AUSTIN, Texas — The second iteration of a once-defunct technology product catalog for the federal government was relaunched over the weekend, giving both agencies and tech companies an easier way to make deals on cloud-based services.
The new Apps.gov was unveiled Sunday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, resurrecting the directory that was shuttered in 2012 after causing more problems than solutions for agencies looking to streamline their cloud procurement efforts.
Built by members of the Presidential Innovation Fellows, Apps.gov gives agencies the chance to comb through over 100 products to determine if they could be purchased. Each product page includes information on security requirements, authority to operate and procurement options.
The majority of the current catalog is made up of cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon, Microsoft and IBM. However, there is also procurement information for cloud-based software services like internal collaboration tool Slack, open data software tool Socrata and visual project management tool Trello.
Andrew Stroup, one of the fellows responsible for building the site, told FedScoop the PIF program was approached by the General Services Administration to identify ways that tech companies, specifically those who sell cloud products, could be expedited into the government market. His team initially thought about ideas around an accelerator but decided that approach would be “putting lipstick on a pig.”
“We could have easily created a three-month program to include tech companies and help them maneuver through Schedule 70 and FedRAMP, but that wouldn’t have done any good other than some PR,” he said
Stroup said the idea with the new Apps.gov is to add a level of curation to the “double-sided marketplace” feds and tech companies deal with and better understand how each side works when it comes to procurement.
“The government builds a lot of double-sided marketplaces,” Stroup told FedScoop. “We have to be very careful about how we curate those. You can only curate those by having input from both sides and having it evolve over time.”
Currently in the alpha stage of development, Stroup envisions the project collecting enough data that it eventually gives tech companies the ability to tailor their offerings to exactly what agency CIOs and CISOs need. He told FedScoop the FedRAMP office is also working to tailor a message to providers on how to roll out capabilities before going through the arduous paperwork included with GSA’s cloud security program.
“It could lead to really cool things around how could the government could really buy things better,” Stroup said. “We’re only solving a small part of a hard problem.”
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