Eight to share $840M support services contract

The General Services Administration ended the year in keeping with the holidays, giving contracts to all eight finalists on its $840 million Multiple Award Indefinite Quantity (MAIQ) support services program.

The announcement is part of a growing trend toward awarding federal contracts to multiple vendors who must then compete head-to-head for purchase orders. The MAIQ winners will compete against each other for task orders for a range of support services to federal agencies over the next five years.

The eight winning vendors are Advanced Technology Systems Inc., Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., Dynamics Research Corp., J.G. Van Dyke & Associates Inc., Science Applications International Corp., Systems Research and Applications Corp. and VGS Inc. These companies were the only ones remaining in competition for the contracts following a downselect last spring.

The procurement will replace existing Federal Systems Integration and Management (Fedsim) contracts that offer such services as acquisition support, systems integration, satellite communications and business process re-engineering.

Lawrence Cohan, deputy commissioner of GSA's Office of Information Technology Integration, where Fedsim resides, said the projected value of $840 million was based on past work performed by his agency, though it was inflated to reflect what Cohan believes will be the broad appeal of the program.

"We anticipate that once it is known how easy and low-cost this is, agencies will flock to it," he said. "We may even see $840 million worth of business before the five years is over, and [we'll] have to put in a replacement contract early."

Cohan said each of the eight vendors will be given equal opportunity to compete for orders relayed to Fedsim from agency customers.

In most cases, GSA will select recipients for work orders based on oral proposals presented by the contractors to Fedsim officials. Vendors will not be allowed to protest Fedsim's decisions.

"We intend to make this as streamlined as possible," Cohan said. "There will be a lot less bid- and proposal-preparation expenditures by vendors and a lot less taxpayer money spent on evaluating proposals."

Bob Dornan, senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc., said the strategy may result in fewer delays but could cause problems for some vendors down the line when they find they are not getting substantial business from Fedsim and have no recourse to protest.

"Right now, they are probably thinking this is a wonderful thing," Dornan said. "But a year from now, some of them might realize the downside of it."

Winning vendors said they welcome the opportunity to compete with each other and to leverage their marketing expertise.

A CSC spokesman, for example, said his company will have a leg up on the competition because of its success on the Defense Department's Defense Enterprise Integration Services contract, which employs a strategy similar to MAIQ.

Mark Zoellner, director of marketing at Abacus Technology, a subcontractor to Van Dyke & Associates, said his company has the advantage of previous work on a similar program operated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Each vendor is guaranteed at least $100,000 worth of Fedsim business, Cohan said, but he said it would be unlikely that any of the contractors would not exceed that minimum. Fedsim is already accepting work orders from agencies and will funnel some of its backlog of orders to the MAIQ vendors, Cohan said.

"Fedsim has a lot of unfilled orders," he said. "Projects that have not been committed to another vehicle will probably be transferred to this."

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