GWACs see steady spending season

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The end of the federal IT spending season has been hectic, but typical, at the big governmentwide acquisition contracts, according to the managers of the vehicles.

August and September were very busy according to Joanne Woytek, manager for NASA's Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) contract.  September, she said, saw 28% of agencies' annual spend with the GWAC.

That's pretty typical of past years, but the quarter also pushed SEWP V, which began service in 2015, past $20 billion in products and service purchases, Woytek said in a Sept 30 email to FCW.

The General Services Administration's GWACs also had a busy end of year, an agency spokesperson told FCW in a Sept. 30 email.

September, said the GSA spokesperson, generally sees the highest spending for the agency's GWAC programs. The agency won't complete its reporting for the end of fiscal year spending until mid-November, making comparisons to last year's activities incomplete without that reporting, the spokesperson said.

In general, the agency's GWACs continue to see "strong agency investment, likely growing year over year as agencies continue their IT modernization efforts," the spokesperson said, adding that overall agency spend through the GSA's IT GWACs, such as IT Schedule 70 and Alliant II, is up over 9%.

At the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center GWAC, a spokesperson said the agency wasn't able to provide quarterly results data to FCW.

With SEWP, Woytek said overall agency usage has been steadily increasing, year to year.  As usual, August and September have been when the vast amount of ordering occurs for the fiscal year, she said.

"We expect to end the fiscal year with at least a 20% increase in dollars from last fiscal year," she told FCW in an email on Sept. 30. Incorporating modifications to existing orders, she said total spend with SEWP could be $6.5 billion for the fiscal year. SEWP will issue more formal results by the end of the week, Woytek added.

SEWP processed about 36,000 new orders in fiscal 2010, according to Woytek. The average order size increased from $127,000 in fiscal 2018 to $132,000 this fiscal year. That increase was smaller than previous years. She attributed the smaller jump to an increase in agency credit card use driven by the increased micro-purchase ceiling from $3,500 to $10,000.

"I thought there would be a larger impact than we saw -- particularly in September," said Woytek of the shift of the micro-purchase threshold. "It may be something to watch next year as to whether people are still adjusting to having that higher level. I am also uncertain how many agencies have made the switch-over, as it is agency dependent."

SEWP orders were 70% for products and 30% for services. Orders, Woytek said, tended to concentrate on larger contractors, such Cisco, Oracle, HP, Dell, etc., with an eye to maintaining licenses and warranties, but also upgrading basic hardware for networking. Interest in telecommunications capabilities from Motorola and for cloud services from ServiceNow, Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon Web Services were also top of mind for buyers this year, she said.

A move by agencies towards software as a service/cloud usage pushed Salesforce and ServiceNow sales increases, according to Woytek. "They were both fairly small in usage in FY18 but have moved into the top echelon of SEWP usage in FY19."

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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