General Services Administration - Erin VanDagna and Joline McDonald
General Services Administration
17 Year Veteran of GSA
SP1 and SP2 Transition
General Services Administration
15 Year Veteran of GSA
GSA’s Center for Charge Card Management Branch Chief, Erin VanDagna and Lead Business Management Specialist, Joline McDonald, share their past experiences with the GSA SmartPay transition process, best practices and lessons learned. Their unique perspective gives agencies insight into what to expect and how to prepare for the next transition.
What is your role with the GSA SmartPay program (A/OPC, AO, etc.)?
Both Erin and Joline work in the GSA SmartPay program management office, assisting customer agencies with all aspects of their GSA SmartPay program.
How long have you worked with the GSA SmartPay program? Have you been involved in previous GSA SmartPay transitions (For Example: SP1, SP2)?
Erin officially started on the GSA SmartPay program back in 2000, near the beginning of GSA SmartPay 1. In 2004, she went to work on GSA Advantage and a few other GSA programs. In 2007, she returned to the GSA SmartPay program just in time for the award and transition to GSA SmartPay 2.
Joline started working on the GSA SmartPay program in 2004. She left near the end of the SP2 transition process and worked for DoD for a year and a half before coming back to the program in 2009.
Describe some of your responsibilities related to past GSA SmartPay transitions.
Erin: In 2000, much of my time was focused on work groups and the development of bank EAS. For the GSA SmartPay 2 transition, I was responsible for SP2 communications, publications updates, transition tracking and overseeing the agency task order awards.
Joline: I was a Contracting Officer for GSA SmartPay during the SP2 transition. I completed market research, developed draft and final GSA SmartPay 2 Master Contract documents, developed all acquisition documents for SP2 (acquisition plan, source selection plan, etc), lead the technical evaluation for the SP2 master contract, served as a price evaluator for the SP2 master contract, led LTDs and oral presentations, and assisted with all award documents for SP2. Once SP2 was awarded, I assisted many agencies with their task order processes, developed and gave transition training to customer agencies, and signed agency task orders as a Contracting Officer.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of transition?
Erin: This is a tough question because there are so many aspects of the transition and all are important in their own right. The biggest piece of advice I can give agencies is to communicate and plan. It's never too early to start communicating about the transition and planning for how your agency is going to transition. You may not know the bank or brand yet, but you know it's going to happen so get as much done now, that you can, so you're in a good position to hit the ground running with your own task order once the master contract is awarded.
Joline: The most important aspect of transition is having the right individuals working on the project throughout the process and utilizing the tools that have been provided by the GSA SmartPay program. The master contract is a complex document that has many different aspects, including program management, training, electronic access system, and security requirements. It is important that agencies have individuals from various fields of expertise involved in requirements development, through award of their task orders, and during the transition/integration/implementation process.
Describe some of the things that went well during transition.
Erin: One of the things I am most proud of is that our community of charge card managers transitioned over 3 million cardholders in one day from one program to another. The bumps we hit were very minor and easily managed because the agencies and the CCCM team did such a great job of preparing in advance for the transition. This was an incredible feat and I know we'll do it again for SP3.
Joline: The transition tools and training provided to the agencies assisted them in taking the right steps and tracking progress throughout the entire transition period, through requirements development, evaluation, award, and implementation. Agencies were able to successfully transition on time utilizing the tools provided.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during the transition from SP1 to SP2 and how are you preparing to address it this time?
Erin: The biggest challenge faced was ensuring that one of the agencies , for a variety of reasons, chose to transition after the Nov. 29, 2008 cutover date. Our focus was to ensure this agency still received service from their GSA SmartPay 1 bank until they and their GSA SmartPay 2 bank were fully ready to complete the transition.
Joline: The biggest challenge was ensuring that agencies are prepared for various issues that will take place after transition, including trailing transactions, system issues, and contract closeout. Agencies will need to make sure they have clean cardholder lists and closely track charges so that closeout does not become a long drawn out process for SP3.
What are some of the lessons learned based on your past experience with the GSA SmartPay transition?
Erin: Plan, plan, plan and communicate, communicate, communicate. Agencies need to get their management on board with the transition early on. Getting requirements for SP3 developed early will help agencies position themselves to get their task order requests out soon after the GSA SmartPay 3 master contract(s) are awarded. I think the agencies that were ready with their requirements early on, were able to get their task order requests out and awarded. Ultimately, this allowed for plenty of time to focus on the actual transition process by working with both the incoming and outgoing banks.
Joline: The biggest lesson for agencies to learn is to fully read and understand the Master Contract requirements and utilize the assistance of the Office of Charge Card Management. Agencies will be able to have a more successful transition process if they understand the Master Contract and how the offerings can benefit their various missions. In addition, agencies that engage their senior level management, especially with regard to implementing innovative solutions at the beginning of the new contract, will have more success in optimizing their program over the life of the task order.
What support can the banks best provide?
Erin: Both the outgoing and incoming contractor banks have contractual requirements they need to adhere to. C.2.10.3 - Master Contract Transition contains the requirements for outgoing GSA SmartPay 2 banks. C.2.2.1 - Master Contract Transition and C.2.2.2 - Agency/Organization Transition contain key points for both agencies and SP3 contractors to consider throughout the move from SP2 to SP3. The contractor banks are also obligated to fulfill the terms and conditions of GSA SmartPay 2 through the life of the contract.
Joline: Both incoming and outgoing contractor banks have responsibilities that they are required to uphold in the SP2 and SP3 master contracts. They can provide support in ensuring that agencies have clean master files and that agencies have electronic access systems that work well before the cutover from SP2 to SP3.
When should an agency begin scrubbing its master file?
Erin: In my opinion, it's good to scrub the master file a few times before transition. Agencies can work with their SP3 bank to determine that latest possible time to scrub the file, but a few scrubs between now and then might be good to ensure the list is as accurate as possible before the SP3 cards are issued.
Joline: Agencies should begin scrubbing master files early in the transition process and go through them again immediately before finalizing the list for banks to send out new cards under SP3.
What advice do you have for new A/OPCs who are going through their first transition?
Erin: If your agency has any information from the prior transition, use it as a guide. The tools that CCCM has put together can also help both new and experienced AOPCs work to transition their programs successfully. If you have questions, please call or email us! We're here to help and want to help you transition your agency successfully: email@example.com or 703-605-2808
Joline: It is important to make sure you have individuals with all of the necessary backgrounds ready to assist with transition. In addition, take advantage of the transition tools and transition training provided by the Office of Charge Card Management. Finally, reach out to other agencies with similar missions to brainstorm and share ideas and best practices throughout the process.
Any other comments that you would like to share?
Erin: I just want to let A/OPCs know that my team and I are here to help you with transition. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us. We want to help you experience a smooth, stress free transition.
Joline: Don't forget about your agency's POC from the Office of Charge Card Management who can assist with questions throughout the transition process.