The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provides contracts to U.S. Agencies for telecommunications and information technology. The newest set of services GSA facilitated are called Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). GSA recently completed a project to acquire these services for Agencies’ use for the next 15 years, valuing at $50B. The GSA used @RISK throughout the acquisition project, which was performed on-time and on-budget. @RISK helped GSA executives understand the impacts of their decisions on schedule and cost within the framework of quantitative risk management.
GSA provides contracts to U.S. Agencies for telecommunications and information technology services, with the newest set of contracts being Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS). EIS includes local, national and international voice and data services, optical services, wireless, satellite, security, cloud services, contact centers, building/campus networks, equipment and professional services.
The Hunt for Quality Contractors
In 2014 GSA began competitively acquiring EIS contracts, with the aim of providing government agencies EIS for up to 15 years for a total award value of $50B. A key goal was to award a robust set of contractors from which agencies could choose their services.
This EIS acquisition project was ambitious and complex, including hundreds of tasks performed over two years by teams of government staff and consultants. Team members included acquisition specialists, contracting officers, engineers, business operations professionals, and financial analysts. Moreover, the project depended on each bidding contractor understanding the requirements and developing responsive proposals.
@RISK Clarifies Consequences
To help manage the project, the GSA EIS Acquisition project manager and his team used @RISK. “The software helped GSA executives understand the quantitative risk of their decisions impacting both the cost and schedule of the project,” said the program manager.
Using Microsoft Project, the program manager and his team developed the schedule and resource loading in the traditional way and aligned with an Earned Value Management (EVM) approach to project management.
Once the schedule and resource loading was completed, the team imported the project into @RISK. The project management team then worked with the task teams to choose the probability distributions and parameters for each meaningful task. They next correlated the tasks, and then assigned probabilities to branches in the project. The team leadership then created a probabilistic calendar for resource availability.
Finally, the teams developed a thorough risk register of events that could impact schedule, and identified the tasks within the project that could be impacted by the risk events. GSA executives provided the required confidence level.
@RISK performed Monte Carlo simulations, usually with 5000 iterations. “The performance of @RISK was so fast and steady that we were able to perform the simulations in real time with GSA executives,” reported the program manager. “This allowed senior executives to see the Probability Distribution Function (PDF) of a milestone achievement based upon their decisions regarding scheduling tasks and resources, and escalating actions on solutions.”
By July of 2017, GSA had achieved this goal both on time and on budget, making 10 EIS awards.
“The initial @RISK simulations help set realistic expectations for milestone achievement,” explained the program manager, “and periodic simulations helped the team leadership and GSA executives understand where the risks were and provided an opportunity to test alternative mitigation strategies.”
Senior decision makers were also pleased with @RISK. “Project simulation enabled us to provide the agencies firm schedules,” reported one senior executive. “They could then stage their resources in a timely way to select their EIS vendor to obtain the earliest and greatest possible savings to the tax payer.”
Published: Dec. 17, 2021
Updated: Sept. 1, 2023
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