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6/10/2011
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GSA Again Seeks Advice On Buying Technology

The BetterBuy wiki comes back to life to garner feedback on the acquisition process before the federal government moves to actually buy tech products and services.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) has restarted a pilot project to provide a wiki aimed at improving the federal government's technology acquisition process.

The agency has added a new requirement to the Better Buy wiki, which provides an online forum that allows vendors to provide feedback on acquisitions and suggest ways to improve the process before making the actual request for proposal for bids on projects.

On the home page of the wiki, the agency said that it paused the project due to fiscal end-of-year issues, but now is restarting it with new requirements. "The entire point of this exercise is to test out how can we use collaboration and social media to make the federal acquisition process more efficient and effective," according to introductory comments on the wiki.

One of the projects included in the pilot is the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless acquisition, a project to create a "centralized government-wide cellular devices and services program that will meet the majority of the federal government's wireless service needs that are offered by the cellular industry," according to the wiki.

The GSA previously tested out the wiki with other pilot projects that have now closed--one for improving Data.gov's data storage and hosting capabilities; one for a project called "Clearpath," through which the government seeks technical infrastructure; and another for a project to help the GSA decide the best way to move its email to the cloud.

The agency will continue to test enhancements to Better Buy as it moves forward with the pilots, it said.

Improving how the government purchases products and services and plans IT projects is a key aspect of the federal government's 25-point IT reform plan, unveiled by U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra in December.

A CIO.gov blog post unveiling the FSSI BetterBuy pilot stressed the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) intent to improve communication before the GSA acquires technology to avoid mistakes later that have in the past cost the federal government money.

"OMB encourages collaboration opportunities; increased effective communication with industry at critical points, early in the IT acquisition process, will help clarify requirements to reduce costs and help agencies achieve better results," according to the post.

In the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: More than half of federal agencies will use cloud computing within 12 months, our new survey finds. Security, ROI, and management challenges await them. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2011 | 2:14:08 AM
re: GSA Again Seeks Advice On Buying Technology
Imagine if all industries had such a resource--think of the time, money and resources that could be saved.

Deb Donston
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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