EPA offers rough timeline for new agile contracting vehicle

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The Environmental Protection Agency could start awarding vendors positions on its new technology purchasing system as soon as November, agency officials said.

Though, “obviously, that’s aggressive, and that is very likely to change,” cautioned EPA contracting officer Jessica White during her presentation to vendors Wednesday on the agency’s new agile blanket purchase agreement.

Around 280 people attended the industry day, where EPA officials went over some of the particulars of the agency’s five-year agile BPA, worth up to $200 million. Under the BPA, the agency plans to select a pre-approved pool of vendors who emphasize agile methodologies like building applications or systems bit by bit, using automated testing, and providing a transparent code repository.

Once the agile BPA is in place, the agency could select a vendor from that vetted pool if it needs work done in one of the vehicle’s five functional areas:

  • Mobile app development
  • Web app development
  • Commercial-off-the-shelf customization or upgrades
  • Data analysis and modeling
  • New system development

BPAs are meant to streamline the process agencies must undergo to fill “recurring needs,” according to the General Services Administration. 

How many awards the EPA will make in each category has yet to be determined, officials said. In the past, former EPA Chief Technology Officer Greg Godbout has said the agency planned to require potential agile BPA awardees to demonstrate a level of sustainability, though an agency spokesman said “none of our requirements have been finalized at this point.”

The agency hopes to release the draft solicitation next month, with a final solicitation coming out as early as September. The agency also said it plans to limit individual orders to $2 million and reserve the mobile app development category for small businesses. 

Across the federal government, agencies appear increasingly eager to pursue agile development. The EPA’s industry day comes just before the Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to hold its own event Friday for vendors wanting to learn more about its new Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland, or FLASH — another contract vehicle emphasizing modern approaches to developing technology.

And just last year, the GSA’s 18F tiger team launched a BPA that focused specifically on vendors using agile. Godbout helped set up that model while he served as 18F’s executive director before coming to the EPA.

The EPA is “trying to provide world-class, specialized services that free up the programs to do environmental protection,” he told FedScoop in February before he left the agency for the private sector. “And that’s how IT can help drive mission value.”

The industry day had so much interest that the agency had to break down the event into several smaller presentations. 

Vimla Sai, president of software development and sales company Saigill LCC, told FedScoop she drove down from Pennsylvania to attend one such session. The industry day helped give her a sense of what technologies the EPA was interested in using — and where her company might fit, she said.

“It was really useful,” she said of the event.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional information from the agency. 

Contact the reporter on this story via email Whitney.Wyckoff@fedscoop.com, or follow her on Twitter @whitneywyckoff. Sign up for all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning at 6:00 here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Agencies, App Development / APIs, Applications & Software, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tech
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