About Gabrielle Zimmerman

Gabrielle Zimmerman, PMP, CPCM is a Federal Retiree who spent most of her career working in Information Technology to support the procurement process. Years with the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency have given her a great perspective on how things work and an authoritative voice. Today Gabrielle consults with Partnet, Inc. a pioneering small business that stays on the cutting edge of eCommerce and IT solutions delivery.

Part 4: Tera-Scope Contracts – Value Add or Gordian Knot?

In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series we have looked at the trend for Federal Information Technology (IT) procurements to enter into “Tera-Scope” contracts where all possible IT goods and services are brought under one massive Performance Work Statement.  Some Agencies are requesting all-or-none responses which are impossible for any one company to meet alone.  This adds further to the complexity by necessitating Teaming Arrangements that create groups capable of meeting all the task areas, experience requirements and socio-economic requirements of the RFP.  Some Agencies are creating their Tera-Scope RFPs but allowing companies to participate only in those areas representing their core competencies.  This simplifies the proposal writing process for the contractor and the evaluation process for the Government.

Ultimately a set of contracts will result that can be used by the target customer groups within an Agency, or even Government-wide, for ordering.  In Agency specific scenarios, the resulting contracts are promised to be the only vehicles to be used for any Agency requirement.  Project Managers must work with a company or a Team that has one of the contracts under the Tera-Scope.  Work may be competed only among those companies or Teams that have one of the contracts under the Tera-Scope.  Let us hope the Source Selection Team has chosen wisely and avoided protests from the losing companies.

What does the Government believe will happen when it limits its buyers’ access to companies that provide goods and services?

Winning companies should provide better prices just because they know they are more likely to get work now that the competition has been narrowed (aka Strategic Sourcing).
Winning companies should continue to provide better and better prices because they have to compete within this smaller pool to […]

Part 3: Tera-Scope Contracts and Risk

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series we talked about the contractor and Government perspectives of setting up for, releasing and responding to a Tera-Scope contract opportunity.  Now let’s talk about the high risks associated with putting together such a complicated contractual arrangement.

For several decades the Federal Government has employed Long Term Contracts in order to found relationships with a vendor or vendors for a long period of time.  Task orders are issued against the contracts for work as needs arise.  This saves the Government from repeating the full acquisition process over and over.  Sometimes only the founding Agency can order from the contract.  If ordering is open outside the founding Agency it qualifies as a Government-Wide Acquisition contract (GWAC).   I’m calling a Tera-Scope contract a Long Term Contract where the Government combines every conceivable IT service under one umbrella that requires each offeror to respond to all task areas.  This necessitates Teaming in order to present an excellent proposal in every regard.  For Tera-Scope opportunities where you must respond to all task areas a company cannot afford to be “just okay” in any one of them.  The main difference for a Tera-Scope is that the range of tasks included is very broad – even vast.

In responding to a Tera-Scope RFP proposals must detail why a Team is high quality and high value for every aspect of the Tera-Scope.  Once everything is written and submitted it may still be a while before a decision is made by the Government.  A recently publicized Tera-Scope draft RFP comes with a timeline of 12 months for evaluation and selection of teams for award.  Make sure you understand the termination provisions of your Teaming Agreements. You don’t […]

Part 2: Tera-Scope IT Contracts

In Part 1 of this series we talked about the trend towards “Tera-Scope” competitions within the U.S. Government for comprehensive Information Technology (IT) services.  Here in Part 2 we will take a peek under the tent at what the Government is going through.

Many groups that are often perceived as different business areas have collaborated on the PWS for this Tera-Scope contract.  Contributions for task areas have to give enough information about that area to foster understanding of the possibilities without getting too specific about what work will or won’t be ordered, so there can be no perceived promises.  Someone should be reviewing the whole package for consistency, duplication and conflict resolution.  Often this is left to the contracting folks who are not technical experts.  The evaluation criteria must give clear guidance to offerors and evaluators on what the Government needs to know to choose the right Teams.  All of the RFP requirements are pulled into a very large package that undergoes a series of pre-solicitation reviews to make sure the RFP is coherent, compliant and will result in a contract that achieves the Government’s objectives.  It depends on the organization and on the specific individuals involved as to how much conversation takes place between the requiring activities and the contracting activity before the RFP hits the street.  More is better, but more takes longer and these days speedy contract awards are in high demand.  There can be a tendency for a “you take care of your part and I’ll take care of my part” scenario to develop between the requiring activity (the IT Department) and the procurement activity.  There are not too many more frustrating things than re-explaining your requirements to your contracts specialist after […]

Part 1: Is the Trend for Tera-Scope Terrifying or Terrific?

In this 4 part post we are going to explore a trend in how the U.S. Government is acquiring Information Technology (IT) services. More and more agencies are developing Performance Work Statements (PWS) with every possible type of IT service (including associated item acquisition) into comprehensive, umbrella arrangements. There are several variations on this approach but the most current one seems to be the “all inclusive package”. In Part 1 of this post we are going to look at how vendors perceive what I am calling “Tera-Scope” opportunities.
Old Way: The Government needs a specific set of IT services over a multi-year period of time that will accomplish one large overall objective (such as the full life cycle of a computer business system). Companies 1, 2 and 3 compete. Company 2 wins the contract. Company 2 hires subcontractors to fill capacity or skill gaps and begins working with the Government to achieve the Government’s objectives. Next month the Government needs another specific set of IT Services over a multi-year period of time (let’s say it’s Help Desk/Customer Care). Companies 1, 4 and 5 compete. Company 4 wins the contract. Company 4 hires subcontractors to fill capacity or skill gaps and begins working with the Government to achieve the Government’s objectives. And so on…., resulting in a lot of contracts to manage.

New Way: The Government writes a “Tera-Scope” Performance Work Statement (PWS). It covers every aspect of IT services and products including property acquisition and installation, facilities management, operations, software development and sustainment, systems engineering, technology assessment, information assurance, help desk/customer care, training, administrative support and the kitchen sink. Only winners of a contract will get work within the Tera-Scope from that Agency. Any of the […]

Category Management in Federal eCommerce

Category Management is a way to present a group of like items, generally from a functional perspective, in such a way that the individual kinds of items in the category are listed and described, and their relationships and uses are also cataloged and explained in detail.

Organizing materials in such a fashion is essential for eCommerce sellers in order to support buyers who browse when shopping. Browsing provides the opportunity to understand all the options and enables informed, best-value choices.

A category will consist of an overarching designation: the title of the category. Within this grouping the subcategories can be listed in a branch-like fashion to show their relationships in relation to the entire category.

Here’s an example:

Office Supplies

Paper

White Copy Paper

By weight
By size
By package quantity
By brand
By finish
By price

Multi-Purpose Paper

Color Paper
Recycled Paper…

Writing Instruments
Fasteners
And so on …

Office supplies are ubiquitous and therefore a good category to illustrate the principle of subcategories. Even young students have a basic understanding that there are various items involved in doing activities at school that comprise “supplies” needed to support the learning process. Taking that further, they can distinguish between like-things that are used to write or draw with, things that are used to write or draw upon, things that are used to store or display the items written or drawn upon, and things that are used to change or repair those items; and yet see all of these things as related to each other.

Admittedly, there are some who know more about office supplies than others. For most people, a plain white sheet of 8.5 x 11-inch paper is “copy paper.” Little notice may be given to weight, content, density, manufacturing process, or stability by the average paper user, but for the connoisseur these […]

3 Things I’ve Learned Since Joining the Private Sector

Many of my friends and colleagues are still “on the inside,” as in working for the Federal Government as civilian employees. I took the plunge 18 months ago; I retired and went to work in the private sector. This blog post is for my friends and colleagues who may be thinking about doing the same thing. I’ve got some points I’d like for you to consider that reach beyond the obvious.

1. You must stay informed. When working for the Federal Government, as long as you know the chain of command in your organization, the goals and objectives set by the organization, and the informal power structure therein, you really don’t have to pay too much attention to the larger world. If policies change the policy people will tell you – and even they have to be in touch with only their assigned area of responsibility. Sure, you are more effective if you continually survey the entire landscape, but you don’t necessarily have to do this.

In the private sector nobody tells you when to pay attention. Reading news articles, participating in LinkedIn discussion groups, monitoring trade journals is something you have to do now as part of your daily work habits. Suddenly it’s all about what you know that’s new in addition to who or what you know.

2. The bottom line is real and you must contribute. As a civil servant I worked hard to stay within budget for my projects. But truth be told, when unforeseen issues or needs arose, there was always money somewhere to bridge the gap. You do need skills such as anticipation, persuasiveness, and passion to get the available money before somebody else does, but somehow there’s always a way […]

Busting Barriers for eCommerce in Government

I tend to think that time spent on the Internet is less productive.

Like any office activity, the time spent completing it is a strict coefficient of Dawdle. Compare the time spent browsing the shelves in a hardware store to searching for a product on line. Add to that the time it takes to go there and back again and the Internet wins.

Product Reviews for Government eCommerce

Government sites would be wise to adopt the commercial standard of providing starred reviews, which would go a long way to improve the perception of user friendliness by increasing the consumer’s understanding of the items available.

An Alternative to FSSI?

FSSI solutions provide easy access to its procurement vehicles, which offer business intelligence, best practice solutions, and greater discounts with volume increases.

Let’s Get the B2G Conversation Started — Part 2

It’s hard to imagine that there would be any reluctance to explore the possibilities for a project or product with others who have direct knowledge and expertise and yet, getting that conversation started seems to be the hardest part of doing business with the Government.

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