GSA Invites Vendors to Bid on Agile BPA


Price is significantly less important than technical approach, the request for quotes says.

The federal government is one step closer to simplifying tech contracts for the agile delivery of services. 

After months of preparation, the General Services Administration has invited tech vendors -- those already on GSA's Schedule 70 -- to submit quotes for expertise in user experience design and agile software development, among other skills, according to the request for quotes

"Agile" refers to a methodology prioritizing the rapid development, testing and deployment of products instead of taking months or years to develop, and then, deploy technology. 

GSA plans to select a few vendors for "Multiple Award Blanket Purchase Agreements," pre-approving them for federal agencies. In their quotes, interested vendors are asked to demonstrate they followed principles outlined in the U.S. Digital Services Playbook, released last year, including "automat[ing] testing and deployment." They are also asked to create a product prototype based on a public dataset, posting their work in a publicly accessible repository, according to the request for quotes. 

GSA estimates the purchase volume through these agreements could be $25 million over the BPA's life, according to the RFQ. These BPAs aim to create a "streamlined and common contracting vehicle" promoting vendors specializing in fields such as flexible software architecture, software development -- "in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams," --- and DevOps, a methodology in which development and operational teams work together closely.

GSA's internal agile development team, 18F, plans to award five contracts to small businesses for "design" expertise; another five to small businesses for "development"; and 10 for a "full-stack" of skills, open to businesses of all sizes. 

To qualify for the "design" pool, according to the RFQ, vendors must contain a:

  • product manager
  • writer/content designer/content strategist
  • front end Web designer
  • interaction designer/user researcher/usability tester

For "development," vendors must include a technical architect, back-end Web developer, front end Web developer, and a DevOps engineer.

"Full-stack" vendors must include a:

  • product manager
  • technical architect
  • interaction designer/user researcher/usability tester
  • a writer/content designer/content strategist, a visual designer
  • a front-end Web developer
  • a backend Web developer
  • a DevOps engineer, a security engineer
  • a delivery manager
  • agile coach
  • business analyst
  • digital performance analyst.

"Price is significantly less important than technical approach and will be used as a deciding factor with companies that receive the same technical approach rating," GSA said in the RFQ. 

In a blog post announcing the RFQ, 18F staff admitted it "took us longer than we expected," but added "[w]e learned from our partners within the General Services Administration about how to improve the BPA, and we helped educate them about how we work, and what we want our vendors to be able to do. As a result, we have a better RFQ than we started with.”

(Image via BoBaa22/