Alliant 2 is Out/Polaris is In

After a year of protests and federal court hearings, the Government Accountability Office has canceled its $15 billion Alliant 2 Small Business contract. GAO is calling the replacement contract “Polaris.” A GSA spokesperson said, “Polaris will not only guide small businesses through the federal market, it will also help GSA customer agencies through the acquisition of IT service-based solutions, and give GSA a chance to improve our offerings and set the agency on a solid course for the future.” (GSAblogs.gsa.gov, October 1, 2020)

Administration sees the industrial base broadening by:

  • Pricing Strategy: GSA plans to increase its pool of qualified small businesses that serve federal agencies. GSA will employ Section 876 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing contract awards to qualifying contractors without consideration of prices for hourly services. Focus on price competition ultimately takes place at the task order level.
  • On-ramps: Allows for an expanded industrial base as technology changes and for vendors to be considered on the GWAC following an initial award period.
  • Opportunity Expansion: An increased opportunity for HUBZone and woman-owned businesses.
  • Embracing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Polaris will provide agencies with access to emerging technology providers, especially those offering artificial intelligence, automated technologies, blockchain, 5G implementation, cybersecurity, and cloud. (ibid)

The vendor evaluation strategy will be similar to that used in the Veterans Technology Services 2 and Alliant 2 contracts. Both were guided by industry comments. FAS may utilize an online proposal submission tool to speed up Polaris contract awards, as well as a modified evaluation strategy. (Federal Computer Week, October 5, 2020)

Questions about the Polaris evaluation strategy and how your company might do business on the platform? Give us a call.

Can Alliant 2 Be “Newer, Better” ?

GSA has finally put us all out of our Alliant 2 Small Business misery. Last week they canceled the acquisition contract. The original award was wrought with confusion, protests, and court disputes, so cancellation isn’t that surprising. (Nextgov, July 2, 2020)

However, GSA promises that the small business IT instrument will live on in a newer, better solicitation. Keep your eyes peeled for the larger and newly structured solicitation. No word yet on the release date of the new solicitation. (ibid)

Laura Stanton, acting GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Information Technology when announcing the cancelation said, “The needs of our customer agencies, small business partners, and industry partners are rapidly evolving, GSA is committed to finding ways for our GWACs to reflect the current IT marketplace so that we can maximize the opportunities for small and women-owned, HUBzone, service-disables veteran-owned, and 8(a) small businesses to contract with the government for cybersecurity, emerging technology, and IT supply chain risk management needs.”

Stanton also said, “we are working to expand the number of master contract awards to highly qualified small businesses on our GWACs, while focusing on technology requirements that support our customer agencies for future mission success.” (ibid)

Questions about the cancellation and or the upcoming solicitation? Give us a call.

Show Me the Money! All the Money!

End of fiscal year 2019 spending will likely exceed that of 2018. So much so that hours are being extended for the largest Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts. (Federal Computer Week, August 30, 2019)

A few contributing factors precipitating  the uptick in spending:

  • The credit card threshold for micro-purchases increased from $3,500 to $10,000
  • A stable budget allows agencies the ideal scenario to plan and use their funding.
  • The last day of the fiscal year falls on a weekday this year. (ibid)

For instance, the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) expect a very busy September. They have been designated “best in class” across all three of their GWACs, which will likely bring in additional work. as extended hours in September as does the Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP). According to Joanne Woytek, manager for NASA’s SEWP,  processing systems have been updated to a High Availability System. The update took place earlier in the year and additional staff was added overall not just to respond to the additional spending in September.

NITAAC has improved its e-GOS next-generation customer ordering portal, which mirrors commercial online shopping and makes shopping easier for contracting officers. Item comparisons and photos will be part of the buying experience. The changes will be a key factor in streamlining the purchasing process, thus making ordering easier and faster. (ibid)

Not to be outdone, GSA also expects September to be the busiest month of the year for their Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts. (ibid)

Questions about the September buying frenzy and how you can take advantage? Give us a call.

FAR Changes

With the end of the Fiscal Year looming, the push is on to exhaust agency budgets. In an effort to make acquisitions move through the process more quickly and smoothly, DOD, GSA, and NASA have issued an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). The amendment fine-tunes the  FAR and eliminates a step in the acquisition process. (Fedscoop, July 15, 2019)

Per the FAR, agencies were required to justify the best procurement approach when using GSA’s IT Schedule 70, Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts, or assisted acquisition solutions. As of June 5, the new FAR amendment allows agencies to skip that step. Agencies are now able to quickly find GSA IT category contracts and acquisition solutions. (ibid)

According to Bill Zielinski, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition services office, agencies “can now identify and quickly use GSA IT Category contracts and acquisition solutions, especially as they embark on their end-of-year IT spending and acquisition efforts.” Zielinski feels the new change to the FAR reduces the administrative burden for agencies procuring through GSA’s IT Schedule 70 or through GWACs such as 8(a) STARS 2 and Alliant 2, as well as through assisted acquisition programs. (Federal Computer Week, July 15, 2019)

Curious about the new FAR language and how it affects your GSA schedule? Give us a call and we can review it with you.

 

 

The Eagle (II) is Not Landing

DHS will not be recompeting their EAGLE II IT services contract when it expires in 2020. They are moving toward a strategy called EAGLE Next Gen, which allows them to rely on existing contracts in order to meet IT services needs. Agile development and special or niche mission needs will be met by smaller targeted contracts competed as necessary. (Nextgov, April 20, 2019)

The EAGLE Next Gen strategy is just that, a strategy whereby DHS would use already established governmentwide acquisition contracts or GWACs. These include:

  • the National Institutes of Health’s CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business
  • GSA’s Alliant 2, 8(a) STARS II
  • GSA’s VETS 2

When requirements cannot be met by this strategy, DHS will build in-house contracts.

So far, DHS is beginning to build an in-house contract for cloud and data center optimization. Over 100 responses were received from their initial RFI. Most likely, resulting RFPs will ultimately be the family of contracts under DHS Next Gen, and are expected in the Fall. (ibid)

Some Homeland Security components are still using EAGLE II to support their agile development. Work with each of the components is at various phases of the procurement process. Each component has different requirements; therefore procurements will be specialized to meet individual needs. (ibid)

The future procurement strategy is far from finalized. There may be full and open competition or a blanket purchase agreement using pre-vetted vendors.

Would you like to learn more about the EAGLE Next Gen strategy and where you might fit in? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.