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Vol. LXII, No. 22
October 29, 2010

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NIH Calls for Potential IT Contractors, Targets Small Businesses

On the front page...

NIH, through its Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), has solicited proposals to establish government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) worth about $40 billion—the second-largest GWAC program award ever. Two solicitations are involved: one unrestricted solicitation has been released; a second solicitation restricted to small businesses will be released shortly.

“The separate small business set-aside is designed to better protect the interests of small business,” said Mary Armstead, NITAAC program director. “The two nearly identical solicitations will each have a 10-year period of performance and contract ceilings of approximately $20 billion.”


Understanding Alphabet Soup

NITAAC currently manages three GWACs: ECS III, CIO-SP2i and IW2nd. By definition, a GWAC is an ID/IQ contract. If those last two sentences seem like secret code to you, here’s the legend:

  • ID/IQ stands for indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity. This type of vehicle enables buyers to issue orders against an umbrella contract, instead of openly competing each individual requirement.
  • ECS III is the Electronic Commodities Store contract. Now in its third generation, this GWAC allows users to buy computer hardware, software and related support services.
  • CIO-SP2i is the second generation of Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners. This GWAC covers IT services and solutions including infrastructure, security, operations and maintenance.
  • IW2nd refers to Image World, second generation. It offers imaging solutions for business, medical science and geographic information systems.

Why GWACs?

GWACs make buying IT products, services and solutions easier, faster and less expensive than other types of government contracts.

Mary Armstead, NITAAC program director, shepherds one of the agency’s largest-ever contracts.

Mary Armstead, NITAAC program director, shepherds one of the agency’s largest-ever contracts.

Since 1996, when Congress revolutionized IT procurement in federal agencies, only three agencies have been designated “executive agent” by the Office of Management and Budget. This designation is what enables an agency like NIH to offer GWACS, which any federal buyer can then use. NITAAC can provide IT products, services and solutions not only for NIEHS and the Office of AIDS Research, but also for other agencies like NOAA and NASA.

For federal procurement officers, GWACs are like superstores that carry merchandise from only the best designer labels.

“NIH received its first designation as executive agent in September 2000,” Armstead noted. “Since that time, NIH’s authority has been continually renewed.”

IT Services and Solutions, Soup to Nuts

The new $40B contract, called CIO-SP3, will consolidate CIO-SP2i and IW2nd. In addition to offering general IT products, services and solutions, it is designed to align with the Federal Health Architecture. The CIO-SP2i contract will remain in place through the end of 2012 and may be extended as a bridge to customers.

Ten tasks covering the spectrum of IT services comprise CIO-SP3: IT services for biomedical, health sciences and health care; CIO support; imaging; outsourcing; IT operations and maintenance; integration services; critical infrastructure protection and information assurance; digital government; enterprise management systems; and software development.

Armstead estimates the request for proposals, the evaluations and the selection processes will take months to complete. If all goes according to plan, the new GWACs should be awarded sometime during summer 2011.

“NIH employees who are interested in finding out more about GWACs, or about NITAAC and its online ordering systems, can call or email our Customer Support Center [1-888-773-6542,], email me [] or email Robert Coen, deputy program director [],” said Armstead.

NITAAC’s web site——was revamped last April, she noted, and is full of useful information. On each contract page, for example, a column of related links contains user guides for online purchasing systems, contract holder listings, recent awards and more. An events calendar lists trade shows and conferences where NITAAC is exhibiting, along with upcoming customer training. NIHRecord Icon

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