The General Services Administration may add a contract program that would allow agencies to buy from a menu of technology products, marketing services and technical assistance for running contests. An April White House memo required that GSA “as expeditiously as possible” craft a contract vehicle for purchasing such goods.
GSA this week released a request for information from companies to get a sense of how many eligible federal contractors possess the technology or advertising expertise to pull off successful online competitions.
Officials also are contemplating the possibility of offering agencies purchasing options through the Multiple Award Schedules program, the government’s largest interagency contracting initiative, according to the RFI.
The purpose of the RFI is to identify federal contractors that have contest experience or are interested in teaming with companies that do — and to help non-traditional vendors with contest know-how become eligible for government contract programs, known as Schedules.
The earlier White House memo provided agencies with guidance on legally granting prizes to individuals, organizations and companies as incentives for developing solutions to agency problems. Different than contracts, so-called challenges aim to inspire innovation in government, do not always carry a cash prize and only reward people when their ideas produce results.
GSA already has contracted with the New York-based Web services firm ChallengePost to offer agencies a basic online app for coordinating contests.
But more sophisticated tools and talent may sometimes be necessary to tailor contests to agencies’ unique missions and problems. GSA is looking for products that, among other things, can be ordered online, on-demand – a business model called cloud computing; create an online community specific to each challenge; allow entrants to submit video, prototypes, links, images, software programs and other attachments; and enable Internet users to see such entries without registering on the website.
As for human help, GSA is seeking individuals or companies that can work with agency leaders to identify problems that might be best solved through prizes; conduct marketing campaigns to attract participants; and establish judging criteria.
This week’s RFI contains a list of optional questions that provide insights into the obstacles the government may confront in administering prizes:
For companies on schedule with experience in this area, do you think agencies are readily able to determine your experience in this area? What might make it easier for agencies to determine and purchase your products and/or services in this area?For companies on schedule without experience in this area, what do you see as the benefits and disadvantages of teaming with a company with that experience? How would you find that company? Will the proposed Industry Day help you find such companies? How might the government encourage or enable teaming?. . .
If you are not on a Schedule, what, if any, do you think are the biggest obstacles to getting on Schedule (knowledge, desire, cost, etc)?
Do you have other ideas on how GSA could make it easier for agencies to acquire products and services related to identifying, designing, and implementing challenges and prizes?
An Aug. 12 industry day will provide all parties with more details on the steps GSA will take to acquire the best prize tools and assistance.
— By Aliya Sternstein – 07/20/10 – NextGov.com