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category management

Using Category Management to Buy Human Capital Solutions

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In the May 2016 Public Manager article “Working Together, Working Better,” Peter Bonner explains that “category management enables the federal government to buy and manage its vast goods and services as a single enterprise—which can lead to big savings, better efficiencies, and improved performance.” As noted on the White House blog, the more agencies work together to leverage buying power, drive more consistent practices across agencies, share information, and reduce duplication, the better the results for American taxpayers. 

Enter the Human Capital and Training Solutions (or HCaTS). The result of a partnership between Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the General Services Administration (GSA), HCaTS is the first government-wide human capital solution to “buy-as-one” using category management. Specifically, HCaTS has signed with 109 vendors to provide tailored employee development, workforce development strategy, and organizational performance improvement services to all agencies. 

“Category management empowers agencies with the spending data and contract intelligence to make more effective buying decisions that better respond to an agency’s needs, leverage budget resources and benefit taxpayers,” said Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung. HCaTS is expected to save agencies 4 to 14 percent and reduce the number of contracts by 5 percent in its first year. 


According to the joint statement about the contact awards, the HCaTS solution includes two multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity task order contract vehicles with an $11.5 billion ceiling. In addition, 72 unrestricted contracts were awarded under, and 37 contracts were set aside specifically for small businesses under the HCaTS SB vehicle.  The contracts have a five-year base ordering period with an option for another five years, plus an additional six-month option. There is also a five-year period attached for task order completion. 

GSA will be responsible for contract administration, while OPM will be responsible for HCaTS program management. “Partnering with OPM to award this strategically sourced initiative has been an excellent demonstration of interagency collaboration,” said GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth. “Together, we’re providing a solid acquisition solution using [the Federal Acquisition Service’s] acquisition expertise, married with OPM’s HR and training expertise, to deliver federal workers training and support they need while making sure agencies can save time and money.” 

“The HCaTS contracts allow federal agencies to not only take a highly efficient and innovative approach to their human capital and training requirements, but also to lean on OPM’s expertise in human capital and category management,” added Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert. “This contract vehicle makes it easier for agencies to procure the high-quality human capital support they need to meet their mission requirements efficiently and effectively.”

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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