The Case for 18F: Why Federal IT Procurement, Contracting Need to Change

Only a couple years old now and the federal digital consultancy 18F has a lot to deal with.

The innovation group, which helps agencies build, buy and share modern tech, is under fire from sources within and outside of government. Externally 18F is defending itself from IT lobbyists, representing companies like IBM, Deloitte, Cisco Systems and others, that allege 18F is hindering revenues as a competing government tech provider — a message they shared at a recent hearing evaluating 18F’s effectiveness. Internally the group has met resistance from CIOs unsure of its private-sector development practices, and within the General Services Administration (GSA), 18F’s parent agency, insiders say that the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) that funds 18F is actively working to terminate the group.
The sources report that 18F’s procurement work to break down IT contracts into smaller pieces has compelled FAS to act. They allege that FAS leadership fears shorter-term IT contracts at more competitive prices would decrease the revenues the organization receives from agencies via contract service fees and other FAS procurement vehicles.

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