Research Report

SEWP V Goes Online for Ease-of-Use

In an effort to make things as easy as possible for both contractors and government customers, for years the SEWP program office has looked at developing ways it can put various tools online. Many of those have been successful, though some still resist an easy answer.

One thing SEWP program manager Joanne Woytek has been eyeing for some time is a way for agencies to conduct market research on various proposed acquisitions. This would help them sort out their best options before issuing a request for quotations.

Before SEWP V, the program office had been able to do market research upon request, but the obvious solution was to have a way for customers to go through the SEWP web site to do that on their own. And now they can.

SEWP V’s online tools let users make multiple searches across the various SEWP contracts and combine the results in a catalog view of products. It’s designed to meet the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 10 that requires appropriate market research, depending on the size and complexity of the acquisition.

There’s another on-line feature that lets users send an RFQ directly to SEWP V contract holders. That capability is part of the SEWP program office goal of trying to enable as much direct interaction between buyers and sellers as possible, by-passing the program office which would otherwise have to act as a go-between.

SEWP’s Quick RFI Tool and Quote Request Tool also help buyers comply with the FAR’s Fair Opportunity requirement, which requires all contractors in specific groups to be given a fair chance to be considered for orders over $3,000. The Quote Request Tool takes the effort out of ensuring no one is left out by automatically including all vendors within a certain group in the RFQ/Search process. The tool will email an RFQ to all the various vendors, with options for them to reply.

One capability Woytek has been anxious to provide is a way for buyers track their own orders online. That’s important for agency planning and budgetary purposes. The SEWP program office has been able to do that, but only in the broadest sense of how much they’ve done each year.

Under SEWP V, the intent has been to provide more granular tracking of what was bought and sold, upon agency request. That kind of tracking has also come up as a part of SEWP V’s new focus on strategic sourcing. In 2017, Woytek says the SEWP program office will provide an interactive tool CIOs can use to track their agency’s own IT purchases.

“The SEWP Web site is very user friendly for customers,” says Carroll Genovese, program manager for the SEWP V contract at CDW-G. “There’s quite a large array of tools they give to customers to make sure things are as easy as possible for them.”

Shifting as much of the capability over to SEWP V users themselves is aimed at making it simpler and quicker for them to get the information they need to complete their purchases in both a timely and effective way. The SEWP program office can do many of these things itself and it has in the past, because it’s a request-based organization. But that only slows things down.

To provide that kind of detailed product tracking was also a reason open market Contract Line Item Numbers (CLINs) were eliminated in SEWP V. If you’re going to track purchases, you need to know what that purchase includes. You don’t necessarily know that on the open market. CLINs are now available only through SEWP contract holders.