GSA Seeking Greater Agility for IT Contracts

GSA wants to make it easier for agencies to buy agile

By Jack Moore  for    January 8, 2015

Federal agencies are increasingly looking for ways to shake up the often sluggish process of buying information technology.

And if the General Services Administration gets its way, agency buyers could soon be able to purchase services specifically from companies that specialize in quick-turnaround software deployments and other IT projects.

A Jan. 7 request for information from GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services and its in-house innovation hub,18F, queries IT vendors on their agile delivery capabilities. Agile delivery or development describes the breaking up of large IT projects into smaller pieces, which can more rapidly deliver functionality.

GSA plans to use the information from the RFI to come up with a new contracting vehicle that will eventually allow agencies to purchase software and services from agile-certified vendors.

The Obama administration created the 18F office last spring to help agencies rapidly overhaul their digital services in part through agile development. But the small office — it’s staffed by about 50 tech gurus — concedes it can’t build everything itself.

“The demand for 18F to build products for agencies has been explosive,” Chris Cairns, managing director of 18F Consulting, told Nextgov. “We need help from outside vendors who work like we do to meet this demand.”

Based on the work 18F has done, “we’ve seen a real need for some sort of contract vehicle through which agencies can gain access to a pool of vendors with agile delivery capabilities,” Cairns added.

The ultimate goal of the new agile-only options is to reduce the acquisition cycle — from solicitation to contract award — to fewer than four weeks and ensure delivery of a “minimum viable product” within three months.

That will help government keep pace with rapid shifts in technology, GSA says.

“Though technology cycles run in one- to three-year cycles, in today’s dynamic environment, software acquisition must be faster and more flexible,” a GSA blog post on the RFI stated.

What kinds of agile capabilities is GSA talking about?  Read more at:

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