Small biz takes $409M Energy pact

Under the Energy Department's leadership, a small business has taken a large bite out of the federal procurement pie.

Energy awarded a $409 million task order Jan. 15 for information technology support to RS Information Systems Inc. (RSIS) of McLean, Va. RSIS graduates from the 8(a) program next month.

"This isn't so much about an IT contract, but about a major acquisition to a small business," said Karen Evans, the department's chief information officer. "It is discussed a lot — any and everything we can do for small business we should do. We just happen to be an IT shop who did this."

The award helps the Bush administration meet a goal to increase competitive bidding.

"Reaching out to small and disadvantaged businesses will give small-business owners the jump-start they need to create new jobs, support their workers and improve our economy," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.

Under the five-year deal, RSIS will provide Energy with such crucial e-government services as cybersecurity, telecommunications and enterprise architecture. DOE plans to use the task order to fulfill another Bush goal to expand e-government. "This was a key tool we needed to have in place," Evans said.

The task order will be performance-based, and DOE and RSIS are negotiating service-level agreements, which will include, for example, network outage response times. The contract includes semi-annual assessments to determine the award fee percentage RSIS receives.

"I think it's a defining moment, not only for RSIS but for small business as a whole," said Rodney Hunt, the company's president and chief executive officer. "It says, 'See, there are competitive, viable small businesses of this size that can handle, and have the past performance to handle, a job of this size.'"

RSIS, a 1,400-person operation, had $190 million in revenue last year. It handles a range of IT contracts for agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Department officials were sold on the company's "teaming for results" approach, Evans said. Its partners include four heavy hitters — Science Applications International Corp., IBM Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton and Qwest Communications International Inc. "We certainly need that expertise," said Rob Wilson, a program manager for evaluation at DOE.

The agreement consolidates work provided under task orders — through Telecommunications Integrator Services and Information Technology Omnibus Procurement II — that expire this spring.

The new deal could include managed services, a relatively new procurement strategy in which an agency pays a company for technology solutions that help solve a problem, officials said.

"We have an obligation to be successful in all we do to blaze a trail," Hunt said. "I think we're a pioneer of a coming, larger trend."

Energy used the Commerce Department's Commerce Information Technology Solutions contract, which "provided the best cost and scope," said Laura Rodin, a DOE resource manager. With it, the procurement process took six months.

"It's a good deal for RSIS, but it's also a good deal for [Commerce] in terms of establishing itself in the [governmentwide acquisition contracts] market," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

***

And the winners are...

RS Information Systems Inc.'s team includes the following partners, divided into two groups:

Large companies:

* Booz Allen Hamilton

* IBM Corp.

* Qwest Communications International Inc.

* Science Applications International Corp.

Small businesses:

* AC Technologies Inc.

* ActioNet Inc.

* Advanced Systems Development Inc.

* Computer & Hi-tech Management Inc.

* e-Management Consultants Inc.

* Highland Technology Services Inc.

* NCI Information Systems Inc.

* Planet Technologies Inc.

* SystaLex Corp.

* TranTech Inc

The RSIS team beat QSS Group Inc., STG Inc. and ITS Services Inc., which had teams that included DOE incumbents Affiliated Computer Services Inc., DynCorp, EDS and Verizon, according to RSIS.

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