With this year’s federal buying season expected to see agencies spend around $630 billion, there’s a lot of buying to be done in the next six weeks. And, there’s much work to be done to support agencies in their drive towards digital transformation and their pandemic-driven interest in building an agile government.
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If there was one thing that federal agencies learned in 2020, it was that while upgrading technology is important to continue to deliver on the mission, investing in technology that empowers agility – the ability to scale up and down quickly – to support the unexpected should be a guiding principle in purchasing decisions. While the pandemic highlighted the importance of being able to scale up technology and processes so agencies could deliver on mission-critical activities, investing in agility will empower agencies to deliver over the long-term on an increasingly complex mission as well.
According to Oracle’s, David Knox, Group Vice President, Public Sector Sales Consulting, what this means in terms of federal buying season is that agencies need to really make the most of the additional budget dollars available to them in this year. “It’s no longer sufficient to buy stacks of chairs to avoid losing budget,” he shared. “Agencies need to capture the moment – and the dollars – to invest strategically in tools and technology that will empower agility.”
For Knox, the key to making successful investments during the highly pressured federal buying season is to look to certifications and schedules. “The federal government has invested in streamlining the purchasing process and taking on some of the lift of doing due diligence for agencies in several different ways,” he shared. “Purchasing vehicles like GSA schedules and certifications like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) help agencies make informed decisions about technology investments.”
For example, FedRAMP enables agencies to reduce security risk by creating a common set of standards that deliver a consistent security rating for solutions as well as offering a collaborative body of knowledge and experience. “In short,” Knox said, “FedRAMP mitigates chaos and risk. Everyone knows what ‘FedRAMP High’ means and the collective knowledge created against these standards is much better than a patchwork of anecdotal experience based on vastly different standards.”
Similarly, buying solutions using the GSA schedule reduces inefficiencies and poor outcomes by providing consistency. “Obviously agencies can realize significant cost savings by buying solutions from a GSA schedule because of the power of group purchasing,” noted Knox. “However, the value of buying from a GSA schedule goes beyond that. It provides a birds-eye view to apply consistency, which is vital to efficiency.”
With this year’s federal buying season being largely virtual, there are sure to be some unique situations that arise. However, when agencies turn to solutions that have passed the rigors of FedRAMP certification or getting on the GSA schedule they can mitigate not only risk, but also ensure that critical consistency is built-in from the moment the contract is signed.
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