COMMITS NexGen

COMMITS NexGen, which the Commerce Department expects to award early next year, will benefit from the department's experience with the first Commerce Information Technology Solutions contract.

Commerce has loaded the new

vehicle with safeguards to protect smaller small businesses. The contract divides small businesses into three tiers, grouping the smallest firms at the bottom and the largest ones at the top. Only the smaller companies will be allowed to bid for smaller tasks.

The criteria that determine if a business is small vary depending on the type of business. Some are measured by the number of employees, some by revenue. Some industries lose the small status at different points than others.

Without the tiers, a 1,400-person small business could challenge a 10-person start-up for the same work, a situation Commerce wants to prevent. Under COMMITS NexGen, the smaller businesses can compete up if they feel comfortable taking on the larger firms, said Michael Sade, director of Commerce's Office of Acquisition Management. Larger companies will not be able to compete down except when they are the incumbent contractor on a particular project.

The contract also will require businesses to recertify their size every three years to make sure they remain in the appropriate tier.

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