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COTS vs GOTS - Four Reasons Why “Buy” Beats “Build”

Private industry is helping agencies better manage the “new realities” of IT acquisition economics. So why “build” if it already exists?

The drive to reduce government agency spending on IT was mandated in 1996 by the Clinger-Cohen Act (CCA), but has not fully raised financial performance to the level of an efficient, profitable business. A viable, cost-saving solution being considered by many federal IT purchasers is a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solution, as opposed to a Government-Off-The-Shelf (GOTS) solution.

GOTS is not a sustainable model – either purchasing a solution created by another agency, or creating the solution in-house. Along with the time and expense of research, development and realisation, too often federal IT projects run over budget, behind schedule or without delivering promised functionality.

Another benefit of commercial solutions is the constant update and refinement that businesses engage in to retain the competitive edge over rival solutions. After a government team invests time and money into design, production and deployment, the end result stands a good chance of being outdated, compared to commercially available solutions.

This paper goes into the background of both methods and discusses the strengths of COTS, detailing why GOTS should no longer be considered a viable alternative.