Strategic Sourcing is a Prime Focus

While SEWP V has the same intent to provide IT products and solutions for its NASA and government-wide customers, it won’t be doing so from the view of a simple drop-by-and-order shop. One goal is to position SEWP as a go-to contract for agency strategic sourcing needs.

That’s the result of a 2012 memo issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which required agencies to use strategic sourcing as a way to cut IT costs. In May 2014, the OMB asked the SEWP program office to head a government-wide effort to develop a strategic sourcing initiative to reduce the costs of IT commodities such as desktops and laptops.

NASA has been working, through the SEWP contract, with the General Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health to develop that program. They’re taking the technical specifications they eventually agreed on to industry, which each SEWP contract holder would then use to implement with the manufacturers with which they have partnered.

A formal program was launched as the Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for Desktops and Laptops. Those devices are now offered through SEWP, GSA’s Schedule 70, and the NIH’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center CIO-Commodities Solutions (NITACC CIO-CS) vehicles.

In 2012, the Department of Interior (DOI) made it mandatory for all enterprise IT hardware acquisitions to use strategic sourcing contracts. At the end of 2014, it further focused that policy to make SEWP the mandated contract for these strategic sourcing needs. SEWP V “is the best strategy and value” for meeting mission requirements, says the DOI.

Joanne Woytek, SEWP’s program manager, believes positioning SEWP as a strategic sourcing platform will be a good thing for agencies. It’s complementary to what SEWP is already doing. It’s providing tools agencies can use that support agency strategic sourcing needs. They can also track IT purchases individual agencies make and report those back to the agency chief information officer.

Along this line, in 2017 SEWP will add an interactive tool CIOs can use to track orders, she says. Another feature will help CIOs designate products that they have already looked at and cleared for use by their agencies. This gives procurement officials at those agencies an easy and automated way to tell if products they want to buy are already permitted or not.

Another goal is to extend and improve the way SEWP customers get feedback on their concerns. “Communication is a key aspect for SEWP, and we provided some new features in the Quote Request Tool to facilitate customer/industry, and will be adding a Q&A feature in the next fiscal year,” says Woytek. “We are in the process of adding a Q&A team (to the program office) to focus on all of the areas of the program.”

She also wants to maintain the one-on-one communication with government and industry customers, from which she believes she gets ideas for as many as three-quarters of the changes that are instituted with SEWP. To ensure the industry-government interaction SEWP has built up over the years—something that’s proven essential to its success—continues into SEWP V, Woytek says she’s set out to meet one-on-one with each of the contract holders.

As of mid-September 2016, she said she was halfway through that process. “We’ve both learned a lot,” she says, “and provided back a lot of information.” Her concerns have also led to more mundane changes, though important ones, such as the addition of a fail over system that can drastically reduce power outage concerns and other unforeseen circumstances.