Insight into the CIO-CS Program

  |  November 14, 2013



Why didn’t they call it ECS IV? 
Since the ECS contract was always the hardware partner to the CIO-SP contract for professional services, originally NIH intended to release a follow-on solicitation called ECS IV.  But due to changes in the acquisition and to forge a closer relationship between these two contracts, NIH decided to rename the program to CIO-CS, which stands for the Chief Information Officer – Commodities and Solutions program.

How is this Contract different from ECS III?

ECS III was a full out PC desk-top buy rivalling the previous Air Force DeskTop 1, 2, 3, and 4 opportunities. The unique requirements of CIO-CS is a PC desk-top buy supporting the healthcare environment, which means the PCs and peripherals you propose must be able to integrate with the industry’s leading healthcare software such as applications from McKesson, Cerner, Meditech, Siemens, and EPIC. 

How is it different from SEWP?
CIO-CS is radically different from SEWP in that it provides only desk-top hardware.  In contrast, SEWP is providing both back-office and desk-top equipment.

Why does your company need this contract?
If you intend to sell PCs and the desk-top equipment that accompany these PCs to the Government, this contract will be one of the largest and most profitable vehicles available. Everybody in the federal government can make use of it. The DHS First Source II contract pales in comparison.

Who will bid this opportunity?
Everybody in the PC and desk-top equipment market will bid this deal if they want to win a sizable amount of business from the federal government agencies.

How do you win this contract?
All major federal systems integrators who want to sell PCs and desk-top equipment to the federal Government need to establish incredible relationships with their vendors and bid at very thin margins, somewhere between 2-3 points of margin, and understand how to push a marketing contract.  This is similar to a GSA schedule.  It does not guarantee business above the small Government’s minimums.  It requires the awardees to have a very strong inside and outside marketing team. You must be prepared to run a website with a marketplace vehicle that can produce sales in hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Bidding this opportunity will require an extensive proposal effort. Don’t pursue this deal without personnel or consultants who understand NIH and have experience with the ECS I, II and / or III contracts and have an extensive pricing background.

When will this really be released?
There are lots of varying opinions when this will be released. Since they extended the ECS III contract until November 25, 2013 no more task orders will be issued under ECS III, and there will be a large hole in the federal PC marketplace until this contract gets awarded, unless there is an additional extension of the ECS III contract. It is this author’s opinion that it will be released somewhere between December 1st, 2013 and January 15th, 2014. If it comes out in December, this will be just in time for a great Christmas present to the SI community.

When should you start writing your response?
The answer is now! You should be in a position to go to Pink Team when the real solicitation hits the streets.

What are the stages?

  • Pink Team at solicitation release.
  • Green Team one week after after Pink.
  • Red Team two weeks after Pink.
  • Gold Team one week after Red.

Where should you be now in the process?
You should be finishing up your first draft of your Pink Team response and have all your vendor relationships solidified.

Contact John Cook at 703-689-9600 or


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