Research Report

SEWP Works to Stay Ahead

Over the years, NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) has gone from just one of a number of government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs) to the top of the pile. It’s widely considered as one of best run IT-based contracts, if not the absolute best. It’s a go-to resource for many government agencies.

There was no discernible drop-off in agencies’ use of the contract as it evolved from SEWP IV to SEWP V. SEWP V was awarded in April 2015 and by the end of September that year had already booked $1.3 billion in business.

“Program manager Joanne Woytek runs an amazing team at the SEWP program office, it’s 100 percent customer focused and is online and available seven days a week,” says Carroll Genovese, program manager for the SEWP V contract at CDW-G, in explaining SEWP’s success.

The office provides a “soup-to-nuts” service to agency customers, he says, from help setting up initial requests for quotes (RFQs) to delivery tracking for each order placed on the contract. If there are only a couple of responses, it can send a “blast” to all of the contract holders asking them to assist with that request. “There’s also quite a large array of tools on the SEWP web portal they provide to make it as easy as possible for their customers to do business,” he says.

The program office also helps agencies with some of the broader implications of their procurements. There is language in the SEWP contract terms that makes it easier for agencies to assess supply chain risks, for example. There’s also a verification process to ensure that when a manufacturer claims it’s an authorized reseller, it is indeed.

That’s especially important for agencies such as the DoD, which is the biggest non-NASA user of SEWP. They have to ensure countries such as China, which must be presumed potentially hostile, aren’t slipping things into products provided through the contract that could help with such things as electronic espionage.

For contract holders, that level of service is equally important. Over the years, the SEWP program office has focused on trying to improve that part if its job. That shows up in such factors as response times needed for technology refreshes to items on the contract.

The contract terms give the SEWP program office 24 hours to turn around a request, but the actual response time is anything from a minute to a couple hours, says Genovese. Refreshing the product catalog “is almost as close to real time as you can get.”

That’s important for putting what he calls “fall fashions” on display for the agency customers. “It makes it very difficult for us to push things out otherwise,” he says. “SEWP has definitely answered this particular problem, and that makes it stand out from other, more antiquated contracts.”

The challenge, says Woytek, is ensuring this level of service continues into the future. The big increase in contract holders in SEWP V compared to the previous contract, and the stress that placed on the program performance and overall contract performance, could be cause for concern. Woytek says she could not be happier about the eventual result.

She expects SEWP V to hit $5 billion in total by the end of September 2016. “My only concern is making sure that, as we both grow in usage and in functionality, that we balance that growth with continued emphasis on assisting the government customer to get the best technology at the best possible price,” she says.