Nolij Blends Microservices and AI to Help HHS “Buy Smarter”

NITAAC offers an array of innovative technology services and solutions – including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and microservices – through our award-winning contract holders on our Best in Class (BIC) Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs).

Nolij Consulting, LLC, a NITAAC CIO-SP3 Small Business Contract Holder, found a way to combine microservices with AI to help one federal Department modernize and transform its procurement processes. Procurement can be a time-consuming, arduous process. Sometimes the overall cost and time invested are actually disproportionate to the benefits. Because multiple people buy the same or similar items at different times, from different vendors, and at different costs, it can be nearly impossible to compare purchases and identify departmental or organizational needs – and opportunities for economies of scale

When the Office of Management and Budget tasked federal agencies in 2017 with submitting a reform plan to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of their programs, the Department of Health and Human embarked on a multi-faceted department-wide transformation effort known as ReImagine HHS. A key component of that effort is HHS’ BuySmarter initiative, designed to transform and modernize the way the Department acquires goods and services. With more than $24 Billion in annual spend, HHS saw an opportunity to leverage Artificial Intelligence and e-commerce solutions to establish a cohesive acquisition structure across the department and drive better pricing, better terms, and recognize greater economies of scale. And shift the focus of its acquisition professionals to higher-priority mission-critical work.

Nolij Consulting developed a first-of-its-kind Artificial Intelligence tool for use in HHS’ BuySmarter initiative. The tool uses AI to compare and contrast purchases from almost two million current contract documents comprising 5-7 billion words, as well as schedules and public price lists, to enable strategic sourcing and group purchasing functions. By extracting information directly from the text of existing contracts, the tool enables HHS acquisition professionals, their subject matter experts and customers to easily access and compare similar purchases. This readily-accessible knowledge enables them to create more informed solicitations and more effectively negotiate the terms of new purchases.

The tool’s “human-centered” acquisition approach doesn’t require the user to have a perfect definition to search for an item – it walks them through a specific process of descriptive terms to provide the most relevant results.

Acquisition professionals, their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and customers can use this valuable information to craft more informed solicitations, more effectively negotiate the terms of new purchases, and unlock the potential for large group purchases. Daily procurement activities are ultimately faster, more accurate and less complicated.

The HHS BuySmarter initiative won a Public Sector Innovation Award in 2018 – and the AI tool is now being used to identify sources for required materials and services in the battle against COVID-19. This innovative solution from Nolij can be implemented in any federal agency looking to streamline and modernize their purchasing processes. It is especially adept at analyzing professional communications and documents that other technologies just can’t handle.

Federal agencies can acquire this type of solution through Nolij on the NITAAC Best in Class Government-Wide Acquisition Contract, CIO-SP3-Small Business. This Best in Class vehicle allows for ease of use and accelerates outcomes for agencies.

NITAAC provides any Department of Defense or civilian agency with three Best in Class GWACs to meet virtually every IT need. The NITAAC pool of pre-qualified Contract Holders has assisted over 64 federal departments with their information technology efforts. To learn more view our Contract Holder Capabilities page.