By the end of this month, the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) 18F will release a request for quote (RFQ) for a new blanket purchasing agreement (BPA) for vendors specializing in agile Information Technology (IT) delivery services. The new agile BPA will fall under IT Schedule 70, special-item number for professional services SIN 132-51.
The RFQ will cover the first part of a two-phase BPA aimed at improving how government develops and acquires technology. The alpha version of the BPA will be awarded to 15 to 20 vendors in April or May 2015. The awarded contractors will work exclusively with 18F to assist in providing agile IT services to other agencies.
The beta phase, on the other hand, will be open to vendors with the intention of offering agile software development services governmentwide. The RFQ for the beta version will be released in September, with awards by the end of this year.
Before announcing their intention to release an RFQ, 18F distributed a request for information (RFI) asking vendors with agile delivery capabilities to describe in 500 words or less how they would improve FedBizOps (FBO) the website utilized as the primary point for publicizing government opportunities. The request gathered data on agile delivery capabilities like user-centered design, agile architecture, agile software development, test-driven development, APIE-first design, and DevOps.
What is Agile?
Justin Grevich of 18 F says “Agile is just the scientific method applied to software development.”
An agile BPA is in alignment with the Obama administration’s plan to create full-scale digital-service teams within each federal agency in an effort to change the way the government handles IT projects. GSA’s 18F, launched less than a year ago, stands at the forefront of this plan and strives to develop more effective, user-centric, and innovative digital services to support interactions between government agencies and the public.
Agile operations uphold this goal by allowing agency IT projects to keep up with the volatile and quickly changing nature of digital development. 18F believes that utilizing agile processes will allow agencies to decrease software acquisition cycles to less than 4 weeks from solicitation to contract and expedite product delivery to three months or less.
For example, agencies that broke up large IT projects into smaller, more manageable pieces (a staple of agile development) have been able to deliver functionality an average of 21 days faster since May 2013.
Vendors that choose to compete for either phase of the agile BPA will also take part in a tech challenge in which they will produce a software prototype over the course of 24 hours for GSA’s evaluation.
Contractors interested in participating in the alpha BPA can prepare by reviewing the Digital Services Playbook. The playbook provides a guide for handling digital services within the government, and reflects the methods that will be used to evaluate competitors for the 24 hour challenge.
Though companies that win an alpha BPA will have the competitive advantage once the BPA’s beta version is rolled out, there is no guarantee that they will be awarded a contract in the second phase. Businesses will have to recompete for work, and periodic vendor on-ramping and off-ramping will occur throughout the life of the BPA based on performance metrics.
More information:Download the Powerpoint Slides from February 3, 2015 – Industry day.
Ramiro is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and as a Senior Consultant with Coley GCS, LLC, a Government Contracts Consulting, Coaching and Training company. Ramiro has over 10 years’ experience helping companies succeed with their GSA schedules.