After a troubled start, officials at the General Services Administration said they are pleased with first-year sales on the signature multibillion-dollar contract federal agencies can use to buy information technology services.
Alliant, which GSA launched on May 1, 2009, has posted $1.2 billion in sales as of Sept. 3, for fiscal 2010. The agency expects sales to jump at least $2 billion when it awards contracts to companies supporting the construction of the Homeland Security Department’s National Capital Region headquarters in Washington.
“Sales are going very well,” said Casey Kelley, director of GSA’s enterprise governmentwide acquisition contract Center West, which manages Alliant.
The program, which initially was scheduled to kick off in 2007, had a slow start. In March 2008, a federal judge ruled in favor of a protest filed by eight companies that submitted unsuccessful bids for the original Alliant contract, saying GSA had been “arbitrary and capricious” in making awards to 29 companies. Agency procurement specialists reworked the contract and a year later gave 59 companies a chance to sell their wares through the contract. Alliant has a $50 billion ceiling and options to operate for 10 years.
Since the program went live, GSA awarded 66 task orders, with many more expected before the end of the fiscal year, Kelley said. In September 2009, for example, Alliant filled 13 contracts.
Of the 66 orders, 48 were for the Defense Department. The department accounted for $1 billion of the $1.2 billion in sales, with about $660 million of that for the Air Force, Kelley said.
GSA managers said they were pleased with sales, given the contract’s turbulent start. “We overcame a lot of challenges,” Kelley said. “There was a lot of undeservedly negative [media coverage] with the contract.”
Of the 59 vendors on the contract, 29 have been issued at least one task order. “We never expected all 59 to bid on every acquisition that comes up,” said Mike O’Neill, director of the GSA GWAC program. “Each decides what they go after. We provide them a level playing field to compete.”
“We’re very pleased with the diversity of those Alliant clients that have won,” Kelley added.
Some vendors also are pleased with the business Alliant has afforded them. “It’s been fantastic, better than expected,” said David MacRae, executive vice president of Smartronix, a global solutions provider.
As a midtier company, Smartronix is lost when competing against larger companies, according to MacRae. He said the company has won six task order awards on Alliant and GSA has been “really getting the word out” for smaller companies.
Although Alliant’s first-year sales are slightly off the pace to reach the $50 billion ceiling over 10 years, GSA expects the contract to grow. But the “proof is in the pudding,” O’Neill said. “They have proved the ability to provide competitive solutions in a way that undermines risk.”
Kelley said he wouldn’t be surprised if Alliant’s sales exceeded a total of $6 billion by its second year anniversary, May 1, 2011.