PACT contract goes to three 8(a) small-business vendors

The Federal Emergency Management Agency next month will award the $30 million Program for Acquisition of Current Technology (PACT) contract to three 8(a) small-business vendors, who will compete for the quick delivery of desktop PC and local-area network products.

Award winners are Government Micro Resources Inc., Pulsar Data Systems and Data Procurement Corp., according to Corwin Kirby, contract specialist for FEMA. However, he added, the agency has not yet signed individual agreements with the three vendors.

When FEMA needs new computer equipment to respond to a disaster, it cannot afford to wait the month or two allowed for the delivery of products under the terms and conditions of the General Services Administration schedule. The PACT contract specifies a shorter, but undisclosed, delivery period.

GMR was the incumbent on the previous contract, which was in force from 1992 until 1995. When it expired last summer, FEMA temporarily extended the contract, but since that extension expired it has bought products from the GSA schedule and Air Force Desktop IV contracts, Kirby said.

Enjoying the Participation

Resellers enjoy the feeling of participating in FEMA's recovery efforts, said Barbara Harriss, senior account manager for DPC, which was also responsible for the preceding contract at GMR.

"You are on call 24 hours a day, and you feel a part of the things going on," she said. "We are very excited about being able to work with FEMA."

Pulsar Data declined to comment until the award is made official, and GMR did not respond by press time.

PACT will provide PC hardware and software, and networking hardware and software, including servers. The specific brands and products available will not be known until the contracts are officially awarded.

Among the FEMA programs PACT will support are Response and Recovery, Disaster Relief, Civil Defense, Continuity of Government, the National Earthquake Program and responses to other disasters, such as floods and fires, according to Federal Sources Inc.

PACT will not necessarily be FEMA's primary procurement vehicle, but the contract has certain guaranteed minimums, Kirby said. For day-to-day purchases, the GSA schedule will remain attractive. But when delivery time is an issue, the agency will be able to rely on PACT.

"With the GSA schedule, the contractors are subject to the terms and conditions of GSA," Kirby said. "That is a poor delivery response time for disaster response."

PACT will also likely require vendors to deliver products to the disaster sites where FEMA sets up field offices, Harriss said, but they will probably not be required to set up or install the products.

"These contracts are more broad product-based rather than services-based," she said.

While the better response time mandated in PACT might push prices slightly higher than the more liberal delivery times of the GSA schedule, the triple award is designed to keep prices down through competition.

"That is the whole idea," Kirby said. "There is the competition factor to make sure that the prices are reasonable."

The multiple award is a sign of the times in the uncertain 8(a) program, Harriss said. "The award is very typical of what is happening in the 8(a) program," she said.

If the program is discontinued and contractors fall on hard times, the multiple award ensures that FEMA will still have suppliers.

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