A GWAC for Today and Tomorrow
With its designation as a Best-in-Class (BIC) GWAC, CIO-CS should be set for a strong future. The contracting vehicle, however, continues to be a work in progress, and it has taken time for agency buyers to understand what the BIC designation means for them.
Technically, the BIC tag indicates that the CIO-CS contract meets rigorous management criteria – and is designed to save customers money. Overall, it’s pitched as a “Gold Star” draw for agency customers, says a CDW·G CIO-CS program manager.
The Office of Management and Budget says BIC contracts must satisfy five rigid requirements:
- Rigorous requirements definitions and planning processes
- Appropriate pricing strategies
- Data-driven strategies to change buying and consumption behavior (i.e., demand management)
- Category and performance management strategies
- Independently validated reviews
A BIC designation signals to the acquisition community that NIH IT Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) consistently demonstrates value, allowing agencies to save time and money while also speeding delivery. In addition, BIC contracts offer solutions and processes needed to meet the federal government’s ever-evolving IT requirements, says Bridget Gauer, director of NITAAC.
“Quite simply, it tells the federal community that agencies are getting the best in both service and spend,” she says. “We anticipate an increase in work because of the BIC designation as more and more agencies are requiring their work to be sourced from best-in-class vehicles.”
GSS and EPIC
Along with the BIC designation, CIO-CS has been selected as a Government-Wide Strategic Source (NITAAC-GSS) for laptops and desktops. A streamlined ordering process for CIO-CS customers makes it easy for them to order systems directly from the NITAAC website through a pre-competed offering. As long as the order total is under $25,000, agencies don’t have to post an RFQ.
“It’s basically one-stop, online shopping for users,” says Sheryl McCurnin, senior manager for federal programs at CDW·G.
The NITAAC GSS offering is very flexible, she says. There are set configurations, but customers can swap out different options if needed. It’s an option that’s used sporadically, she says, but the sales volume is significant.
Through CIO-CS, NITAAC also offers a strategic sourcing initiative called Agency Enterprise Portfolio IT Category (EPIC), which enables agencies to set up their own strategic source contracts against CIO-CS. NITAAC and participating agencies establish requirements for contracts, which are competed among the CIO-CS contract holders. Once the contract is set, agency contracting officers can issue solicitation and award orders directly against the agency EPIC.
Although it has taken time for customers to get accustomed to this way of purchasing, the advantages are becoming apparent to more users of CIO-CS, McCurnin says. The BIC GWAC, in particular, combines with category management to reduce contract duplication across government. Agency buyers are “highly encouraged” to go to BIC vehicles for their needs.
“For CIO-CS that means they are coming,” she says. “So we need to be ready.”