Where’s the transparency, GSA?

Let me get back on my soapbox for a minute. This is reason number 347 why GSA needs to make access to RFQs and RFIs on the schedules available for everyone to see.

GSA, on behalf of the Defense Information Systems Agency, made a $296 million award for email-as-a-service to Dell Federal. GSA made the award to Dell June 19.

This award is good news. It’s the largest task order ever on the email-as-a-service blanket purchase agreement. It’s a huge commitment by DISA to move Defense Department agencies to the cloud.

Here’s the long-standing frustration with the schedules: No one but the 15 vendors, DISA and GSA know about the good news, and trying to get a copy of the RFQ is painfully difficult.

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The Air Force sent out a release in late June saying DISA awarded a contract to Dell to provide Microsoft 365 cloud services under Collaboration Pathfinder, which includes significantly improved email, instant messaging, desktop voice/video communications, productivity and user storage capabilities.

But without the RFQ, it’s unclear whether this is related to the EaaS award or if it was another award to Dell Federal for cloud services.

Oh, and I’d contact Dell Federal, but finding a press person on its website is nearly impossible, but that’s a whole other soapbox for another time.

As for the RFQ, one GSA source told me it is a public document, but the customer, in this case DISA, didn’t want the information out.

Well, DISA may not want it out, but they are spending public money and contract awards, generally speaking, are public information, so I’m not sure they have a right to say the RFQ shouldn’t be made public.

GSA’s Mary Davie and FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe said they agreed that anyone should have access to view e-Buy solicitations, RFIs and awards. Sharpe told me in July that he expects e-Buy Open to be available in the fall to anyone and everyone.

While that’s good news, this latest situation only reinforces why GSA must make e-Buy open to everyone and meet their commitment of getting it done by the fall.

The lack of transparency into GSA schedules is mindboggling. There is no reason to restrict access to these public documents. The government releases the same information every day on FedBizOpps.gov — another soapbox topic for another day about how bad that site continues to be— and no one complains or worries about it.

The schedules should be no different.

This post is part of Jason Miller’s Inside the Reporter’s Notebook feature. Read more from this edition of Jason’s Notebook.