VA to test new acquisition approaches

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G2X TAKE: Two separate RFIs released this week highlight some new acquisition approaches that VA is taking as they work with other agencies to secure the products, services, and innovations that will help them meet their mission.

The first is a bit more traditional as the VA Center for Innovation (VACI) is striking up a relationship with NASA Johnson Space Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation. As part of a sources sought released earlier this week NASA stated they will be “providing access to prize competition support services and a curated list of prize vendors for the purpose of efficiently and successfully conducting competitions across a broad landscape of topics and desired outcomes.”

These types of competitions have become common place across the Federal sector, and while there is typically limited funding, this will be worth monitoring as firms have had some success using these challenges as a breeding ground for larger enterprise initiatives, while developing past performance.

The second and more interesting approach was detailed as part of a recent 18F Micro-Purchase Digital Auction Services RFI, which will utilize an ongoing beta program run by 18F.

Per this RFI, the VA intends on entering into an Interagency Agreement with GSA “to provide digital services focused on the interaction between Government and small business through their 18F open source market place. GSA will deliver digital services and product features through the use of auctions on the 18F digital auctions platform.”

“VA will submit micro-purchase requirements to 18F and 18F will solicit quotes from vendors through the 18F digital auctions platform. Vendors will evaluate auctions, review source code associated with that auction, and submit their quotes.”

We suspect few government contractors are going to lose sleep over this, but in this world of agile and iterative software development, any approach to acquiring small and rapid development needs and that circumvents the need for competition clearly has a place.

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