global Supply, Multiple Award Schedules, Personal Property Management, Travel, Fleet, Purchase Card Services and Integrated Technology programs.

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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