Are you a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) looking to do business with the Federal government? Well, there is good news for you: General Services Administration (GSA) has announced a new contract vehicle – “Ascend”- a multi-purpose, multiple-award Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) focused specifically on cloud technologies.
Ascend is part of the GSA’s Cloud Marketplace vision of empowering government agencies to develop and implement enterprise-level cloud acquisition strategies through a new and simplified approach to meet their IT and cybersecurity needs. The BPA aims to avoid the inconvenience agencies typically face when dealing with a more diverse and complex industry when acquiring cloud solutions. The BPA would supplement existing Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) and Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) offerings rather than duplicate them. Ascend will serve as a one-stop shop for Federal clients looking for secure cloud service solutions from GSA suppliers. With a focus on the Special Item Numbers (SINs): 518210C – Cloud and Cloud-Related IT Professional Services and 54151S – IT Professional Services, Ancillary, and Order Level Materials (OLM), this BPA will allow the agencies to quickly and effectively acquire repeatable goods and services from a pool of qualified contractors.
What will GSA Ascend Cover?
The BPA will emphasize Cloud Smart/Security Smart objectives and set minimum baseline standards for the technology, business, operations, reporting, and acquisition capabilities offered by commercial Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and cloud-focused labor service providers that other GSA MAS or GWACs do not currently cover.
Ascend will concentrate on allowing support for both vertical (such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) and horizontal capabilities throughout the ecosystem and will offer more efficient system integration and managed support services for the delivery of adaptable, diverse, and secure cloud solutions. The BPA will focus on providing high-quality services quickly through the use of relevant cloud IT professional services to provide an “open-source” like experience and the use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Anything as a Service (XaaS). As a result, the government will be able to fully access, own, and port its data. It will also be easier to create a government model for the reuse of standard applications that other agencies can use. It will also allow the government to reuse standard apps that would work across many agencies.
The Ascend BPA will have three main autonomous pools (Pool 1, Pool 2, and Pool 3), each with a unique set of sub-pools. For all three pools, the applicable primary SIN is 518210C, and the secondary SIN is any additional awarded MAS Contract SIN determined to be essential, except for Pool 3, which has 54151S as an additional secondary SIN. The services will be distinguished by a focus on delivering high-quality services rapidly, the use of related cloud IT professional services, and the use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Anything as a Service (XaaS) to create an “open-source”-like experience.
Listed below are the three main pools within GSA Ascend:
Pool 1 – IaaS and PaaS: The first pool will target the awardees offering IaaS and PaaS cloud computing platforms and the following sub-pools:
- Sub-Pool 1-1: Unclassified IaaS and PaaS Cloud Service Offerings
- Sub-Pool 1-2: Classified IaaS and PaaS Cloud Service Offerings
- Sub-Pool 1-X: Additional sub-pools will be defined based on government requirements.
Pool 2 – SaaS: The second pool will target the SaaS offerings and has one sub-pool:
- Sub-Pool 2-X: Additional sub-pools will be defined based on government requirements.
Pool 3 – Cloud IT Professional Services: The third pool will focus on cloud IT professional services and has the following sub-pool.
- Sub-Pool 3-X: The definition of further sub-pools will depend on the needs of the government.
To enable Federal agencies and others to purchase and implement secure, integrated commercial cloud services solutions, each major pool and sub-pool will be evaluated and rewarded separately. The government may eventually create more pools and sub-pools, depending on the demands of various agencies and the technology status.
What are its Major Benefits?
For the government, Ascend will help provide secure cloud solutions by integrating applicable cybersecurity legislation, regulations (such as Cyber Executive Order 14028), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) best practices. It will help the government get compliant solutions through vendors that fulfill the cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) standards. Additionally, it will reduce cybersecurity incidents by instituting the requirements along with Zero-Trust Architecture principles. Ascend will also reduce provider administrative expenses and Federal government load by reducing the requirement for each agency to manage the difficulties of estimating demand and selecting how to pay for cloud solutions individually. The BPA will also help the government access standardized transactional and consumption data.
For contractors, Ascend will increase the prospects available to small business participants by providing IT consulting services relating to the cloud. It will allow BPA holders to get access to excellent business deals. In addition, it will enable solutions providers to participate in both the initial award and subsequent award pools through its phased acquisition strategy.
When is it Expected to be Released?
With GSA’s draft Performance Work Statement (PWS), GSA gathered questions, feedback, and solution suggestions from interested parties. GSA will continue to release program updates in the upcoming months to provide the market opportunity to offer input before the final draft solicitation is made public.
Ascend BPA is still in the market research phase, and an exact award date has not been announced yet, but GSA is hoping to engage with the industry over the coming months – an industry day and a draft solicitation might be coming up next. GSA intends to issue a draft solicitation for the first pool of agreements which will include IaaS and PaaS solutions in the upcoming weeks. Following that, there will be an industry day where suppliers can provide feedback. GSA plans to award the Ascend BPA in phases and make numerous awards in each pool.
Ascend is a golden opportunity to collaborate with the GSA, establish yourself in the Federal market, and advance your company. Going after contract vehicles can be a complicated process for small businesses. Our team here at iQuasar simplifies the process for our clients. We support Small Businesses in bidding for complex contract vehicles such as Polaris, OASIS+ (GSA BIC MAC), CATS+, CIO-SP4, Alliant SB, 8(a) STARS, HCaTS, Navy SEAPORT-E, MOBIS, RMAS, and other GWACs. Our teams at iQuasar constantly track updates related to contract vehicles like GSA Ascend. Our team of experts will supervise the entire process by helping you evaluate your eligibility, increase your readiness levels, prepare a proposal development strategy custom-made to your firm’s unique requirements, and create a high-quality and compliant proposal response to help you win.