When it comes to contracting, the Department of Defense (DoD) tends to run its own show with soliciting, awarding, and managing the contracts awarded under its $700 billion+ annual budget.

But just recently it hooked up with the government’s civilian contracting authority, the General Services Administration (GSA), on a couple of hefty deals: DoD’s $7.8 billion Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) contract and the Air Force’s $5.5 billion Second Generation Information Technology (2GIT) contract.

DoD, along with the Defense Information Systems Agency, moved the back-office DEOS cloud computing contract to GSA’s IT Schedule 70, a procurement contract and marketplace that offers products and services from more than 5,000 already-vetted vendors. The Air Force, saying it wants a better selection of products and improved supply chain management, turned to GSA for 2GIT, its replacement for the Network-Centric Solutions 2 (NETCENTS-2) contract.

The moves aren’t entirely unheard of. Last year, for instance, the Air Force went through GSA to award its $1 billion Cloud Hosted Enterprise Services contract. The service in August also agreed to work with GSA in fiscal 2020 on recompetes of the Air Force’s Applications Services contract, which will run until March 2022, and the Network Operations and Infrastructure Solutions contract, which expires in May 2022; Network Operations & Infrastructure Solutions (Small Business Companion), which expires in April 2022; and Network Operations and Infrastructure Solutions full and open contract, which runs until May 2022. DoD has also turned to GSA for contracting at times in the past.

But the agreements are somewhat out of the ordinary, considering DoD’s usual approach to handling its own contracting. In the recent cases, DoD officials said letting GSA handle the contract allows its DEOS team to focus instead on work more closely related to DoD’s mission. The Air Force, meanwhile, said lesson learned during NETCENTS prompted it to turn to GSA for a more comprehensive approach for 2GIT.

The first-generation blanket purchase agreements took a segmented approach with multiple agreements serving individual groups. “This approach was only moderately successful,” according to GSA’s draft Request for Quotation. “Experience has indicated that customers are looking for a single source for all of their commodity needs to provide a total solution.” The Air Force sees GSA’s broad range of offerings and experience in administering contracts as an advantage with commodity buys.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.