SEWP V Targets Lower IT Costs Through Strategic Sourcing

Strategic sourcing is not a new issue in government IT procurement, but it’s been moved up the list of things to focus on by the Obama Administration, which has pushed it as a key to lowering IT costs for federal agencies. Prices are all over the place because of the multiple agency-specific contracts used to buy commodity IT, it believes, and making those purchases through just a few contracts will save a lot of money.

In 2012, then acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients sent a memo to agency heads that required every agency to name a lead official to oversee strategic sourcing. It required every member agency of the interagency Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC), which includes NASA, to “promote, to the maximum extent practicable, sound strategic sourcing practices within their agencies.”

Included in the memo was the recommendation that the SSLC identify at least five products or services for which new governmentwide acquisition vehicles or management approaches should be developed and made mandatory. In May 2014, the OMB put the SEWP program office at the head of an effort to establish a strategy that would use strategic sourcing to help reduce procurement costs of IT such as desktops and laptops throughout government.

The office is now working with the GSA and NIH to put together a desktop and laptop strategic sourcing product, according to Joanne Woytek, SEWP program manager. The three agencies will be able to take the technical specifications they agree on and then work with industry and other federal agencies to develop a suite of specifications that each contract holder will be able to implement through their own channels.

It gives everyone a chance to see how to do this, she said, and she’s hopeful some definitive result will come soon. Internally, she said, the agencies are getting to the point of making it available.

“We’ve had good collaboration,” she said. “I would say that all three of us are very, very close to implementing a laptop and desktop strategic solution for the government. After that we’ll see how things go.”

As for SEWP specifically, she thinks the program has set itself up well to help agencies do strategic sourcing, and has been talking to many of them about how to use the contract for that. They would have a lot of work to do for themselves if they wanted to use strategic sourcing for IT purchases, she said, but instead they can use NASA’s platform.

“We’re building out the same sort of technology that we’re developing for the OMB,” she said. “We think that will be a major part of SEWP V.”

Some agencies aren’t waiting. In 2012 the Department of the Interior implemented an enterprise IT acquisition policy that required the use of multiple strategic sourcing contracts. Two years later it made an assessment of that marketplace and determined it would be better to use a single strategic sourcing vehicle for all its IT hardware acquisitions.

At the end of last year, the DOI made it mandatory for all of its purchases of laptops, desktops, servers and other hardware to go through SEWP, initially through SEWP IV and, as that expired, through SEWP V.

NASA SEWP V “is the best strategy and value for meeting mission requirements,” the DOI said.