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KRT Impact Blog

Evolution of Contract Vehicles in Federal IT: TIPSS

One of the “truths” in Federal IT contracting is the increasing importance of multiple award contracting vehicles. The usage and prominence of contracting vehicles as a preferred method for buying information technology solutions, whether it is hardware or software, has been increasing year after year. Now that several generations of evolution have taken place for of thesecontracts, I thought it would be interesting compare them to their predecessors.

For this blog, I thought I would investigate one that I am intimately familiar with and see what has happened to the contract since it was awarded. I’m taking a look at the Internal Revenue Services’ (IRS) Total Information Processing Support Service-4 (TIPSS-4) contract. I was at the Pre-solicitation conference for TIPSS-4 in early 2009 and at the time, the contract was one of the “must-win” acquisitions for many vendors that wanted a significant role in the IRS’s IT efforts.  

TIPSS-4 was the follow-on contract to the highly utilized TIPSS-3 contract vehicle which, along with the IRS Prime contract (held by Computer Sciences Corporation), was the avenue that much of the IT work for the multi-billion dollar IRS Business Systems Modernization (BSM)  was procured through. It has been about a year and a half from the award date of TIPSS-4, and I was curious where the contract was today. Was it the windfall that many contractors had hoped for?

Quick overview of the two contract vehicles:

For comparison, below is the growth of TIPSS-3 since it was awarded (total spending on the contract was about $2.7B)

TIPSS-4 heavily increased its focus on ensuring contractor compliance with process-based methodologies such as the Earned Value Management System (EVMS) and the Capabilities Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) in regards to TIPSS-3.  So with a much higher ceiling, and a longer period of performance to its predecessor how much has the contract been used since it was a awarded a year and a half ago?

According to my research, since the contracts were awarded in January 2011 theTIPSS-4 ITS contract has reported spending of approximately $67M, which appears to be a major decline from the previous contracts burn rate. On a surface level this contract is not looking to be the major windfall that contractors were expecting.

Could the cause be a general slowdown in IT spending by the IRS? Is the IRS switching to different contracting options? (Examples include Unisys’s $139M IRS cloud service win through GSA’s Alliant contract – Source – Washington Technology: Unisys wins $139M IRS private cloud contract). Is there a slow-down in the IRS Business Modernization program that was a driver of much of the IRS’s previous IT spending? Are the TIPSS-4 small business contracts consuming a big chunk of the spending?

All of the above questions warrant much further investigation, but from a spending perspective one can say that the pattern of how IT is being bought at the IRS is in the process of shifting.

Notes:

For any questions or clarifications on any of the information provided, please contact us

If there is interest I will do a separate look at the TIPSS-4 Small business awards in that covers cyber security and Management Business Operation Support Services (MBOSS)

Contract spending data is sourced from the Federal Procurement Data System