HQ, regional offices set to kick off FAST

Contracting personnel at General Services Administration headquarters hope to issue a solicitation this month for a $1 billion program to channel agencies' information technology requirements to small disadvantaged 8(a) vendors as well as contractors holding schedule and governmentwide contracts.

Officials at GSA's Kansas City Mo. and Fort Worth Texas regional offices said last week that they expect to issue solicitations for their portions of the program within a month. Although the program will be managed regionally the regional offices will compete with each other for agencies' business.

Jim Arrington director of contract services in GSA's IT Integration Division said the regions will award an unspecified number of five-year 8(a) contracts that will serve an estimated 65 percent of the requirements covered by the Federal Acquisition Services for Technology (FAST) program. The remaining requirements are expected to be satisfied by GSA schedule and multiple-award contracts.

He said GSA headquarters will award its contract around the end of the year closely followed by regional contract awards. Vendors that win contracts will receive only a minimal guarantee of revenue."Vendors will be competitively selected and the most prominent evaluation criteria will be past performance and the financial capability of the firm " Arrington said. "As requirements come in each contract holder will be given fair consideration for each order."

GSA will post requirements on an Internet-accessible bulletin board and give vendors a brief amount of time to submit bids on the work. Most task orders will be awarded within five days and sources at each of the three regions working on solicitations said they plan to add a 1 percent surcharge to each award to cover administrative expenses.

A source at the agency's Kansas City office where the concept for FAST originated said personnel there expect to issue a solicitation to 8(a) vendors by the end of the month. He said officials in the region expect to handle more than $500 million in FAST business next year.

Charles Hale director of the FAST program for the Fort Worth region said contracting personnel there will team up with their counterparts at five or six other regional offices to issue a solicitation cooperatively. By working together the regions will be able to pool resources to award their own contracts instead of paying a surcharge of less than 1 percent to Washington or Kansas City for handling work orders emanating from their regions.

"If the regions use the Washington contracts it would cost them a certain percentage of their proceeds [to cover contracting costs] " Hale said. "We want people from those regions to help us with source selection and contract management so it will be their contract as well as ours."

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