GSA to launch new BPA focusing on cloud technologies

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The General Services Administration will roll out a new blanket purchase agreement to provide federal agencies with commercial cloud offerings as it seeks to reduce burden on government buyers – and administration costs for providers.

The General Services Administration is planning to launch a blanket purchase agreement focusing on cloud technologies as part of its effort to provide the federal government with a one-stop shop for secure commercial cloud offerings.

GSA will host an industry day and release a draft solicitation in the months ahead while continuing to review responses to a request for information the agency published last year about its plans to establish the new award, according to Sonny Hashmi, commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, who spoke on Wednesday at FCW's Cloud Summit

Hashmi said the aim of the new initiative, called Ascend BPA, is to reduce administration costs for providers, as well as burden across the federal government by eliminating the need for each agency to navigate the complexities of forecasting demand and determining how to provide payment for cloud solutions on their own. 

"It's certainly in the early days, but the idea of this multi-purpose, multi-award BPA will be to allow agencies to acquire and implement secure commercial cloud service offerings and ultimately to deliver solutions that they need," Hashmi said. "Ascend is going to be designed to allow agencies to not only plan and execute cloud acquisitions … but it's going to have built-in minimum thresholds for security, data ownership, common terms and conditions."

While the government already has countless methods of purchasing cloud offerings, the GSA is hoping Ascend BPA will provide agencies with the best means of acquiring and subsequently managing their cloud solutions in one place, with Hashmi noting the award will be designed to optimize for payment by consumption and feature new insights on government spend data for cloud consumption. 

"There's always going to be a way to buy straightforward, fixed-price cloud solutions, just the way agencies have today," he added. "But there's a lot of, kind of pain points and use cases that are not being addressed, and that's what we're envisioning this marketplace to approach."

The RFI indicated that Ascend BPA will be rolled out on a competitive basis and categorized by pools, including infrastructure as a service and Platform as a Service, Software as a Service  and Cloud Professional Services. On Wednesday, Hashmi said there will be an opportunity to onboard new pools and additional sub-pools as the BPA is released in an agile method and as requirements change over time. 

"The driving factor around this is going to be demand signal generation," Hashmi said. "We want to make sure that we understand deeply the commonality across the government of requirements, expectations, minimum capabilities ... those kinds of things that are common for all agencies – we want to make sure they're baked into the foundation." 

Hashmi said the GSA is hoping to encourage industry leaders to increasingly engage with the vehicle as it gets rolled out in the coming months.