GSA awards 125 small businesses OASIS contracts

February 26, 2014 by

On Monday (Feb. 24, 2014), the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced it has awarded 125 contracts to small businesses for its One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) Small Business (SB) contract to companies that will provide customers with best value services for complex professional service requirements.

OASIS SB, a 100-percent small business set-aside contract, was developed in response to the Government’s need for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle.  OASIS SB will provide a streamlined solution for both commercial and non-commercial needs. OASIS SB is designed to reduce duplication of contracting efforts across the government and provide federal agencies with comprehensive, integrated professional services contract options.  The list of the 125 companies awarded contracts is available by clicking here.  

“We created OASIS SB to meet the growing demand for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle that maximizes opportunities for small businesses, stated Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Tom Sharpe.  ”We believe that the large pool of awardees will provide government with access to highly skilled small businesses through a contract that is not only cost effective, but also efficient and streamlined for easier use by federal agencies looking to purchase complex professional services.”

OASIS SB will compliment GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program and provide agencies with more flexible full-service options. Notable features and benefits of OASIS and OASIS Small Business include:

  • Government-wide use
  • Access to best in class solution providers
  • On-ramp/off-ramp procedures to ensure a flexible, vibrant vendor pool
  • Integrated support for key government initiatives

GSA predicts OASIS SB will drive down costs for federal agencies, and increase efficiency by reducing the time spent on developing complex contractual instruments. OASIS SB will include a vast array of professional services contractors for agencies to choose from. In fact it  has already become the solution of choice for some government agencies. In December,  the United States Air Force committed to use OASIS SB in lieu of creating several of its own multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) acquisition vehicles. These efforts are estimated to be worth approximately $1.4 billion per year and use of OASIS SB is projected to save the Air Force and taxpayers significant dollars and resources.

For more information visit www.gsa.gov/oasis and OASIS Industry Group on GSA Interact.

Nondisclosure of higher profit on fixed price contract does not violate False Claims Act

September 11, 2013 by

Last week, a U.S. District Court judge in Florida held that a government contractor working under a fixed-price contract is not liable under the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) for higher than expected profits and “failing to notify the Government that the work could be performed less expensively and charged at a lower price” than the contract price.   U.S. ex rel. Prime v. Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc., and Parsons Corporation, No. 10-cv-1950 (M.D. Fl. Aug. 23, 2013).

The nature of the contract was critical to the outcome of the case. In U.S. ex rel. Prime, two contractors, Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. (“PBS&J”) and Parsons, formed a joint venture for the project (the “JV”). The JV entered into a fixed price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with the Government, under which fixed price task orders would be placed. Prices on the individual task orders were lump-sum, determined in accordance with the agreed-upon labor rates multiplied by the number of days required to complete the work, and included a profit component. The labor rates and lump-sum task order prices were a product of lengthy negotiations between the JV and Government representatives. During those negotiations, which were transcribed, the Government noted the potential for the JV to increase its profit margin by injecting greater efficiency into its performance.

Keep reading this post at http://www.mckennalong.com/publications-advisories-3378.html.

Schedule contract cancellation no big deal, experts say

April 30, 2012 by

The General Services Administration’s cancellation of Oracle Inc.’s Schedule 70 IT services contract was simply because the two could not reach an agreement on terms, deciding in the end to go their separate ways, experts say.

A senior GSA official said April 20 that it was not in the government’s best interest to continue to offer Oracle’s IT services though its Schedule. GSA officials would not provide further details.

However, one day earlier a spokeswoman said the cancellation was the result of the company not meeting the terms of the contract.

Experts said they were were not surprised by of GSA’s decision, nor did they say they believed Oracle had done something terrible.

“Since GSA isn’t suggesting suspension or debarment, and because GSA is openly referring to Oracle’s other reseller and partner channels to sell its offerings, actions leading to the cancellation are probably not egregious,” said Ray Bjorklund, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Deltek’s GovWin.

Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service Office’s of Integrated Technology Services, noted April 20 that agencies could still buy software and software maintenance from Oracle’s resellers that have IT Schedule 70 contracts.

As for directly working with Oracle, Davie said, “It was determined that it was not in the best interest of the government to continue the contract.”

In the meantime, Oracle has yet to comment on GSA’s action.

The cancellation takes effect May 17.

Oracle’s Schedule contract was to run from Oct. 1, 2006, to March 28, 2012. The Schedule was last updated September 30, 2011, Bjorklund said.

“One could infer that GSA and Oracle couldn’t reach agreement on the terms and conditions needed to renew or extend the contract,” he said.

A lot of procurement changes have happened since 2006 that may have arisen between the two. There may have been differences in opinion about Oracle’s interest in its proprietary data rights, payment terms or rules that affect overseas work, Bjorklund said.

In addition, experts said the decision could stem from Oracle’s inability to comply with existing contractual stipulations because the company has changed the way it conducts business since the contract was last modified.

Mark Amtower, partner of Amtower and Company, said major corporations often struggle with GSA’s demands on sales records. Companies the size of Oracle may not be able to provide all of their sales information.

“When a worldwide company like Oracle is required to provide pricing data for every product sold, it is akin to Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill,” he said.

GSA Schedule contracts are under the Price Reduction Clause, which requires the government to get at least the same sale price as any other client.

GSA’s move came several months after Oracle agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its failure to comply with the terms and conditions of its Schedule contract.

“Now, in addition to the fine, Oracle will have to find other ways to sell to federal customers,” Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, wrote in his weekly ‘The Week Ahead’ newsletter.

Overall, the reaction from experts is that the cancellation won’t be a huge blow to Oracle or its sales.

Schedule 70 is not a preferred vehicle for IT, Amtower said. It has become more or less a default vehicle.

According to Amtower, Oracle’s Schedule contract accounts for less than 7 percent of total government purchases.

Oracle’s sales are coming through other contracts, such as NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurements and other Defense Department indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts.

Bjorklund said this latest action is unlikely to dampen any interest in what Oracle offers the government; nor is it any grand-scale initiative on the part of GSA.

“When parties can’t agree, it’s just time to cancel the contract and try to start over again,” he said.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week.  This article was published on Apr. 23, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2012/04/23/reaction-GSA-oracle-cancellation.aspx?s=wtdaily_240412&Page=2.

Contractor survey reflects tougher times for industry

March 7, 2012 by

Over the past year, roughly 70 percent of government contractors in a new survey saw some growth or at least no significant change in revenue from their government contracts, but government contracting still is not a booming business.

Half of more than 100 prime government contractors surveyed had revenue growth and 21 percent had relatively little change. However, 29 percent brought in less revenue, according to Grant Thornton’s 17th Annual Government Contractor Survey, released Feb. 20.

“The fact that the highest percentage of companies experienced revenue growth continues a long-term trend reported in previous surveys, indicating that government contractors are far less vulnerable than commercial companies to recessions or slow growth in the overall economy,” Grant Thornton wrote.

Thirty-one percent said they had profits of between 1 percent and 5 percent of profits. And 37 percent of companies had 6 percent and 10 percent growth compared to last year. Eight percent of companies reported profits of 15 percent or more. Only 6 percent reported breaking even or experiencing a loss.

Grant Thornton wrote that the profit rates likely result from a greater reliance on multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts.

“There is little doubt that the amount of true competition for task orders in many IDIQ contracts is far less than was the case before IDIQ contracts became so prevalent,” according to Grant Thornton’s analysis of the survey results. “This lessening of competition in the pursuit of [government] efficiency is likely a contributor to higher profit rates.”

Meanwhile, the 29 percent of companies getting less revenue than last year is the highest percentage reported in several surveys.

The high numbers indicate “that government efforts to reduce deficits are adversely impacting government contractor revenue,” the survey said.

Surveyors distributed questionnaires during the first half of 2011 and received responses from participating companies over the next several months. Financial and business statistics in the survey typically relate to fiscal years ended in 2010 or early 2011. They are treated as belonging to the current year in the survey.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week.  This article appeared on Feb. 24, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/02/24/grant-thornton-survey-contractor-revenue.aspx?s=wtdaily_280212.

Should contractors fear sequestration?

January 24, 2012 by

If sequestration of federal funds kicks in, agencies will face making deep cuts to programs and that pain will flow down to contractors, experts say.

A sequestration causes automatic, indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts. The failure of the so-called supercommittee to find $1.2 trillion dollars in savings over a decade triggered the cuts. They’re set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013.

As a result, contractors too “are hostages in a showdown between the president and Congress over fundamental decisions on taxing and spending,” said John Cooney, former general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget and now a partner at the Venable law firm.

He spoke Jan. 17 at a panel discussion hosted by the Professional Services Council that looked at sequestration in detail. Cooney broke down the possible routes federal officials may take to deal with the cuts.

Cooney expects agencies to:

  • Try to avoid terminating contracts. Instead, officials will reduce the amount of money obligated under their contracts.
  • Become less willing to extend contracts into their option years.
  • Obligate money for one fiscal year at a time on task order and services contracts.
  • Possibly use the prospect of the sequester’s cuts to renegotiate contracts.

He also said agency officials will more often decide to not award new contracts.

“This will be a common agency practice in year one of a sequester. Procurements that can be put off will be put off,” he said during the discussion.

With available money, agency officials will maximize contracts that meet their agency’s core duties, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council, who spoke on the panel as well.

Meanwhile he expects agencies to look for more flexibility to avoid hard-and-fast commitments, such as fixed-price contracts and minimum revenue guarantees. And on the other hand, officials may use more time-and-materials contracts, which are based on labor hours and materials.

However, Chvotkin said there are some policy constraints as the Obama administration has railed against this type of contract, which places a lot of risk on the government.

IDIQs and the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules program may become more attractive to agencies. They allow for more negotiations at the task order level, he said.

Cooney had several suggestions for companies in light of what may happen. Advocate for the importance of a program and stay in close contact with a contracting officer. Realize though that the officer may not know the fate of a program until very late in the process.

Businesses should also emphasize what they can do for the agency, including the options the company is willing to agree to that may even decrease its revenue, Chvotkin said.

He recommended checking the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) and the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS). The information needs to be correct, and it should reflect as favorably as possible on the company’s performance.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Jan. 19, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/18/sequestration-effects-contracts.aspx?s=wtdaily_200112.

6 keys — and a caveat — to winning bigger contracts

July 22, 2011 by

In sports parlance, it’s known as going for the gold. The term also applies in government contracting, as more and more companies are seeking the gold to be found in the large federal indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicles.

“Come July and August, the IDIQs light up like Christmas trees,” said Paul Strasser, senior vice president and general manager of Dynamics Research Corp.’s federal group. “There are task orders going out like crazy because, with the continuing  resolutions, agencies are trying to spend the money they have allocated. The IDIQ has become by far the vehicle of choice. So you have to prepare.”

“The smarter smaller companies are looking at the vehicles earlier and seeing what resources it’s going to take to win,” said Mark Amtower, co-founder of the Government Market Master certificate program at the George Mason University School of Management and a Washington Technology contributor. “The large companies have two avenues. They can buy a company that owns the IDIQ or wait until the recompete and try to win it. However, there are no guarantees for the recompete.”

1. Consider M&A to open doors

Paul Bell, president of Dell Inc.’s Global Public and Large Enterprise sector, makes no bones that Dell is taking the mergers and acquisitions route.

He said Dell is still in the early stages of its M&A activity even though the giant hardware and services company has acquired nine companies in just 18 months.

“We think this has been a really good approach for Dell,” Bell said. “Our integration of our very biggest platform, Perot Systems, is going incredibly well compared to a lot of people’s experience in that [government provider] space.”

Dell’s marketing strategy is to serve its federal clients with the unified face of one company, Bell said. “That won’t change even if we add 25 more companies, which is likely in the coming years,” he said but declined to go into specifics about future M&A targets.

DRC’s capture strategy always includes IDIQ contracts. “If you’re not playing on certain IDIQ contracts, you’re really left out in the cold,” Strasser said.

Next: Focus on key markets

2. Focus on key markets

Strasser said DRC has been successful because it concentrates on its five core market segments: homeland security, health, cybersecurity, intelligence and Defense Department strategic programs, and financial and regulatory agencies.

Its IDIQ wins include the Internal Revenue Service’s Total Information Processing Support Services contract, General Services Administration’s Alliant contract, the Army’s Program Management Support Services and Homeland Security Department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) contracts.

Strasser said DRC identifies new targets at twice-yearly strategic planning sessions during which the company determines the government’s needs and its funding levels.

Company executives also attend independent analysis sessions and participate in a number of industry associations.

“We have people in key positions to not only be aware of changes in the industry, the legislation and how the money is being budgeted but also to sort of influence those [groups],” Strasser said.

DRC’s fastest-growing market is health care, an area in which the company had virtually no business just five years ago.

Next: Invest wisely in targeted sectors

3. Invest wisely in targeted sectors

Strategic investment discussions, off-site company assessments and peer reviews that began about five years ago led to action plans for DRC to target federal health care contracts.

“Today in the federal group that I manage, we’re going to do over $30 million this year in health-related services and solutions,” Strasser said.

As an example, he cited the $19 million Tricare Evaluation, Analysis, Management and Support, a Military Health System Category 2 acquisition contract that DRC won last year thanks to its management consulting expertise. DRC is helping the Walter Reed Army Medical Center manage its Base Realignment and Closure movement.

“We identified that [opportunity] three or four years ago,” Strasser said. “We said we’re committed to that market. We identified a vehicle we thought we had an opportunity to win. We put resources and investments against that to identify the capture of that vehicle. Once we won that vehicle we invested additional resources to pursue task order opportunities there.”

Although DRC does not have a chief medical officer, its staffing does include clinicians and doctors.

Next: Plan ahead

4. Plan ahead

About a year ago, American Systems Corp., which historically sought smaller contracting vehicles, introduced a plan to create a business development system and pursue some of the larger prime contacts, including IDIQs, President and CEO Bill Hoover said. “And the good news is we’ve actually followed through on that plan.”

Hoover said that after he joined the company in 2006, ASC instituted an infrastructure investment plan to strengthen its five key market targets: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; acquisition and logistics; readiness; homeland security; and national intelligence.

“We also expanded our recruiting function significantly as well because we knew that was going to be important, too,” Hoover said.

“I would say that probably our back office, which really is the infrastructure side of the business, was probably about 60 or 70 people. And we’ve probably increased that by about 50 percent or so,” he said.

Another goal was to strengthen ASC’s capture management program and establish a project management office to oversee the company’s IDIQ contracts and meet the needed quick turnaround on task orders.

“Although the bulk of the investment was probably back in the 2006-2007 time frame, we continue to invest in our infrastructure to make sure that we can be as responsive as we can possibly be on these opportunities,” Hoover said.

Next: Hire the right people

5. Hire the right people

In addition, ASC is aggressively expanding its pipeline of individuals “so that we have a living and breathing database of candidates for a variety of opportunities in the focused business opportunity areas that we’re interested in pursuing,” he said.

ASC uses that database to strengthen its proposals whether it is pursuing an IDIQ or a large single-award prime contract. To keep the database current and growing, executives attend job fairs and conduct informational seminars.

“We have that database of [potential contract and current] employees that we can very quickly pull together because, on the IDIQ side, you have a very rapid turnaround of proposals, and we can then provide the résumés to go after those faster-turnaround opportunities,” Hoover said.

“We’re constantly looking for individuals with the requisite experience, the requisite customer focus, the requisite capabilities,” he said, adding that this is particularly true when going after an IDIQ or task order from the intelligence community in which background checks and security clearances are critical.

“The name of the game has changed with the government predominantly using some of the larger vehicles,” said Shiv Krishnan, chairman and CEO of Indus Corp., who recently hired Terry Fitzpatrick as vice president to oversee business development and growth.

Next: Build your infrastructure

6. Build your infrastructure

Indus emerged from the small-business program about 10 years ago and positioned itself to go after large contracts, including governmentwide acquisition contracts, known as GWACs, he said.

“If you do not bid on these GWACs, then you’re shut out of opportunities coming through those [awards] and those [represent] billions of dollars of opportunities for the next seven or 10 years,” Krishnan said.

Indus set up the infrastructure to compete for GWACs by meeting government requirements, such as having an earned value management system, a government-approved purchasing system, Capability Maturity Model Integration certification, and positive past-performance evaluations.

“You need to be positioned; you need to be close to the customer,” he said. That’s what Fitzpatrick’s business development team does two to three years in advance, Krishnan added.

Indus was successful in 2009 when it bid for a spot on the 10-year, $50 billion Alliant contract. “That was a feather in our cap and the beginning of our [capture] strategy,” Krishnan said.

For several years Indus tracked the planned EAGLE II, Network Centric Solutions II and National Institutes of Health’s 10-year, $20 billion Chief Information Officer — Solutions and Partners 3 awards. When they finally were announced in 2010, the company was ready to bid on all three, Krishnan said. The company also is adding health IT capabilities.

GWACs and agency-specific enterprisewide acquisition contracts have been popular, he said, because the government does the upfront work of selecting qualified contractors, and the competition to perform the task orders is limited only to those companies.

Next: A word of caution

A word of caution

However, Kevin Plexico, vice president of research and analysis services at Deltek Input., a market research and intelligence firm, cautions against relying too heavily on GWACs, including Alliant and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement.

“We haven’t seen them trend up in five years,” he told a gathering of contracting executives last month. “They’ve been relatively flat while those agency-specific task order-based contracts have been taking off.”

“What we’re seeing is larger agencies are establishing their own task-order based contracts,” he said. “We see that all the military branches have moved this way.”

That trend is expected to continue, effectively reducing the number of prime contract opportunities, Plexico said.

For example, he said, about half of DHS’ IT services go through the EAGLE contract.

“If you don’t have a position on EAGLE, you can effectively think about your opportunity inside DHS as being limited to the other 50 percent that’s outside the EAGLE contract,” Plexico said.

In addition, the growth of task orders has greatly reduced the time frame in which to pursue them compared to the traditional 30-, 60- or 90-day response time for traditional requests for proposals.

Plexico said a Deltek Input study of about 11,000 task orders from 18 contract vehicles found that more than half of them required contractors to respond in less than two weeks.

“So this will challenge even the most agile of contracting and bid proposal organizations to respond,” he said. “This is fundamentally changing how companies are organizing their proposal organizations.”

– About the Author: David Hubler is the associate editor of Washington Technology.  Published July 1, 2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/07/05/cover-steps-to-big-contract-wins.aspx?s=wtdaily_050711

6 keys — and a caveat — to winning bigger contracts

July 7, 2011 by

In sports parlance, it’s known as going for the gold. The term also applies in government contracting, as more and more companies are seeking the gold to be found in the large federal indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract vehicles.

“Come July and August, the IDIQs light up like Christmas trees,” said Paul Strasser, senior vice president and general manager of Dynamics Research Corp.’s federal group. “There are task orders going out like crazy because, with the continuing  resolutions, agencies are trying to spend the money they have allocated. The IDIQ has become by far the vehicle of choice. So you have to prepare.”

“The smarter smaller companies are looking at the vehicles earlier and seeing what resources it’s going to take to win,” said Mark Amtower, co-founder of the Government Market Master certificate program at the George Mason University School of Management and a Washington Technology contributor. “The large companies have two avenues. They can buy a company that owns the IDIQ or wait until the recompete and try to win it. However, there are no guarantees for the recompete.”

1. Consider M&A to open doors

Paul Bell, president of Dell Inc.’s Global Public and Large Enterprise sector, makes no bones that Dell is taking the mergers and acquisitions route.

He said Dell is still in the early stages of its M&A activity even though the giant hardware and services company has acquired nine companies in just 18 months.

“We think this has been a really good approach for Dell,” Bell said. “Our integration of our very biggest platform, Perot Systems, is going incredibly well compared to a lot of people’s experience in that [government provider] space.”

Dell’s marketing strategy is to serve its federal clients with the unified face of one company, Bell said. “That won’t change even if we add 25 more companies, which is likely in the coming years,” he said but declined to go into specifics about future M&A targets.

DRC’s capture strategy always includes IDIQ contracts. “If you’re not playing on certain IDIQ contracts, you’re really left out in the cold,” Strasser said.

Next: Focus on key markets

2. Focus on key markets

Strasser said DRC has been successful because it concentrates on its five core market segments: homeland security, health, cybersecurity, intelligence and Defense Department strategic programs, and financial and regulatory agencies.

Its IDIQ wins include the Internal Revenue Service’s Total Information Processing Support Services contract, General Services Administration’s Alliant contract, the Army’s Program Management Support Services and Homeland Security Department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) contracts.

Strasser said DRC identifies new targets at twice-yearly strategic planning sessions during which the company determines the government’s needs and its funding levels.

Company executives also attend independent analysis sessions and participate in a number of industry associations.

“We have people in key positions to not only be aware of changes in the industry, the legislation and how the money is being budgeted but also to sort of influence those [groups],” Strasser said.

DRC’s fastest-growing market is health care, an area in which the company had virtually no business just five years ago.

Next: Invest wisely in targeted sectors

3. Invest wisely in targeted sectors

Strategic investment discussions, off-site company assessments and peer reviews that began about five years ago led to action plans for DRC to target federal health care contracts.

“Today in the federal group that I manage, we’re going to do over $30 million this year in health-related services and solutions,” Strasser said.

As an example, he cited the $19 million Tricare Evaluation, Analysis, Management and Support, a Military Health System Category 2 acquisition contract that DRC won last year thanks to its management consulting expertise. DRC is helping the Walter Reed Army Medical Center manage its Base Realignment and Closure movement.

“We identified that [opportunity] three or four years ago,” Strasser said. “We said we’re committed to that market. We identified a vehicle we thought we had an opportunity to win. We put resources and investments against that to identify the capture of that vehicle. Once we won that vehicle we invested additional resources to pursue task order opportunities there.”

Although DRC does not have a chief medical officer, its staffing does include clinicians and doctors.

Next: Plan ahead

4. Plan ahead

About a year ago, American Systems Corp., which historically sought smaller contracting vehicles, introduced a plan to create a business development system and pursue some of the larger prime contacts, including IDIQs, President and CEO Bill Hoover said. “And the good news is we’ve actually followed through on that plan.”

Hoover said that after he joined the company in 2006, ASC instituted an infrastructure investment plan to strengthen its five key market targets: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; acquisition and logistics; readiness; homeland security; and national intelligence.

“We also expanded our recruiting function significantly as well because we knew that was going to be important, too,” Hoover said.

“I would say that probably our back office, which really is the infrastructure side of the business, was probably about 60 or 70 people. And we’ve probably increased that by about 50 percent or so,” he said.

Another goal was to strengthen ASC’s capture management program and establish a project management office to oversee the company’s IDIQ contracts and meet the needed quick turnaround on task orders.

“Although the bulk of the investment was probably back in the 2006-2007 time frame, we continue to invest in our infrastructure to make sure that we can be as responsive as we can possibly be on these opportunities,” Hoover said.

Next: Hire the right people

5. Hire the right people

In addition, ASC is aggressively expanding its pipeline of individuals “so that we have a living and breathing database of candidates for a variety of opportunities in the focused business opportunity areas that we’re interested in pursuing,” he said.

ASC uses that database to strengthen its proposals whether it is pursuing an IDIQ or a large single-award prime contract. To keep the database current and growing, executives attend job fairs and conduct informational seminars.

“We have that database of [potential contract and current] employees that we can very quickly pull together because, on the IDIQ side, you have a very rapid turnaround of proposals, and we can then provide the résumés to go after those faster-turnaround opportunities,” Hoover said.

“We’re constantly looking for individuals with the requisite experience, the requisite customer focus, the requisite capabilities,” he said, adding that this is particularly true when going after an IDIQ or task order from the intelligence community in which background checks and security clearances are critical.

“The name of the game has changed with the government predominantly using some of the larger vehicles,” said Shiv Krishnan, chairman and CEO of Indus Corp., who recently hired Terry Fitzpatrick as vice president to oversee business development and growth.

Next: Build your infrastructure

6. Build your infrastructure

Indus emerged from the small-business program about 10 years ago and positioned itself to go after large contracts, including governmentwide acquisition contracts, known as GWACs, he said.

“If you do not bid on these GWACs, then you’re shut out of opportunities coming through those [awards] and those [represent] billions of dollars of opportunities for the next seven or 10 years,” Krishnan said.

Indus set up the infrastructure to compete for GWACs by meeting government requirements, such as having an earned value management system, a government-approved purchasing system, Capability Maturity Model Integration certification, and positive past-performance evaluations.

“You need to be positioned; you need to be close to the customer,” he said. That’s what Fitzpatrick’s business development team does two to three years in advance, Krishnan added.

Indus was successful in 2009 when it bid for a spot on the 10-year, $50 billion Alliant contract. “That was a feather in our cap and the beginning of our [capture] strategy,” Krishnan said.

For several years Indus tracked the planned EAGLE II, Network Centric Solutions II and National Institutes of Health’s 10-year, $20 billion Chief Information Officer — Solutions and Partners 3 awards. When they finally were announced in 2010, the company was ready to bid on all three, Krishnan said. The company also is adding health IT capabilities.

GWACs and agency-specific enterprisewide acquisition contracts have been popular, he said, because the government does the upfront work of selecting qualified contractors, and the competition to perform the task orders is limited only to those companies.

Next: A word of caution

A word of caution

However, Kevin Plexico, vice president of research and analysis services at Deltek Input., a market research and intelligence firm, cautions against relying too heavily on GWACs, including Alliant and NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement.

“We haven’t seen them trend up in five years,” he told a gathering of contracting executives last month. “They’ve been relatively flat while those agency-specific task order-based contracts have been taking off.”

“What we’re seeing is larger agencies are establishing their own task-order based contracts,” he said. “We see that all the military branches have moved this way.”

That trend is expected to continue, effectively reducing the number of prime contract opportunities, Plexico said.

For example, he said, about half of DHS’ IT services go through the EAGLE contract.

“If you don’t have a position on EAGLE, you can effectively think about your opportunity inside DHS as being limited to the other 50 percent that’s outside the EAGLE contract,” Plexico said.

In addition, the growth of task orders has greatly reduced the time frame in which to pursue them compared to the traditional 30-, 60- or 90-day response time for traditional requests for proposals.

Plexico said a Deltek Input study of about 11,000 task orders from 18 contract vehicles found that more than half of them required contractors to respond in less than two weeks.

“So this will challenge even the most agile of contracting and bid proposal organizations to respond,” he said. “This is fundamentally changing how companies are organizing their proposal organizations.”

– About the Author: David Hubler is the associate editor of Washington Technology.   Published 7/1/2011 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2011/07/05/cover-steps-to-big-contract-wins.aspx?s=wtdaily_060711

Oops, GSA takes back major contract awards

June 24, 2011 by

General Services Administration officials quickly rescinded an e-mail message
sent to small businesses telling them they had won spots on its major small
business governmentwide IT contract, according to an e-mail message obtained by
Washington Technology and Federal Computer Week.

Officials wrote in a follow-up message, which came a day after the award
notice, that they were checking prices again for the 8(a) Streamlined Technology
Acquisition Resources for Services (STARS) II contract. The message contained an
unsubtle suggestion that bidders might want to offer lower prices.

“Any part of previous communications from GSA stating or implying that
offerors were deemed apparently successful is hereby rescinded,” agency
officials wrote. “This discussion e-mail serves as notice that GSA has made the
decision to hold additional discussions, with an emphasis on pricing.”

STARS II is a 5-year, $10 billion indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity
(IDIQ) IT contract. GSA issued the first solicitation for the GWAC in July 2009.
Officials expect an award this month, according to GSA.gov.

GSA officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment..

Prices are becoming a central theme in the government as Congress and the
Obama administration attempte to rein in spending.

GSA is giving the 8(a) small businesses time to reexamine the prices they
offered in their initial bids and adjust the pricing to “amplify its potential
to be favorably considered,” according to the follow-up message.

The opportunity for price revisions is not merely a request for an update,
but it will play into GSA’s evaluations. “This is a competitive 8(a) procurement where comparative analysis with other
offerors’ pricing in response to this [Final Proposal Revision] opportunity, and
possibly other price analysis, will occur in order to assess price
reasonableness [or] unreasonableness,” GSA wrote.

In the rescission e-mail message, GSA gave companies pricing averages from
the initial bids as a guide for what’s been offered so far to let companies know
where their prices compare to other bidders.

Observers speculated that someone may have sent out an email too soon, or a
senior management official could have recognized in the 12th hour that the
agency needed look over the prices again.

“Oops,” Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, said about
the initial message.

Either way, the STARS GWAC is “a crown jewel” of GSA and its small business
contracts. It’s next to the GSA’s Schedules in importance to the agency, he
said.

The follow-up rescission message may be awkward, but, Allen said, it’s better
than being criticized throughout the life of the contract because of high
prices.

Nevertheless, the small-business aspect, such as getting a good mix of
various business types, likely would get officials’ attention from the outset
before prices, he said. STARS offers customer agencies an avenue to boost their
small-business contacting percentages, which has helped to make the GWAC
successful.

Across the government though, pricing has become another essential topic in a
time when funding is set to diminish. It’s important enough that the Defense
Department made Shay Assad, a senior procurement policy official, the first
director of defense pricing in May.

That appointment points to the weight of the pricing issue, said Hope Lane, a
government contract consultant at Aronson Consulting.

“The government has to start implementing austerity measures,” said Lane, who
focuses on GSA Schedules.

It isn’t surprising that GSA may have rescinded its award notice in order to
make contractors improve their prices, she said. As agencies hunt for the best
value for their money, GSA’s STARS GWAC has to prove that it can actually save
money, or GSA will lose business to another IDIQ hosted by another agency, she
said.

“IT, in particular, is a competitive market among GWACs,” she said.

This mix-up may cost GSA by way of protests to the contract. Allen said the
likelihood of protests just jumped much higher.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is acquisition editor for Federal Computer Week -
June 22, 2011 – http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2011/06/22/GSA-rescinds-STARS-II-GWAC-award.aspx?p=1

SBA considering mandating set-asides on multiple award contracts

March 31, 2011 by

The federal government finally could reach its goal of awarding 23 percent of all contract dollars to small businesses by allowing, and possibly mandating, agencies to set aside orders against the General Services Administration’s Multiple Awards Schedule and other indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contracts, according to a senior Small Business Administration official.

Currently, agencies are not required to, and they often are discouraged from setting aside small businesses task and delivery orders that are placed against multiple award contracts. But the Small Business Jobs Act, signed by President Obama in September 2010 instructs SBA and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to develop guidance that would reverse that policy.

To further its policy deliberations, SBA met with hundreds of small business owners on Wednesday in Manhattan as part of its Small Business Jobs Act tour. The event, one of 13 scheduled in locations across the country in March and April, is designed to provide the public with information about the provisions in the legislation, including 19 focused on contracting.

Arguably the most important, and potentially difficult to implement, provision would dramatically alter how agencies use the GSA schedules and IDIQ contract vehicles, which now represent 28 percent of the federal procurement marketplace. In 1990, IDIQs represented just 14 percent of the total contracting dollars spent by agencies.

SBA and OFPP have held five outreach events in recent months seeking feedback from the public on the best way to implement this provision. The crux of the issue, according to Joe Jordan, associate administrator for government contracting and business development at SBA, is whether to mandate small business set-asides on multiple award and IDIQ contracts, or to allow agencies the discretion to use them.

“We need to get the ‘shall’ versus ‘may’ language right,” he said.

SBA’s decision could make the difference in whether the government finally meets its small business contracting goals. In fiscal 2009, small businesses won 21.9 percent of all small business contract dollars, amounting to $96.8 billion. To meet its 23 percent goal, agencies would have to spend roughly $5 billion more on small businesses, Jordan said.

Mandating small business set-asides could push agencies over that threshold. About $40 billion in contracts was awarded last year off GSA’s Multiple Awards Schedule, and another $150 billion was spent governmentwide through IDIQ contracts.

But the Obama administration also is weighing whether a mandate would discourage agencies from using these contracts, particularly the GSA Schedules. One possible solution, Jordan said, is developing a hybrid solution in which agencies could be required to set aside task-and-delivery orders if they do not meet their small business goals. The agencies that are meeting those goals then would be allowed, but not forced, to use the set-asides.

“The question is how to make this happen without taking away from the speed and efficiency” he said.

The jobs act also establishes a mentor-protégé program to assist small businesses owned by women, service-disabled veterans and those operating in Historically Underutilized Business Zones in competing for contract opportunities. The initiative would be modeled after the 8(a) mentor-protégé program and also take into account the staffing and resources SBA has devoted for these programs, Jordan said.

But these new joint ventures bring possible perils, including opening the door for mammoth contractors, such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., to begin winning a high percentage of contracts that are intended for small businesses.

“How do we balance that?” Jordan asked. “These can’t be pass-throughs. We can’t let companies play that way.”

SBA expects to submit a proposed rule creating the mentor-protégé programs by the end of May.

Other job act contracting provisions include:

  • Requiring OFPP to establish a governmentwide policy for contract bundling — a process in which several small contracts are consolidated and awarded to one firm, often out of the reach of small businesses. (Before bundling a contract, procurement officials would be required to conduct market research and to have a senior acquisition official sign off on the decision. The rationale for bundling then would be publicly disclosed, either on a federal database, or on the agency’s website. )
  • Establishing a pilot program for collaboration and joint ventures involving small business contractors. (Under the five-year program, $5 million in federal grants will be awarded to nonprofit groups that would then collaborate with small business teams seeking to compete collaboratively for larger procurement contracts. Thus far, 80 to 90 grant proposals have been received, and SBA expects to choose from 10 to 20. Proposals must be received by April 11.)
  • Mandating small businesses to recertify their size status annually. The law also establishes a governmentwide policy for prosecuting companies that fraudulently disclose themselves to be a small business. (The policy would allow an agency to keep the product or services the fraudulent company provided and still sue the business for the entire sum the agency paid through the contract.)
  • Requiring SBA to re-examine its size standards in each of its business categories every five years.

 – by Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com –  March 30, 2011

20 contracts for 2011 you can’t ignore

December 27, 2010 by

In our annual roundup of the 20 most important contracts that are about to hit the market, Washington Technology culled data from FedSources and Input. The contracts are ranked by the dollar size of their ceilings. Actual business that will flow through these contracts likely will be less.

The contracts this year weigh heavily toward IT support and professional services. Support for the military is the most common driver behind many of these contracts.

For more coverage of the critical trends driving the market in 2011, click here.

1. Strategic Services Sourcing 2nd Generation
Agency: Army Materiel Command
Value: $30 billion
RFP: November 2012
Award: December 2014
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: This is a follow-on contract to the current S3 contract. The Army uses the contract for engineering services and logistics and business operations support for command and control systems. The contract is a multiple-award contract. The current contract has seven incumbents that have done more than $4.5 billion in task orders.

2. Enhanced Army Global Logistics Enterprise
Agency: Army Materiel Command
Value: $30 billion
RFP: February 2011
Award: January 2012
Solicitation No.: W52P1J10RXXXX
Purpose: The contract has four functional areas: supply, maintenance, transportation support, and plans and operations. The contract will primarily support logistics operations. It is replacing the Army’s Field and Installation Readiness Support Team contract and some other smaller vehicles. This will be a multiple-award contract.

3. Communication and Transmission Systems
Agency: Army
Value: $19.5 billion
RFP: May 2011
Award: February 2012
Solicitation No.: W91QUZ10CTSPWSQA
Purpose: This contract will be used to acquire a variety of communications services, including satellite, microwave, fiber optics, over-the horizon, radio and wireless. The contract also will be used for equipment, hardware and support services. The Army is looking for turnkey solutions on this contract as well. It is expected to be a multiple-award contract.

4. Defense Language Interpretation and Translation Enterprises
Agency: Army
Value: $15 billion
RFP: Expected by the end of calendar 2010.
Award: March 2011
Solicitation No.: W911W410R0011
Purpose: This contract will be used by the military and other U.S. agencies to acquire foreign language and regional expertise to help the government meet its missions. Translators and analysts will work on-site and remotely. Services will include translating and interpreting from English to other languages in addition to from other languages into English.

5. Federally Funded Research and Development Center Support
Agency: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Value: $14.4 billion
RFP: March 2011
Award: December 2011
Solicitation No.: NNN10AA01S
Purpose: The contractor will manage and operate the Jet Propulsion Lab, including maintaining the infrastructure needed by the lab to carry out its scientific and research mission. Missions include projects in Earth orbit and deep space, and they cover Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics.

6. Global Tactical Advanced Communications Systems and Support Services
Agency: Army
Value: $10 billion
RFP: March 2011
Award: June 2011
Solicitation No.: W15P7T11RC001
Purpose: The multiple-award contract will be used to buy hardware, systems and services for a wide range of tactical command and control systems, including logistics support, testing and engineering services.

7. Next Generation Enterprise Network
Agency: Navy
Value: $8.8 billion
RFP: Fiscal 2011
Award: To be determined
Solicitation No.: MKTSVY4623E
Purpose: NGEN will replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract held by Hewlett-Packard. This time, the Navy is expected to divide the contract into five parts. The NGEN program also will cover the One-Net contract held by General Dynamics, the naval network outside the United States, and afloat networks. NGEN will cover desktop computers, local-area networks, enterprise networks and the Navy’s IT infrastructure used by 450,000 people.

8. Electronic Commodities Store IV
Agency: National Institutes of Health
Value: $6 billion
RFP: April 2011
Award: December 2011
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: This longtime multiple-award contract has been used by many agencies looking for a vehicle to buy hardware and software. The contract carries commercial items such as desktop PCs, laptop PCs and handheld devices. It also has lots for telecommunications equipment, scientific research workstations, software and support services.

9. Design, Development, Demonstration and Integration
Agency: Army Space and Missile Defense Command
Value: $5 billion
RFP: November 2010
Award: November 2011
Solicitation No: W9113MD3ISS10
Purpose: The contract will support development of requirements for missile defense, space and other warfighter solutions. Work will include platform and sensor technologies, communications networks, missiles, rockets and re-entry vehicles, and space technologies.

10. Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-3H
Agency: Army
Value: $5 billion
RFP: June 2011
Award: January 2012
Solicitation No.: W91QUZ10ITES3H
Purpose: This contract is used to acquire hardware such as Unix servers, Windows servers, workstations, desktop PCs, laptop PCs and storage systems. The Army also will use this contract to buy networking equipment, printers, video equipment and uninterruptible power supplies. This is a follow-on contract held by Apptis Inc., CDW Government, Dell Federal systems, IBM Corp., World Wide Technology and GTSI Corp.

11. Medicare Prescription Drug Integrity
Agency: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Value: $4 billion
RFP: March 2011
Award: September 2011
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: CMS will use this multiple-award contract to help implement Part D prescription drug benefit regulations. However, the regulations are not yet finalized. Services will include reviewing compliance plans, investigations and audits and developing data systems to track fraud and abuse. There are eight incumbents, including Hewlett Packard, Maximus, Perot Systems and Science Applications International Corp.

12. Automated Desktop Extended Processing Technology III
Agency: U.S. Postal Service
Value: $2 billion
RFP: January 2011
Award: April 2011
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: This contract will supply desktop PCs, mobile devices, peripherals and support services to the U.S. Postal Service. Services will include repair and maintenance. Services and products will be delivered across the country. Hewlett-Packard is the incumbent contractor.

13. Economic Growth for Poverty Reduction
Agency: U.S. Agency for International Development
Value: $2 billion
RFP: November 2010
Award: March 2011
Solicitation No.: AIDEGATEG4PR
Purpose: The contractors on this multiple-award procurement will work on a variety of stability fronts, including trade and investment, financial sector, economic opportunities, and private-sector competitiveness. The services and projects are geared toward alleviating poverty in developing countries by helping to build the governing structures needed for economic growth and stability. USAID has a variety of contractors working on these types of programs.

14. NASA Enterprise Data Center Consolidation
Agency: NASA
Value: $1.5 billion
RFP: March 2011
Award: December 2011
Solicitation No.: NNK09274726R
Purpose: NASA has 78 data centers with 15,000 servers. This contract will be used to rationalize management of the data centers, including where they are housed, hardware issues, hosting and what kind of infrastructure to put in place. The contract will be used to create a more uniform management and implementation plan across NASA. The agency has multiple contractors providing these services now, and it is expected that this will be a multiple-award, task-order contract.

15. Training and Management Assistance Support
Agency: Office of Personnel Management
Value: $1.45 billion
RFP: June 2011
Award: February 2012
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: This will be a five-year contract to support training, including the development of custom training and learning systems. Other services include developing training and products and services such as technology-based training products, instructor-led materials and knowledge management systems. There also will be solutions for the analysis and design of programs and other services such as human resources, consulting and business process engineering.

16. Global Information Grid Services Management — Engineering, Transition and Implementation
Agency: Defense Information Systems Agency
Value: $1.4 billion
RFP: January 2011
Award: September 2011
Solicitation No.: HC102810R2001
Purpose: The contract supports the Global Information Grid, including systems engineering and integration, architecture, telecommunication standards development, telecommunication network security and information systems engineering, IT systems, and other services. The contract is expected to be awarded to several small businesses. The current contract-holders are Science Applications International Corp. and SETA Corp.

17. Integrated Mission Planning, Training and Execution
Agency: NASA
Value: $980 million
RFP: November 2010
Award: March 2011
Solicitation No.: NNJ10ZHD002L
Purpose: Lockheed Martin Corp. is the incumbent on this contract, which supplies NASA with technical support for mission planning. Work is done at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston. Details on the acquisition strategy have not been released yet.

18. Expeditionary C4I Systems and Technical Support Services
Agency: Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
Value: $900 million
RFP: November 2010
Award: July 2011
Solicitation No.: N6523609R0202
Purpose: Services under this contract include systems engineering, test and evaluation, maintenance and site support, configuration management, logistics and training, and program management. The contract will need a top-secret clearance. This is a new contract, so there is no incumbent contractor.

19. Application Support Centers
Agency: Homeland Security Department
Value: $750 million
RFP: February 2011
Award: September 2011
Solicitation No.: N/A
Purpose: DHS’ Citizenship and Immigration Service continues to need support for its biometrics programs. Support includes biometrics capture, testing, program management and scheduling support. Northrop Grumman Corp. is the incumbent on the contract. The bureau is in the early stages of developing the recompete of this contract.

20. Advisory and Assistance Services for Global Engineering Integration and Technical Assistance 11
Agency: Air Force
Value: $650 million
RFP: March 2011
Award: January 2012
Solicitation No.: FA890311R8002
Purpose: This contract is used to support a variety of Air Force agencies with management and professional services, studies, analysis and evaluation services, and engineering and technical services. There are several incumbents on this long-running program, including Booz Allen Hamilton. Booz Allen captured more than half of the task orders issued under the program.

About the Author: Nick Wakeman is the editor of Washington Technology – 11/10/2010.