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GSA Issues White Paper on Modular Contracting

GSA #9428

July 25, 1997
Contact: Bill Bearden (202) 501-1231
or Lawrence Wolfe (202) 501-0202

The U.S. General Services Administration today issued an acquisition white paper providing information, guidance, and recommendations for applying modular contracting to major information technology system development projects and program management.

This contracting approach encourages buying major systems in easy-to-manage, discrete increments, or modules, and provides for the delivery, implementation, and testing of those systems. While purchasing may be done by single or multiple procurements, the intent is to ensure the government is not obligated to purchase more than one module at a time. This should help balance the government's need for fast access to rapidly changing technology with stability in program management, contract performance and risk management.

"Modular contracting is an outcome of the government's efforts to streamline IT acquisition processes and procedures," said Laurence Wolfe, acting deputy associate administrator for Information Technology in GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy. Wolfe said that the modular contracting approach is a very useful tool for helping agencies improve their major systems acquisitions and program management.

The Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 and Executive Order 13011 directs using modular contracting to the maximum extent practicable. GSA's white paper describes how major IT system buys can be divided into several smaller modules, that:

are easier to manage individually than would be one comprehensive acquisition;
address complex IT objectives incrementally to enhance the likelihood of achieving workable solutions for attainment of those objectives; provide for delivery, implementation, and testing of workable systems or solutions in discrete increments, each of which comprises a system or solution that is not dependent on any subsequent increment in order to perform its principle functions; provide an opportunity for subsequent increments of the acquisition to take full advantage of any evolution in technology or needs that occur during conduct of the earlier increments.

An executive summary is on the Internet at GSA's IT Policy OnRamp located at: by clicking on "Acquisition White Papers." You can get complete copies of the white paper from GSA's Strategic IT Analysis Division by calling John Clark at (202) 501-4362 or Dave Middledorf at (202) 501-1551.

Wolfe said that GSA is seeking agency and industry comments on the white paper and will be developing an acquisition guide that will incorporate the comments and provide more detailed assistance, guidance, and best practices about modular contracting.

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Last Reviewed 2010-04-30