On May 9th, GSA issued a Request for Quotes (RFQ) under IT Schedule 70 seeking to establish multiple Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for cloud computing services. The cloud computing BPA is part of OMB’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Information Technology Management. This is a great opportunity for the IT industry and for Government. As Administrator Martha Johnson noted at the Coalition’s Partnership Dinner held during GSA Expo week, cloud computing can save the government millions and millions of dollars.

Rather than create a new set of contract vehicles addressing cloud computing requirements, GSA and OMB made a sound procurement and business decision to use the GSA schedule framework. GSA and OMB are to be commended. It demonstrates faith in the schedules program and its access to the commercial market place. It also shows that GSA and OMB, sensitive to issues of contract duplication, are looking to utilize pre-existing contracts first. Finally, the decision to use IT Schedule 70 recognizes the power and inherent flexibility of the GSA schedules program in meeting customer needs. They got it right! (No pun intended for those of you who appreciate the symbolism of those words from the last decade.)

The decision to use IT Schedule 70 also comes in the wake of GSA and OMB’s increasing overall use of GSA schedules to achieve the Administration’s procurement goals. In particular, the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) fundamentally relies on BPAs under the GSA schedules program. Although government and industry sometimes have very different views regarding key technical procurement approaches to FSSI, I think we all agree that the GSA schedule program is the right platform.

The strategy of utilizing the GSA schedule program provides a practical and powerful example for other agencies. As OMB has done, agencies should look to the GSA schedules first to see if their requirements can be met through the commercial products and services available on contract. My somewhat educated guess is that nine times out of ten, the schedules will meet the agencies needs or can be modified to do so rather than creating an entirely new contract vehicle.

During my short time in this job, I have heard time and time again from contractors that the contract duplication is a significant concern. Today contractors are driven to hold multiple contracts with various agencies for the same or similar services. This makes no sense. It only serves to increases the cost and complexity of doing business with the government. Contract duplication increases government costs as well—just like industry the government incurs “bid and proposal costs” and contract administration costs. As evidenced by the cloud computing RFQ, the GSA schedules can play a leading role in reducing costly contract duplication.