In October 2008, representatives of the federal acquisition community

gathered at the Washington Hilton to honor ten government

project teams whose excellence and innovation represented

the best of breed in federal acquisition. One of those honored that

night was the Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE) program,

which received an Outstanding Information Technology Achievement

in Government award for its extraordinary accomplishments in fiscal

year 2008.

IAEs unique service solution furthered government-wide streamlining,

transparency, fiscal accountability, and efficiency by introducing

the next generation of acquisition services to the acquisition community.

The focus is now on aggregation and consolidation of services.

As Julie Basile, procurement analyst from the U.S. Office of Federal

Procurement Policy (who nominated IAE for this award) said, The

processes and products of the various IAE tools continue to stand at

the forefront of e-Government efforts. This article discusses how, as it

moves into its sixth year, IAE is evolving to lead government-wide efforts

to meet the challenges of the future.

IAE Services

The story of the first five years of the IAE program

was told in previous editions of The Public Manager.

That two-part article discussed how IAE, managed

by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA),

had lived up to the e-Gov promise to streamline and

facilitate federal acquisition systems. Since that article

was published, IAE, which was the largest of the crossagency

e-Gov initiatives, graduated from initiative status

to becoming an integral part of the Chief Acquisition

Officers Council.

IAE provides a portfolio of services that facilitate the

acquisition process for federal agencies, business partners,

and the public. Briefly described, these services are as

follows (for more details, go to www.acquisition.gov):

FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov) is the single government

point of entry for posting solicitations over

$25,000, and it allows commercial business suppliers

to search, monitor, and retrieve opportunities

in federal government markets. FBO now includes

the functionality of the Federal Technical Data

Solutions (FedTeDS), which allows agencies to

securely disseminate sensitive acquisition-related

technical data for solicitations to approved business

partners.

Central Contractor Registration (www.ccr.gov) is the

required point of registration for vendors wishing

to do business with the government. CCR now

validates new CCR registrations with existing

Federal Agency Registration (FedReg) records.

FedReg, the federal yellow pages, contains information

about federal entities that buy and sell

from other federal entities.

Federal Procurement Data System (www.fpds.gov)

provides data on all federal contract actions over

$3,000.

Wage Determinations OnLine (www.wdol.gov)

makes Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act

wage determinations easily accessible by the contracting

community.

Online Representations and Certifications Application

(www.bpn.gov/orca) allows vendors to enter representations

and certifications once for use on all

federal contracts.

Excluded Parties List System (www.epls.gov) identifies

parties excluded from receiving federal

contracts and certain subcontracts, as well as individuals

excluded from certain types of federal

financial and nonfinancial assistance, including

benefits.

Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (www.esrs.

gov) facilitates reporting of accomplishments toward

subcontracting goals.

Past Performance Information Retrieval System

(www.ppirs.gov), although not the financial responsibility

of IAE, takes functional direction from

the IAE Program Management Office (PMO) and

provides timely access to past performance information.

Part of IAEs strategic planning includes

addressing performance as a future integrated business

service offering.

Addressing Future Challenges

In 2002, when the IAE team began its work

choosing the information technology solutions needed

to streamline and integrate the federal acquisition

processes, it considered three strategies: adopt, adapt,

or acquire. The federal acquisition community would

adopt existing systems if they met common requirements,

were state of the art or near to it, and could

scale to support the entire federal government. The

government systems that could not, in their native

form, be extended to the entire federal procurement

community were adapted. In this option, IAE leveraged

existing systems and enhanced them through an

acceptable level of investment so they could perform

their given functionality government-wide. Then,

commercial products were acquired that best fit the

requirements, using performance-based contracting to

maximize creativity of industry solutions.

The adopt, adapt, acquire strategy proved successful,

but after reaching a steady state, the IAE PMO had to

address new challenges, including

reducing program costs limited by budgetary

constraints,

shortening the time needed to implement changes

to increase flexibility,

leveraging economies of scale,

better allocating resources,

improving data accuracy, and

increasing transparency.

The goal is to ensure credibility and confidence as

we move to a new data economy and an era of more

government transparency. Increased transparency means

government information and data are more accessible,

more responsive, more accountable, and more readily

available. To meet this goal, IAE has added a new strategy,

aggregation, the fourth A.

The Fourth A

The aggregation strategy focuses on business services

and data in the acquisition life cycle. The next

generation of IAE services will further transform the

environment, evolving to deliver seamless technology

that works in the federal acquisition architecture, emphasizing

integration rather than individual applications.

Consolidation of Web services will reduce or eliminate

those currently duplicated across the enterprise in each

applicationsuch as authentication, help desk, hosting,

and Web services (as in the recent FBO/FedTeDS

consolidation). The functions performed by the current

IAE applications will be migrated to a set of acquisition

business services to be implemented consistent with

service-oriented architecture concepts and technology

and will leverage open source software and software development

methods.

The next generation of aggregated IAE business

services will make it easier for government contracting

personnel, vendors, and citizens to do business with the

government and for IAE to adapt to new requirements.

For example, after all the vendor services are aggregated

in one application, vendors will only have to register

once to access information currently held in systems

such as CCR, ORCA, and eSRS. Contracting personnel

will be able to access IAE data from within their

agency contract-writing systems, eliminating the need

to logon to several IAE applications. Reporting services

will be shared, so users will only have to learn one way to

obtain reports (as opposed to learning the report-writing

systems of the individual systems). Aggregating and

leveraging a set of common services, such as reporting

and database management, will greatly simplify the information

technology infrastructure. Managing a few

databases, as opposed to the current eight, will reduce

redundancy and ultimately improve data accuracy and

reduce the cost of operating shared services.

The New FBO

Initial results of the 4A approach are impressive:

the delivery of the new FBO in April 2008 began the

process of delivering service-centric, open architecture

and aggregation of applications. The consolidation of

FedTeDS into FBO will save the government a projected

$1.5 million annually. FedTeDS, as a separate system,

was closed down in April 2008. Other features allow the

new FBO to

easily display modifications and amendments to

solicitations,

highlight newly added opportunities controlled by

setting up search agents,

streamline vendors use of a tailored Web experience

by enabling them to maintain their own account

profile and personalized home page, and

afford easy reference to a targeted opportunity

through the use of a new watch list.

According to several contracting officers, the new

FBO is much more user-friendly and the help desk

more responsive. A contracting officer from GSA said,

The-step-by-step process allows the buyers to post any

requirements more efficiently and timely. The process

of uploading documents in any format is far better than

beforeit is a welcome transformation.

Architecture and Operations Support

The next generation of IAE will reflect changes to

the IAE architecture plan through acquisitions that are

structured horizontally and vertically. Contracts will be

organized to support integration, not individual systems.

This effort began in November 2008 with the release

of the draft request for proposal for the architecture and

operations support (AOS) contract. The AOS contract

will transition the operation and maintenance of the

current FPDS to the AOS vendor. The remainder of the

IAE systems will be transitioned to AOS as their current

contracts expire. Future integration efforts include the

issuance of the acquisition services desk contract, which

will consolidate help-desk functions, and the consolidated

hosting services contract, which will centralize

hosting functions.

FY08 Accomplishments

Several of the IAE systems are enjoying increased

usage and functionality due to new releases and improvements

made this past year. The Department of Defense

(DoD) began migrating data to eSRS this year,

and DoD data were also migrated to FPDS. Also, eSRS

completed its implementation of the Federal Funding

Accountability and Transparency Act (www.ffata.org) in

March 2008. CCR had five new releases, which

validate new CCR registration with existing

FedReg records,

decrease the cost of mailings,

decrease spam going to vendors and increase their

security,

add new data elements to allow vendors to identify

themselves as disaster response contractors

to facilitate locating them in an emergency, and

implement a strong password, which better

aligns CCR with DoD policies and commercial

best practices.

Use of ORCA is now required by the Federal Acquisition

Regulation (FAR), leaving the Past Performance

Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), the only

IAE system not mandated for use by the FAR. Users

appreciate the ORCA improvements: in a note to the

ORCA help desk, one user described the ORCA process

as by far the best and easiest of any of the government

data and registration processes in which he had

ever participated. In 2008, PPIRS also added new functionality

that adds the DoD termination list to document

reported termination information. This list allows

contracting officials to view all current information

concerning terminations for default.

FPDS Version 1.3, released June 27, 2008, has exciting

new functionality, including an interagency contract

directory application that focuses on increasing transparency

and visibility of all indefinite delivery vehicles

available to agencies. Other improvements in this version

include

data element drop-down windows, which will

improve data accuracy,

re-representation functionality,

revision of North American Industry Classification

System codes,

CCR updates,

functionality to transfer contracts,

movement away from Federal Information Processing

Standard 55-3 to U.S. Postal Service

sources of data,

incorporation of Stafford Act competition requirements,

and

raising FPDS reporting thresholds.

Of these changes, a GSA contracting officer particularly

appreciated the conversion to Postal Service

sources of data. She said, These changes have definitely

made my job easier. This new release of FPDS makes it

much more efficient for contracting personnel to search

for specific zip codes and postal stops for each report.

Whats Ahead for IAE?

Planning continues for the next phase of IAE, as

it matures and continues to expand as a premier business

line that facilitates government-wide acquisition.

As Michael Tyllas, director of the Administrative Operations

Service/Program Support Center at the U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services, said recently,

IAE is a keystone to efficient and effective government

operations. IAE initiatives are transforming the way

government conducts business by helping agencies and

vendors standardize processes and reporting mechanisms,

driving down the cost of doing business. And by enhancing

the publics visibility over the acquisition resources

that were entrusted to manage, IAE can play a vital role

improving taxpayer confidence in the products and services

we provide.

In the future, IAE plans to award the architecture

and operations contract support contract, add links from

the Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans

Affairs to CCR, measure customer satisfaction, issue a

contract for usability testing, publish the Contractor

Assessment in the Acquisition Process, collect subcontracting

plans and workflow in eSRS, and incorporate

Web services into eSRS.

The next generation of IAE services will continue

to push acquisition forward in 2009. As Chris Fornecker,

the IAE program executive, states,

In 2009 we fully expect to continue to meet our

goals to bring visibility, transparency, competition, and

integrity to the federal acquisition process. We appreciate

the support of the federal acquisition community

and commercial business partners in helping us achieve

this goal.