For TIPSS-2, easier does it

'We decided we will not have a five-inch binder on the TIPPS contracting management plan.'

'Sara Schroerlucke, chief of business development and management

Henrik G. DeGyor

When Sara Schroerlucke joined the Treasury Department in July 1999, the Treasury Information Processing Support Services contract was set to expire in a year.

The contract provided data processing support services to Treasury and its agencies, but it 'did not have a good reputation,' she said.

But Treasury has turned that reputation around with a follow-on contract, TIPPS-2. The number of task orders awarded for the first TIPPS during its five-year duration was 420. But the department has already awarded 260 task orders since TIPPS-2 went into effect in 2000.

In addition to the low opinion some Treasury officials had of TIPPS, others didn't even know how to use the contract, Schroerlucke said.

'There were inconsistent levels of customer support, and many customers did not want to use TIPPS,' she said.

And as chief of Treasury's TIPPS Branch and its Business Development and Management Area, Schroerlucke knew she needed an effective management plan for TIPPS-2.

The follow-on has 18 contractors and 150 subcontractors that provide information systems, telecommunications support, management and operational support services. It ends in 2005.

Schroerlucke decided that to provide as much information as easily as possible to customers, the department would use the Web.

'We decided we will not have a five-inch binder on the TIPPS contracting management plan,' she said.

The next step was to develop a marketing plan to meet the goal of increasing TIPSS use by 20 percent.

Schroerlucke's office based the plan on customer service and a clear explanation of what the contract offers.

'We wanted to create acceptance of the program by not just creating new customer relationships, but also keeping them,' Schroerlucke said.

Teams of technology, acquisitions and contracting officers went to Treasury agencies to tell prospective customers about the contracts.

'What we do is something like car sales,' Schroerlucke said. 'We not only do sales but also follow up with our customers.'

She then researched best practices conducted for similar programs at other departments.
For instance, Schroerlucke was impressed with the General Services Administration's aggressive marketing.

'They have turned around so much in the last five years or so in their marketing strategy,' she said. 'Look at their ads and schedules.'

Schroerlucke came across a GSA booklet that clearly described various contracts and how the agency could meet its customers' needs.

'It was so clever,' Schroerlucke said. 'It was fun and simple and easy to read. People want it easy.'

The CIO-SP contract, run by the National Institutes of Health, which provides hardware, software, systems and IT services within NIH and other agencies, had a marketing strategy that Treasury emulated for TIPPS, she said.

In examining the Transportation Department's Value Added Niche IT Services contract, run by the Transportation Administration Service Center, Schroerlucke discovered ways to provide information to potential customers via the Web.

'They have done a very good job of streamlining the process and putting stuff out there on the Web,' she said.

The suggestions from other agencies have helped improve TIPPS-2 over its predecessor, Schroerlucke said.

'Success to us is customer satisfaction,' she said. 'We have to be consistent with providing customer satisfaction throughout the organization. We have to continuously look at improving processes and listening to customers.'

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