Government expected to hire more small businesses

Prediction: The near future will see more small business contracting and brand-new governmentwide contracts.

Small business contracting has had a pivotal year and will continue seeing significant growth rates in the federal acquisition space, said a panelist in a discussion on federal acquisition hosted by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management

The Dec. 8 luncheon discussion on indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracting trends and techniques brought together officials from NASA, the General Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, AAST/Technical and Management Resources, Inc.

“IDIQ contracting is very, very important, and it represents a truly significant portion of the federal marketplace” said Nancy Suslov, director of civilian business development at Technical and Management Resources, Inc. “If you’re not tuned into that market, you’re really missing a significant part of the marketplace.”

The Obama administration’s 25-point plan to reform federal IT has been one of drivers of the IDIQ marketplace, particularly in the areas of data center consolidation and cloud computing adoption, Suslov said. Another trend has been the focus on small businesses, Suslov said, with the White House issuing a number of memorandums last and this year on the use of small businesses. A Feb. 11, 2011 memo from the Office of Management and Budget, for example, emphasized methods to increase small business participation in federal contracting.

However, it was not until Nov. 2 of this year that small business orders could be set aside on an existing IDIQ on a GSA schedule, Suslov said. The date marked the event when administration officials released an interim rule about revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to match the fluctuation toward task- and delivery-order contracts, including governmentwide acquisition contracts. “Now, every single IDIQ contract and every single schedule contain a mechanism to use small-business requirements,” Suslov said.

Baseline contracts alone represent 60 percent of federal IT budget, and according to Suslov, the trend seems to move toward nearly 80 percent of the federal IT budget going through IDIQ contracts. Not only does this drift have an impact on how agencies do business and their planned forecasting, but it also affects the daily duties of business development professionals and market researchers, she noted.

“There’s a lot of bad press about GSA schedules, but all said and done, it is the mainstay of the IDIQ contracting represented at this point,” she said. “If you’re not doing business on a GSA schedule, you’re missing out on a major opportunity.”

In the near future, probably even during the current administration, Suslov said, IDIQs will see higher growth rates than the market normal. Small business contracting will continue to expand, and brand new governmentwide IDIQs will emerge, she noted.

“Watch out for new GSA-IDIQs called Integrations,” Suslov said. “In my mind, it’s going to be like the civilian version of importing and combining both professional services and IT.”

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