NITAAC director on finding your right fit
One size does not fit all when it comes to GWACs
- By Robert Coen
- Dec 14, 2015
The process for bidding and winning a spot on a government wide acquisition contract is a rigorous one, and those who survive and win a coveted spot are in a position to grow their respective companies while providing much needed products and services to the federal IT community.
Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) familiar with the federal contracting process understand that their best access to these contracts is by partnering with a value-added reseller or a systems integrator that has won the contract.
However, this knowledge is not universal. There are still OEMs that have some presence in the government market that may not understand that GWACs, once awarded, are not limited to the products and services the contractor originally brought to the table.
This was brought home to me during a meeting I had at NITAAC with a Fortune 500 company that was looking to expand its contractual presence in the market. This company had recently acquired a GSA Schedule but after meeting with industry experts, realized that they needed access to a broader array of contracts to be successful.
This situation is not unique. My office meets with OEMs regularly to discuss their needs. When possible, we try to match them with our contract holders for a win-win scenario.
Over the years our more successful contractors have found that partnering with other companies to expand their offerings in both products and services allows them to maximize the value of the contract and benefit the government customer – again, a win-win scenario.
During a recent training event with our contractors, we drove home the point that partnering is one path to growth. We have 212 contract holders across three GWACs, over half being small businesses. We want each of them to be successful and to have as many paths to helping the customer as possible.
My experience before coming to NITAAC was as deputy director of the Small Business Administration office in Boston, where I worked with hundreds of companies seeking to win government business. I learned then that one size does not fit all, that one approach may work for company A but not company B. Selecting the right contract was the key to the equation.
At NITAAC, we have three $20 billion GWACs at NITAAC awarded within the last five years: CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business, and CIO-CS. These contracts cover the gamut of federal IT products, services, and solutions. We have experienced phenomenal growth since award and expect that to continue.
Federal contracting dollars being spent through GWACs is growing. GWACs also have a much smaller pool of contractors than most comparable vehicles. More money and less competition can mean more company growth.
While our main concern is, and will remain, providing government customers with the best possible solutions to their challenges, at NITAAC we understand that a significant part of this equation involves the contractor, OEMs without contracts, the emerging technologies and services, and our ability to make certain these dots are connected when it will benefit our customer.
As the Program Director of The NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), Robert Coen sets the strategic vision for this NIH GWAC program, which consists of three Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) valued at $50 billion. These contract vehicles – CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS – enable any Federal Agency to quickly and easily procure information technology (IT) products, services and solutions in support of their agency missions. The goal of the NITAAC program is to be the preeminent “go-to” provider of quality IT products and services to the federal government, enabling agencies to accomplish their missions through the use of innovative government-wide acquisition contracts in an efficient and economical manner.
Mr. Coen directs a staff of 45 employees responsible for all aspects of the NITAAC GWAC Program: contracts administration, IT systems and support, customer service, contract holder relations, program outreach, business development and finance. He has extensive knowledge of federal contracting regulations and the acquisition process, and holds a Level 3 Federal Acquisition Certification (FAC-C) in Contracting from the Federal Acquisition Institute.
Mr. Coen has over 20 years of experience leading innovation in finance, business development and acquisition programs for the federal government. He is a 2012 ACT-IAC Partner, and serves on the Board of Advisors of the Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) and the National Contract Management Association. Mr. Coen earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Massachusetts.