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01/25/2022 RFI Questions & Answers

Please see the latest answered questions that have been submitted for the Request For Information (RFI) issued December 9th by the U.S. General Services Administration’s e-Gov Travel Service for the upcoming E-gov Travel and Expense (ETS) Next Generation solution (ETSNext). RFI responses are due back to GSA by 11:00 AM. EST on Thursday, January 27, 2022. This is the third of three posts; the first tranunch of questions and answers were posted 1/14 and the second on 01/21 (see previous posts).

Please note, the questions and answers are also available on SAM.gov via the following links: 

47QMCB22N0007: https://sam.gov/opp/b4a435cea8a94621a45bdac932795538/view

47QMCB22N0007-541511: https://sam.gov/opp/16429a5043d64119bbf38ca9460ee040/view

47QMCB22N0007-561599: https://sam.gov/opp/c38a7603390446629c2968e52a98dbf3/view

Industry Question

Government Response

The reference to “either a single enterprise-wide, centrally delivered T&E solution or decentralized T&E service similar to ETS2”, along with references like ‘centralized and decentralized solutions and service models’ imply consideration of significantly different set of technologies, processes and resources than at present. What level of technology change or disruption is GSA interested in undertaking for this effort? (e.g. replace current systems with entirely new technologies, or prioritize leveraging legacy technologies, etc.)

The government is interested in hearing from industry on how a single, enterprise-wide, centrally delivered T&E Solution could be managed and delivered for the civilian federal agencies. Yes, the approaches are considerably different in how content and solution components could be offered by a solution provider, the resources necessary to manage the offering, and how the responsibilities between the solution provider, the ETSNext PMO, and the agencies would be addressed. The venn diagram on page 5 shows the vision of how the single, enterprise-wide, centrally delivered solution, common user experience and processes could be structured. We are seeking industry input on the best design and estimated (ROM) costs for accomplishing this in the federal market.

ETS2 requirements were developed between 2008 and 2010, the Solicitation was issued in 2011 and the ETS2 contracts were awarded in 2012. Since then, T&E technology has changed greatly and it is expected to undergo even further transformation by the time we transition to ETSNext. We want industry input on how best to position for the transformation over the full lifecycle of the ETSNext service and what the appropriate lifecycle duration for ETSNext should be.

The ETS2 contracts expire on June 3, 2027; when those contracts fully expire, those solutions and their related technology will no longer be available for use by the federal government.

The reference to “either a single enterprise-wide, centrally delivered T&E solution or decentralized T&E service similar to ETS2”, along with references like ‘centralized and decentralized solutions and service models’ imply consideration of significantly different set of technologies, processes and resources than at present. There are significant change management implications required when moving from ETS2 to any transformational alternative including potentially legal, legislative, governance, technical infrastructure, etc. elements. What sort of technical and non-technical professional services does GSA have in mind for this effort?

The government is aware of the significant change management implications required when transitioning from ETS2 to ETSNext. The government is looking for industry recommendations for what technical and non-technical services they view as necessary among the elements noted, e.g., legal, legislative, governance, technical infrastructure, etc.

Specifically, per Question 2., can an explanation or definition of “single-enterprise centralized solution or decentralized solution” be provided?

The purpose of this RFI is to shape what this means for the government. Our intent with a ‘single-enterprise, centralized solution’ is to replicate best practices of large global enterprises which includes characteristics such as centralized governance of common content, processes, solutions and customizations, while still enabling agency configurability within certain parameters and coordinated and aligned with best practices working with experts in travel and expense management. It will also incorporate a centralized data strategy that a) drives consistent application of government-wide T&E policies, b) easier regulatory reporting, clean extracts, and user friendly analytical tools, and c) enables additional world-class services such as duty of care, auditing, like-for-like fare/rate reshopping, and unused ticket management.

Conversely, a decentralized solution would be similar to what we have today where there are centrally acquired services, but using the baselined FIBF standards. Agencies would continue to issue separate task orders with the solution provider(s), and manage configurations and customizations independently with minimal governance or coordination.

Can some examples of centralized and decentralized aspects be provided?

Centralized aspects could include configuration and content management of the solution utilizing the appropriate governance structure to ensure that configurations are centrally managed by experts in travel and expense management. Any approved deviations from the baseline configuration(s) would be documented and appropriately managed to ensure no issues were released into the solution. Under a centralized solution, agencies may still be responsible for administering certain aspects of the solution including routing/approval chains and lines of accounting (LOA).

In a decentralized solution the agencies would continue to manage the configuration of the solution(s) with a limited governance structure in place to ensure that the Travel and Expense Business Standards were implemented and maintained. The agencies would separately manage configurations and customizations. User experiences and data services would vary more significantly in this model.

Per Question 3. and specifically pertaining to “future policies or requirements that the Government can revise or restructure in order to help drive the solution more toward commercial standards and increase competition and innovation”, what is the time frame is GSA considering for these various changes?

Using updated industry input from our market research, these changes can take up to the release of a potential solicitation. Our goal is to have new policy content coordinated with the appropriate government-wide policy organizations and drafted for agency and industry coordination and feedback along with future solicitation(s) for ETSNext, and finalize government-wide Travel and Expense policies and related standard baselines upon award.

Per Question 9. and specifically pertaining to interests in “New Distribution Capability (NDC), Artificial Intelligence Auditing Capabilities, Virtual Payment Methods, Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities”, does GSA have a previously defined priority or stated position of interest in these or other opportunities for program improvement?

Our priority is to be able to take advantage of both current changes in technology that are not currently available in ETS2, and be positioned to take advantage of technology that will become available in the next several years, during the acquisition process, and during the life of the ETSNext solution. Being able to more effectively replace or enhance components of the solution via API integrations is the direction we see the industry moving and are interested in RFI responses that help us assess the feasibility and optimal operating model for achieving this in the government market.

One example area of interest is the use of Virtual Payment Methods, in support of the options available in the GSA SmartPay 3 program.

Per Question 10. and specifically pertaining to timelines, extensive transformation and/or accelerated change has resource implications for GSA and agency resources. What assumptions for GSA and agency resources should be made?

We are looking for the RFI responses to inform our needs in this area and establish those resource dependencies. The vision diagram on page 5 shows our view of potential allocation of responsibilities, but this will be shaped further based on industry input. It can be assumed there will be core teams of experts assigned to the effort at both the government-wide and within each agency, but the specific levels of effort are to be determined based on RFI response recommendations, and final decisions on future state model and requirements.

Per Question 10. and specifically pertaining to agencies, what assumptions should be made for the agencies’ interest and the extent of their participation in implementation of a new solution?

Since ETS is required by the Federal Travel Regulation to be used by civilian agencies, it is expected that the interest will be very high as it relates to transition regardless of whether it is a centralized or decentralized solution. The extent of their participation and types of support needed by agencies could vary, and is to be determined based on RFI response input on what is needed. In either model, our office will work with each agency to make sure they have a dedicated transition team and clear roles and responsibilities are defined, and a transition plan is agreed to with their leadership, our office, and future solution providers.

The ETSNext PMO will establish supporting operations, such as transition planning workgroups and materials e.g. joint transition planning sessions, draft transition schedules, review of the awarded solution(s), and the establishment of the appropriate governance structure.

 

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ETSNext community will be made up of industry Travel and Expense solution providers both existing contract holders and new entrants.

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