A quarter of all public contact centers will use virtual customer assistants by the year 2020, according to officials at the General Services Administration, and a new contract vehicle aims to make sure federal agencies have the technology to keep up.

GSA rolled out a new special item number contract vehicle that is designed to easily bring in new technologies for the centers of government that interface with the public.

“A SIN is a contract vehicle that you can actually inject new technologies on,” said Ellery Taylor, director of the Office of Acquisition Management’s Innovation Division, at an Oct. 12 GSA event announcing the option.

“Unlike the previous model where we were basically offering a solution through a contract with a smaller pool of vendors, the actual SIN includes — because it’s on Schedule 70 — a very, very large pool of vendors, a very, very large pool of technology.”

The SIN comes into place just as the old contract vehicle for contact centers, USA Contact, expired August 2018. And while the new vehicle doesn’t exactly replicate the old vehicle, according to GSA’s Senior Manager in the Office of Integrated Technology Services Muneeb Khan, this SIN acts as the follow-on solution for agencies.

The SIN enables agencies to purchase services, software and equipment for their contact centers either all from the same vendor in a single award or mix and match various services to more precisely meet their needs on a multiple award contract.

And while, according to Taylor and Khan, agencies can still acquire contact center services through other contracts, the SIN provides the most comprehensive array of solutions.

“With those other vehicles, you’re buying them in small parts, whereas through the [contact center] SIN you’re acquiring the total solution. So you have the hardware, and the software and the people to go along with it,” said Khan.

Though the new contract vehicle has been fully rolled out and posted to FedBizOpps under the Schedule 70 contract, Taylor said that GSA is currently trying to get the word out to potential industry contractors to get on the vehicle to make sure that agencies have the widest array of services possible.

“I’d say within a month or so there will be a whole host of companies that are offering these solutions,” said Taylor.