GSA explores new cloud contract vehicle

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The General Services Administration is considering new methods for acquiring cloud computing services.

GSA’s Cloud Computing Services project management office released a request for information Feb. 11 seeking “alternative models and/or solutions for future cloud acquisition contracts and processes that would continue to add value to Government Agencies in procuring Cloud Services,” the document says.

As it stands, GSA offers several different cloud procurement options, like infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and email-as-a-service blanket purchase agreements. But the folks in the cloud project management office want to see if there’s room to improve on those current models.

“Cloud is one of those technologies that is ever evolving in standards, security, and capabilities,” Stan Kaczmarczyk, director of GSA’s cloud computing project management office, told FedScoop in an email. “GSA acknowledges this and has issued this latest RFI to gain a better understanding of how the cloud market has matured and how GSA can best provide continuity of service while allowing for product evolution.”

Since GSA released its first cloud IaaS blanket purchase agreement in 2010, Kaczmarczyk said, things have changed in the market, and so have agencies’ needs. And the market and agencies are will ultimately dictate what comes of this RFI.

“That is what makes this RFI so important,” he said. “We want feedback from customers and industry to determine if another vehicle is truly necessary, and if so, what is the best way to create the solution. We’re not going in with preconceived notions, we are going to let the data and feedback determine the outcome.”

In fact, that’s how GSA got started down this path. The project management office met with all current IaaS blanket purchase agreement holders, and unanimously they were in favor of some sort of new vehicle. That feedback is included on the RFI, targeting areas like the need for cloud professional services to include assessment, planning, migration and integration, and the need to introduce new technology over the life of a contract.

Though the end result of this solicitation will depend on the feedback GSA receives, Kaczmarczyk said, “the new vehicle would likely include continuing the existing value of a pre-completed cloud vehicle but would have enhancements such as cloud professional services, updated technology and flexibility.” The hope, he said, is it will keep “up with the fast paced evolution of the cloud industry” by using methodologies that “keep current and avoid obsolescence.”

GSA-cloud-PMO
The progression of cloud PMO offerings. (GSA)

This request comes after GSA began developing an IT Schedule 70 cloud special item number last fall. That SIN will ultimately define the different types of cloud (and what isn’t “cloud”) and help agencies better understand what they’re buying — yet another way GSA is assisting its customers in procuring cloud.

“While the Cloud SIN project will realign IT Schedule 70 cloud technology offerings to accurately reflect the current cloud computing market and satisfy customer needs, a follow on cloud acquisition vehicle will provide continuity of added value services that aid customer agencies who require a more guided approach to cloud acquisition,” Kaczmarczyk said. There’s also the possibility, he said, that feedback may call for a “broader solution including a comprehensive suite of cloud products and services.”

Responses to the RFI are due by March 13.

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Agencies, Cloud, General Services Administration (GSA), Government IT News, Procurement, Stan Kaczmarczyk, Tech
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