Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too.

The shift from on-premises infrastructure to enterprise-class cloud services is gaining momentum.  Costs are being avoided and saved, which, in a commercial entity, would mean they can be shifted from capital asset modernization and maintenance to other pressing needs, like to accelerating new application development for mission customers.

But for federal agencies who have outsourced IT operations and maintenance it isn’t that simple. Those cost reductions could turn into budget reductions.  Unspent funds on an O&M contract are not typically readily repurposed to new requirements.   How can you have your cake and eat it, too?  How can you save funding in O&M and spend it in new development, without incurring another long contracting action?

The answer is to set up your ITSS contract as a Flexible Ordering Agreement.  The NITAAC — NIH’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center — Program Office introduced the FOA concept to allow customers to establish contracts that function in a similar fashion to GSA BPA’s or an IDIQ.  The FOA allows customers to compete and award a CIO-SP3 task order (https://nitaac.nih.gov/nitaac/faq/CIO-SP3) , and then issue at any time additional tasking (within the scope of the original award).  For example, the scope of the original FOA award could be to operate, maintain, transform, and develop IT services to minimum service levels on several performance indicators.  Then, if the contractor and agency “lift and shift” the agency’s applications and infrastructure into the SoftLayer FedRAMP cloud (for example), the costs saved in on-prem O&M could be reallocated to a new work order under the FOA.  For example, for a new big data analytics application.

The FOA approach enables rapidly repurposing cost savings.  Another, perhaps more important benefit, is that the FOA approach helps an agency avoid being locked in to “the way we’ve always done it.”  A five-year contract with a definitive scope can lock an agency out of all the innovations that will occur during that period of performance.  With an FOA, the scope of the contract is no longer a barrier to change.  When defined as a statement of objectives, and awarded to a contractor in the business of transforming and operating, the scope of the contract becomes an accelerator of change.