Welcome to Open Learning Paths

This is an experiment in open, social learning that focuses on the federal acquisition system. After a successful and informative spring pilot, we will be curating resources and activities to assist federal & public sector professionals understand the acquisition system and achieve better outcomes.

We are also pleased to announce the introduction of our second learning path to increase competency in cost & price analysis. Participants who complete activities along this path will distinguish cost from price analysis, learn and apply analysis techniques, and understand the should-cost review.


GSA is considering the addition of a unified special item number (SIN) for Cloud Computing Services and posted an RFI to FBO.gov on July 9, 2014 to collect information from industry and stakeholders. The purpose of the unified SIN is to “improve the way that GSA offers cloud computing services through IT Schedule 70, increase visibility and access of cloud computing services to customer agencies, and to provide industry partners the opportunity to differentiate their cloud computing services from other IT related products and services.”

The goals of this RFI are to 1) gain feedback from industry and stakeholders on the proposed unified SIN and 2) better understand how schedule holders are selling cloud services via IT Schedule 70. Currently, commercial cloud services are being sold on Schedule 70 through several different SINs, but GSA believes the “cloud computing services market is sufficiently mature to offer differentiated and vetted cloud computing services through a single SIN.”

What I thought was cool about this RFI is that it poses questions three questions to federal buyers, to collect their feedback and insights on the acquisition of cloud-enabled IT services:

1. How does your agency typically procure cloud services? For example, what contract vehicles are used, and what contract types?
2. Does your government organization expect that this proposed SIN will improve the transparency and ease of use of acquiring cloud services through IT Schedule 70?
3. Do you have any input to the questions posed to industry in Section C?

It would be awesome to use the “power of the path” to crowdsource a high-quality, well-informed response to these three questions. I have created a Google Doc to coordinate the collection of information from anyone who would like to engage. As with all Learning Path activities, practitioners can earn CLPs for their participation (see the Activity Log for details on how to submit your work for CLPs).

Responses to the RFI are due on August 6th at 4pm, so there is plenty of time to add value  to GSA’s effort while earning CLPs for contributing to open learning!

Hacking Federal Procurement of Cloud Services

On Thursday, June 26, ASI Government and Amazon Web Services (AWS) facilitated a unique workshop at the AWS Government, Education, and Nonprofits Symposium. The event, Hacking Federal Procurement of Cloud Services, was part of ASI’s latest innovation in social and informal learning, the cloud computing learning path.

The session was attended by over 30 people including representatives from the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The purpose of the event was to harness the collective intelligence and diverse perspectives of participants from industry & government to create solutions to challenges inherent to acquiring cloud-enabled IT services. Specifically, the hackathon focused on three primary challenges:

  1. Improving understanding of cloud-enabled IT by writing requirements in plain language,
  2. Leveraging the full flexibility of the Federal Acquisition Regulation to devise acquisition strategies that enable agencies to take advantage of cloud benefits, and
  3. Creating evaluation methodologies and service level agreements to maximize the return on investment in cloud-enabled IT.

To facilitate the event, ASI and AWS developed two case studies based on real federal scope statements, the first for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and the second for Desktop-as-a-Service (DTaaS). Two groups worked on each case study, providing an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the diversity in decision-making and possible solutions for acquiring cloud-enabled IT services. Participants were challenged to simplify the scope statements using guidance from FAR Part 11 by rewriting them with plain language, prior to tackling tougher challenges like developing an acquisition strategy and evaluation methodology.

As with all activities on our open learning paths, findings were captured in real time on our Google Drive platform. Our hope is that acquisition professionals will utilize these findings for their own acquisition issues, and contribute their findings back to the open repository as we continue to curate the cloud computing learning path. In this manner, we can work together to preserve, promote, and expand our knowledge of acquiring cloud-enabled IT services while earning Continuous Learning Points for our efforts.

Case Studies for Cloud Hackathon

We have version one of our case studies posted to the Google Drive as we prepare for tomorrow’s hackathon.

The case studies deal with Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Desktop-as-a-Service, an emerging cloud area that enables desktop virtualization for an enterprise. Our goal during the hackathon will be to work through an acquisition strategy for each scope statement while populating the Open SLA & Risk Registries. Additional challenges are described in the below slideshare.

We will be using laptops during the session, so updates will be made in real time. For those interested in the progression but unable to attend the event, you can literally watch us hack through the issues and submit our content on the Google Drive.

To support remote/virtual learning, we also uploaded each case study to NewsGenius, a site that allows anyone to annotate and provide feedback. Click here for the IaaS Case Study and here for the DTaaS Case Study.

There is still time to register for this inaugural hackathon session, and we look forward to making progress together while earning CLPs for our applied learning.


The Cloud Buyer’s Guide, from the TechAmerica Foundation

Join us on Wednesday, June 25th at 10:30am for a review and analysis of TechAmerica Foundation’s Cloud Buyer’s Guide. Providing their thoughts and insights will be two very special guests, Keith Trippie and Yogesh Khanna. Together, Keith and Yogesh bring significant industry and federal cloud experience, so participants will enjoy this interactive dialogue and have a chance to ask their own questions.

Federal participants will earn 1 CLP for attending this event. We will also provide information that will assist anyone planning to attend the acquisition hackathon session on June 26th at Amazon Web Service’s Government, Education, and Nonprofits Symposium.

Click here to register for the Buyer’s Guide webcast.

Click here to register for the hackathon.

Its not too late!

Learn, Earn & Hack the Cloud: Three Free & Open Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming cloud learning path events:

  • Thursday, June 19, 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Eastern) – Lunch & Learn Webinar: Cloud Hackathon Preview
  • Wednesday, June 25, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) – Webinar:  A Review of the Cloud Buyer’s Guide for Government
  • Thursday, June 26, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Eastern) – Cloud Computing Hackathon Event 

Lunch & Learn Webinar: Cloud Hackathon Preview

Thursday, June 19 – 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Eastern) Click here to register!

Join us for a preview of the upcoming Cloud Computing Hackathon event on June 26 hosted by ASI Government and Amazon Web Services.  This webinar will provide an overview of the goals for the hackathon and how you can participate in this unique, practical application event.

Webinar: A Review of the Cloud Buyer’s Guide for Government

Wednesday, June 25 – 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (Eastern)  Click here to register!

Join us for a special webinar in partnership with the TechAmerica Foundation, which recently published its Cloud Buyer’s Guide for Government to assist acquisition professionals in acquiring cloud-enabled IT services.  We will provide an overview of the guide and a review of the acquisition principles that we have discussed through our Advisory and webinar research.  Joining us will be two special guest presenters:

  • Keith Trippie, former Executive Director for the Department of Homeland Security’s Enterprise System Development Office and current CEO of the Trippie Group, LLC
  • Yogesh Khanna, Chief Technology Officer for CSC’s North American Public Sector and TechAmerica’s Cloud Committee Chair

Our guest presenters bring practical and operational experience in federal cloud computing, so you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from them.  Participants will earn one continuous learning point (CLP) for attending.

Cloud Computing Hackathon Event

Thursday, June 26 – 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Eastern)  Click here to register!

Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this unique, practical application event hosted by ASI Government and Amazon Web Services (AWS) at the AWS Government, Education, and Nonprofits Symposium in Washington, DC.  The goal of the hackathon is to take the challenges identified around acquiring cloud-enabled IT services and solve them at this in-person workshop.  The event is complimentary and space is limited, so reserve your spot today by emailing Frank McNally at fmcnally@asigovt.com and registering via the link above.  Participants will earn four CLPs for attending.

The Cloud Acquisition Dictionary

Terms of art don’t make business easier. They can be misused and lead to confusion, or wielded for intimidation and deceit. Plus they annoy me sometimes. So I was glad to learn that NYU’s Governance Lab (@TheGovLab) created the Tech-Policy Dictionary, a project to “break down the barriers between tech and policy so we can all better understand each other.”

It crowdsources shared knowledge to build consensus on technical terms and jargon. Words like “RFP” and “solicitation.”

I loved the idea so much, I posted a companion Cloud Acquisition Dictionary. Anyone may contribute definitions for cloud-related terms to this worksheet I put on Google Drive. If we get enough interest, we can move this from a Drive document to a real product. In fact, the Gov Lab put their code on GitHub and are encouraging that others use it to build-out the Tech-Policy Dictionary.

If you are a CLP-earner, I’ll award half a CLP for every 5 contributions you make.


The Open Risk Registry

Our goal is to create a Risk Registry of pitfalls and issues that impact a cloud acquisition. Building a risk  registry is pretty simple, but populating it with useful information requires the power of the crowd and input from practitioners who have navigated the acquisition channels.

Check it out and add your contributions – CLPs are available (see the Activity Tracker in the Google Drive).


Welcome to Open Learning Paths!

Open Learning Paths are an alternative to generalist training. They enable practitioners to develop skills without taking time away from the job.

This site will serve as an open collaboration through sharing and applying knowledge. Participants may earn continuous learning points (CLPs) for completing self-directed and virtual collaboration events.

Participants are responsible for taking an active role in designing the curriculum. As questions are identified they will be co-defined by the community. This process advances our collective wisdom and provides more time to address complex issues.
We look forward to learning with you!