Alliant protests won’t stop GSA

The General Services Administration is stuck at the starting gate with its latest major information technology contract, Alliant.

Seven companies have filed eight protests against the contract’s award, and GSA must await a Government Accountability Office decision. GAO has until early December to uphold or dismiss the protests.

Seven unsuccessful bidders filed protests including STG, which filed two. The others are Advanced Technology Systems, Artel, Client Network Services, Nortel Government Solutions, Centech Group and Stanley.

The Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract is a five-year contract with one five-year option and a ceiling of $50 billion. Agencies will use it to buy IT applications, infrastructure components and end-to-end services. On July 31, GSA awarded spots on the contract to 29 vendors and rejected 37.

Michael Golden, GAO’s associate general counsel, said all the companies protested the evaluation of their bids and their exclusion from the contract. “Each company’s protest is somewhat unique, and there are no general trends to discuss,” Golden said.

GAO is treating the protests separately and will request a report from GSA for each one. In the meantime, GSA officials said, they plan to do as much as possible to prepare for launching the contract. The agency’s goal is to hit the ground running, said Jim Ghiloni, Alliant program manager and director of GWAC programs at GSA, during a recent conference about Alliant. While the protests are under consideration, GSA can tell agencies about Alliant and educate its own employees about the contract’s details, Ghiloni said.

“Many customers don’t know what a GWAC is,” he said, and they don’t understand the differences between buying from a GSA schedule and buying from a GWAC.

Ghiloni said he expects Alliant to draw customers, especially as IT acquisitions become increasingly complex and weighted with requirements.

“I don’t think you have to sell Alliant; you just have to make them aware of it,” he said. “It sells itself.”

John Johnson, assistant commissioner at the Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, said GSA has much to prove with Alliant. “It’s not really speed that we’re after,” Johnson said. “It’s consistency. It’s a matter of doing what we said we were going to do.”

If GSA fails on that front, the agency will have a credibility issue, Johnson said.

GSA is taking another new approach with Alliant, Ghiloni said. It plans to track customer spending under the contract so agencies can see where their money goes.

“Customers have a hunger for data,” he said. Tracking spending information will also give GSA a glimpse into how the market is changing, he said, so the agency can adapt.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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