18F Blog: 18F and TTS Office of Acquisition award first assisted acquisition – HHS ACF TANF Data Reporting System

“When 18F and the Administration for Children & Families’ Office of Family Assistance (OFA) interviewed users of the over 20 year old data reporting system for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, we observed that the process was frustrating, both for the States, Tribes, and Territories (STTs) who report information through the system and for the OFA team who review the reports. STTs spent a considerable amount of time getting the data ready for submission: cleaning and formatting data, pulling together data from multiple sources, and internally collaborating on submission. OFA team members were also burdened with providing feedback manually via email. Now, OFA is on the path to a more streamlined, efficient submission experience for both the STTs and their own team, working with 18F to replace its legacy data reporting system through product management training, user research and an assisted acquisition…”

User research

“Over the last year, 18F conducted user research with OFA staff and the STT users that interact with the current system to better inform our procurement. We identified who uses the current system and how they navigate TANF data reporting. We learned, as noted above, that the legacy system required a high level of effort to submit data and that data validation could improve the speed and ease of reporting. We also prototyped alternative data entry and upload tools to uncover how the grantees collect the data for submission. We then evaluated the feasibility of these prototypes to reduce both product and procurement risk.  Our intent was to provide as much information to vendors as possible in the solicitation so vendors had enough information to submit strong proposals and so they would be able to build on that research after the contract was awarded.”

Assisted acquisition

“At the same time that we were doing research, 18F and the TTS Office of Acquisition were working with our OFA partner to award a contract to build a new user-centered TANF reporting system, using 18F’s assisted acquisition authority, which allows a contracting office to acquire goods and services on behalf of another federal agency.  We targeted the contract’s request for quotation (or RFQ) to small business software development companies on GSA Schedules IT 70 with experience in open source development and user research, to make sure that this team could deliver a great product centered around the STT and OFA’s needs.”

“We released the draft RFQ (in the form of a request for information or RFI) , so that we could understand vendors’ perspectives on the requirements, which vendors were interested and whether they understood user research, and received responses from 37 companies. This method of using RFI gives an opportunity to engage with vendors thoughtfully early.”

“After two rounds of RFIs, 18F and OFA evaluated the nine vendor submissions we received in response to the final RFQ. Our evaluation practice builds on 18F’s experience with the Agile BPA and acquisition consulting with other government agencies…” Read the full article here.

Source: 18f and TTS Office of Acquisition award first assisted acquisition – By Laura Gerhardt, Miatta Myers, Christine Bath, Selena Juneau-Vogel, and Brian Burns, December 17, 2020. 18F.

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