Do we need new contracts for cloud?

At a recent AFCEA Bethesda breakfast, Scott Renda from the Office of Management and Budget told the assembled ears that OMB, the General Services Administration, the Homeland Security department and the Defense Department are working to create one, or possibly more, new contracts to make it easier for federal agencies to purchase cloud computing solutions.

Now, cloud computing is an essential tool for both government and the private sector, but do we really need a new set of contracts just for that?

Every time a new IT solution comes along, it seems that there is an almost irresistible urge to create a new contract program. People who’ve been in the federal IT community remember when reverse auctions were going to revolutionize federal IT buying. Before that, it was seat management. Federal agencies spent countless hours and funds to put together contracting projects for each effort. Contractors, too, incurred substantial costs – some eclipsing the $1 million per opportunity level – simply to prepare a bid for such contracts.

Where did that get us?  Not very far, as it turned out. First, it took years to just put the contracts in place, and then a bit longer for protests to be resolved and orders finally flow. That was just for seat management. Whatever money spent on reverse auction preparation bore even less fruit. By the time the contracts were ready, something new was already on the horizon. Much of the time and money expended was wasted as the evolution of IT moved faster than the contracting community.

Even the best of programs can take years to put together. Remember Alliant?  I once wrote a tongue-in-cheek article titled “Across Five Aprils” because, like the Civil War, that’s how long it took for GSA to get Alliant up and running. It was more than that before the first order was ever placed. Even though Alliant is successful today, the time and expense were huge.

Speaking of existing programs like Alliant, what is lacking in current contracts that make cloud solution acquisition so difficult that an entirely new contract program is required?  Agencies are buying cloud solutions every day via Alliant, the IT 70 Schedule, DHS Eagle, and other existing IT contracts. It is doubtful that federal agencies would be trumpeting their ability to move with agility to the cloud if current contracts were too cumbersome to use.

This is, indeed, a current issue in OMB itself. While one part of OMB is talking about new contract development, another understands that there are already too many IT-related MAC’s. Outgoing Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Dan Gordon rightfully issued a recent regulation requiring agencies to go through a business case process before they develop new MAC IT contracts. Gordon understands that most government needs can already be well met by the thousands of existing contract vehicles and that even the current number represents substantial redundancy. He also understands that creating and managing so many vehicles doesn’t come for free.

Government is not alone in the presumption that new solutions require new contracts. Everyone at the AFCEA breakfast more or less genuflected at the altar of new contract creation when  Renda spoke. There is an automatic assumption that “Yes, of course we need a new vehicle if OMB says we do.”  If I were the CEO of a government contracting company, I would have been pretty upset at my contract managers for at least not asking the question why my company needs to spend millions of scarce bid and proposal dollars for a new contract that does what some of our existing ones do already. I don’t know too many contractors that are looking for new ways to spend money in the midst of a very tight federal market.

Properly executed, government IT contracting is a game of chess. You win not by just looking at the very next move. You have to look ahead. So it is with cloud computing. It’s a good solution, but existing contracts meet the need well and the government has shown over and over again that by the time it gets a new contract program in place, the industry will be on to the next big thing. Who wants to buy cloud solutions when everyone else is in the ionosphere?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.