With government-wide IT modernization efforts taking shape in 2018, along with smaller agency programs like Army’s ACCENT, SBEAS from the Air Force, and EHR updates at the VA, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is now taking the initiative to begin planning its own IT modernization program. GAO recently published answers to some vendor questions for the planned effort, known as IT Transformation, Modernization and Operational Support Services (TMOSS), and is evaluating the acquisition strategies it will use to procure IT services for the next 5 years.
Releasing an RFI in December 2017, GAO put forth a clear set of goals and technical areas for the modernization effort, which will primarily be handled by the Information Systems and Technology Services (ISTS) office. However, GAO seems to be very open-minded in terms of what kinds of contractors and contracting vehicles could be used to accomplish these goals.
GAO has a wide footprint across the United States, with 33% of the workforce located at 11 Field Offices in the continental United States. In an even greater sign of the mobility needs of the department, 95% of GAO staff are issued with laptops and telework agreements. Because of this emphasis on having a de-centralized, “virtual workforce,” GAO expects server virtualization, cloud migration, and Software as a Service (SaaS) models to be key solutions to the agency’s mobilization needs. With associated support services grouped into areas including “Project Management,” “Customer Service,” and “Infrastructure, Security and Operations,” GAO appears to be looking for a holistic approach to modernization that will include contractor ownership of projects and infrastructure, ultimately leading to a “Contractor Owned/Contractor Operated (COCO) contract structure.”
While RFI responses were originally due on January 24th, GAO took the step to extend the RFI due date to February 2nd, and answer 56 vendor-submitted questions before responses were due. While GAO is still thinking very broadly about the contracting approach, it did reveal some important details to consider when planning for the future opportunity.
“Given the breadth of services to both maintain ongoing operations while modernizing,” GAO sees a multiple-award contract as an option moving forward. However, in light of the current Federal trend to minimize and consolidate the contracting footprint, GAO also explicitly mentioned using a GWAC as a contract vehicle for these new solutions.
GAO will continue evaluating responses after the window closes, and contractors could expect an industry day in the future as GAO narrows down their contracting expectations.
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