CIO-CS is one of three major GWACs under the NITAAC (NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center) umbrella. The Best in Class IDIQ GWAC, which focuses on IT commodities, just entered its second five-year period of performance. Keith Johnson, contracting officer for all NITAAC GWACs, explains what's special about CIO-CS.
How is CIO-CS different from other GWACs?
Johnson: First, it's important to understand that it's not a competition. NITAAC is a lot smaller in general, which allows us to be very flexible and nimble. For example, our goal is to respond to any inquiry within one hour. Customer service is not something we take for granted. As a contracting officer, I know how frustrating it is to see your acquisitions stall, so I stress to our team to make sure we are as responsive as possible so our customers can meet their IT mission-critical needs. As for flexibility, we guarantee that any request to add new products will be reviewed within 24 hours, but most TRPs (technical refresh program) are reviewed and approved to the CIO-CS Catalog within an hour of submission.
What advantages do agencies have by using CIO-CS?
Johnson: Because it was chosen as a Governmentwide Strategic Solutions (GSS) for laptops and desktops, agencies can quickly get these items with a few clicks. We have seen agencies taking advantage of that feature more over time. Another relatively new strategic sourcing initiative is Agency EPIC (Enterprise Portfolio IT Category), which allows agencies to set up their own strategic source contracts against CIO-CS. We have set it up so users can "see" the products, compare them, and order them all in a portal designed to be similar to those of large online retailers. It's relatively new, but we're seeing it grow in popularity quickly.
How can agencies get started with CIO-CS?
Johnson: They just go online and register, and then they can start using our Electronic Government Ordering System (e-GOS) for streamlined ordering. e-GOS allows agencies to quickly upload specifications, requirements and supporting documentation and select awardees. They can post it and contract-holders submit their quotes via the system so the contracting officer isn't getting bombarded with emails. Then the contracting officer does the evaluation and uploads the award to the system. The system records everything: dollar amount, contract access fee, etc. I’m pleased to announce that NITAAC e-GOS system was most recently ranked the “most liked system” among federal procurement systems.
Have you noticed any changes in customer requirements or NITAAC response during the pandemic?
Johnson: We've gotten a lot of questions from agencies about how to navigate the system and how quickly they can get to an award. And I’m pleased to say that our agency customers and our contract holders have not noticed a difference during this time. We continue to respond to inquiries at our customer support center within the hour in most cases. And we are anticipating a significant increase in usage as the fourth quarter approaches, perhaps in response to the pandemic.
CIO-CS By the Numbers
$765 million: The amount agencies spent on CIO-CS in FY2019 (Source: Deltek)
205%: The amount by which annual spending on CIO-CS has grown from FY 2016-FY2019 (Source: Bloomberg Government)
12,144: Number of orders through June 1, 2020 (Source: NITAAC)
$2.16 billion: Amount in sales since FY2015 (Source: NITAAC)
.35%: NIH Contract Access Fee (NCAF), capped at $70,000
$20 billion: Program Ceiling
2025: Year the current CIO-CS contract ends (April 30th)