Acquisition

GSA to expand Centers of Excellence

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The General Services Administration is looking expand the White House-backed Centers of Excellence program that is supplying IT modernization expertise to agencies.

Emily Murphy, GSA administrator, announced that the agency had posted a new solicitation for a Centers of Excellence contract vehicle that moves beyond the preliminary work at the Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development.

The new opportunity is a blanket purchase agreement to allow agencies to set up centers to advance modernization goals such as cloud adoption, data analytics, information security and more.

"We're already at USDA, which has been an incredibly successful partnership, and at HUD. We're looking to expand the agencies that we're working with," Murphy said at a March 12 acquisition conference hosted by ACT-IAC. "By using multiple-award contracts for each of the Centers of Excellence areas, we're going to be able to have a much quicker acquisition vehicle in place and be able to deliver out results for them far more easily."

GSA's request for quotations includes some key changes aimed at making it more efficient and effective based on industry feedback. The RFQ also has a "challenge question," aimed at testing contractors' technical capabilities under pressure, with responses due within 48 hours of posting.

The document also contains a "scenario question" that delves into how the centers operate and the contractors' ability to work in collaboration with other contractors in cross-functional teams. Questions about the RFQ are due March 19 and bids on April 1.

Vendors can only submit responses via the eBuy platform, although much of the solicitation is viewable on Github. Murphy said that she's looking to make changes to eBuy to widen its audience.

"We've decided that the RFQs put out on eBuy -- that there might be value in making those available to our industry partners who are not on schedule and aren't eligible," she said. "If it's successful, we'll expand it."

The agency also continuing to consolidate its two dozen buying schedules into a single schedule. Murphy said that a final round of modifications is set to take place in April, with the new schedule coming online in October. The moves are a part of GSA's wider effort to create a federal marketplace that is more accessible and innovative for federal agencies and federal contractors, she said.

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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