What are GWACS?
How does the Government-Wide Acquisition Contract work?
What are the essential elements you should know!
Keep reading as I have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let’s look into government acquisition contracts and how it works!
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What Are GWACs
GWACs is an acronym that stands for Government-Wide Acquisition Contract.
A GWAC is a type of contract where the government agencies get together to define their needs and together enter into a purchase contract with their vendors and suppliers in an attempt to get better rates and achieve greater economies of scale.
The government-wide contracts are made available through the U.S. General Service Administration (or the GSA), the National Aeronautics Space Association (or NASA), and the National Institute of Health (or NIH).
According to the U.S. General Services Administration, Government-wide Acquisition Contracts or GWACs are defined as follows:
Pre-completed, multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract that agencies can use to buy total IT solutions more efficiently and economically
As the name suggests, a “government-wide acquisition contract” allows the government agencies to make purchasing decisions serving the interests of multiple agencies at the same time, working with fewer vendors, and reducing their overall costs per unit.
GWACs are regulated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (or FAR) outlining various rules that federal agencies and sellers of goods and services to the government (Contract Holders) must follow.
The primary reason why multiple government agencies unit their purchasing needs and coordinate their purchasing with one another is to lower their acquisition costs.
For example, government agencies and governmental institutions may purchase new technological hardware or software as part of a GWAC.
As such, with a larger purchase, the government agencies can collectively pay less in purchasing costs than if they were to individually enter into purchasing contracts on their own.
How Do GWACs Work
Over the years, more and more government acquisition contracts are concluded through a government-wide agency contract.
The way it works is that many governmental bodies, agencies, institutions, and organizations define their purchasing needs as a single unit and place an order with a vendor to cover all their needs.
According to statistical reports, in 2015, 12% of the government spending in the United States was through the GWAC contracting and that percentage increased to 20% in 2019.
For the government, GWACs are particularly useful in the following areas:
- System design
- Software engineering
- Information technology
- Enterprise architecture solutions
For instance, when several governmental agencies need to update their IT systems, procure software solutions, or manage their IT networks, they may fulfill their purchasing needs through GSA GWACs to lower their costs dealing with vendors that have been approved to participate.
Here are the steps to engage in a GWAC acquisition:
- Step 1: A federal agency identifies a need
- Step 2: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves the IT requirement
- Step 3: The agency drafts a statement of work (SOW) for an RFP on GWAC
- Step 4: GWAC contractors respond to the RFP
- Step 5: The agency evaluates the responses
- Step 6: The contractor offering the best value, price, and overall the best deal wins the RFP
- Step 7: The agency goes through a fair opportunity process
- Step 8: The agency issues a GWAC task order
To better assess its expenditures, get pricing information, obtain benchmarking information, the government has put in place a GWAC Prices Paid Tool providing the federal agencies with the ability to extract the relevant information they need to drive their purchasing decisions.
Benefits of A GWAC Contract
There are two main reasons why a GSA GWAC or any contract acquisition by the government for multiple agencies can be advantageous:
- The government can use its size and important purchasing needs to negotiate better rates
- Multiple government agencies can coordinate their efforts with one team having the proper expertise and knowledge benefiting the government entities as a group
On the first point, just like for any type of contract negotiation, the more you purchase, the more you may negotiate your rates.
As such, the government uses its size to its advantage.
Imagine there are 30 government agencies where they each need to procure 100 units of a certain product, individually they may only negotiate a small price concession for 100 units but collectively they may get a much larger discount for 3,000 units.
With regards to the second major advantage, the government agencies can share the knowledge and expertise of their teams in favor of the entire group.
If a certain government entity has particular expertise in purchasing a specific type of software product, it may be best that this team handles the purchasing needs for the entire government entity as a group than for each agency to have to figure things out on their own.
Other important benefits in government contracting and acquisition are:
- The government entities can use a fee-based assisted service to get help in defining their requirements
- Get proper market data and research
- Help speed up their purchasing cycle even with limited staff or with backlogs
- Allow agencies to deal with much more complex purchasing decisions
- Access online tools to help with the purchasing needs
- Help agencies comply with their small business contracting requirements
- Work with streamlined task order management and automated tools
Overall, many government agencies see real value in GWAC acquisition contracts.
Types of GWAC
What are the different types of GWACs out there?
Let’s look at a few types of GWACs to better understand how it works in practice.
8(a) STARS III
The 8(a) Star III GWAC is offered through the GSA and offers access to qualified and small disadvantaged businesses (8(a) certification).
The VETS 2 GWAC is offered through the GSA and allows for the use of Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (also known as SDVOSB).
The Alliant 2 (or A2) is offered through the GSA and allows for the purchase of IT goods and services such as hardware products, software products, or other IT-related services.
The Solution for Enterprise-Side Procurement or SEWP is offered through NASA allowing for the purchase of desktop computers, storage systems, software products, cloud-based systems, and various IT-related products.
NITAAC GWACS are offered through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) relating to different programs such as:
- CIO-SP3 Small Business
- CIO-CS IT Commodities
- CIO-SP4 IT Services
So there you have it folks!
What is a GWAC?
How do the General Services Administration (GSA) government contracts work?
How many GWACs are there?
GWAC stands for Governmentwide Acquisition Contract that may be used by any civilian or defense government agencies for the purchase of information technology products and services.
Generally, GSA GWACs are indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts.
GSA govt contracts are advantageous as they allow the government agencies to buy IT products and services from pre-approved vendors who have gone through a selection process to be able to participate in the program.
Through GSA contracting, not only the agencies are able to fulfill their needs at a lower cost but they can also work with vendors that have been already vetted.
Government agencies also see many benefits in handling their procurement through government acquisition contracts, such as:
- Ability to access market data and benchmarking information
- Ability to use automated platforms
- Ability to work with experts who understand the government purchasing complexities
- Ability to get best prices from pre-approved contractors
- Ability to meet small business or minority contracting requirements
Over the course of the past 25 years, more and more agencies are relying on GWACs to procure technology products and services.
The speed at which technology evolves and market conditions change make it difficult for every government agency to remain on top of the latest trends and best practices.
GWACs offer easy-to-use and cost-effective ways for obtaining IT products and services.
Most of the GWACs are handled by three agencies:
- the General Services Administration (GSA)
- the National Institute of Health (NIH)
- the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
In the end, getting into GWAC deals allows the government entities to save money and make it easier to perform more complex procurement and purchasing decisions.
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If you enjoyed this article on GWACS, I recommend you look into the following terms and concepts. Enjoy!
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