The Pentagon’s gargantuan needs for private-sector support have fueled a sector of the defense contracting market known as professional services. This is an industry dominated by large firms but also one where very small companies — even those with just a handful of employees that have the right skills and background — have competed well.
By virtue of the increased demand for technical and professional support services at defense agencies and military commands, clusters of small business contractors have sprouted around the country. In areas like Hampton, Virginia, for instance, lucrative contracting opportunities from U.S. Air Combat Command have lured dozens of companies, many owned by military veterans and former government executives.
So it came as a complete shock to these companies when Air Combat Command announced earlier this year that it would jettison the current process for hiring support contractors and transfer the work to a pool of firms selected by the General Services Administration. The GSA vehicle, known as “one acquisition solution for integrated services” or Oasis, is one that that Pentagon and other federal agencies have begun to adopt. More than $1.3 billion worth of Defense Department contracts already have migrated to Oasis since the program was launched in 2013.
Air Combat Command, now an Oasis customer, has informed contractors that it would discontinue its “contracted advisory and assistance services,” or CAAS, multiple-award contract. This has caused consternation among small businesses that currently are prime contractors under CAAS or other Pentagon-unique programs.
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