Feds to merge two GWACs, retire others

The General Services Administration will consolidate two of its governmentwide acquisition contracts and allow several specialized versions to die in an effort to streamline federal information technology offerings, officials said today.

The Millennia and Applications 'N Support for Widely-diverse End-User Requirements (ANSWER) contracts will be combined into a single replacement contract in 2005 , said Neal Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition at GSA's Federal Supply Service. The agency will stop making awards under the old contracts six months after the new one becomes effective, even though Millennia was not set to expire until 2009 and ANSWER in 2007.

The contracts cover a gamut of IT services, Fox said. The new one will combine the best features of the two contracts, including greater flexibility in pricing to include time-and-materials pricing, cost-plus and fixed-price models.

GSA will also retire eight narrowly focused contracts, mostly by not renewing them when they expire over the next several years.

"What we're trying to do is refocus our strategies along the lines of more broad-based vehicles and fewer specific vehicles," Fox said. "We've found that the specifically focused vehicles duplicate what's in the broader vehicles and confuse our customers."

Vendors that depend on the specialized contracts should get on the GSA schedules as soon as possible, he added.

Contractors should also expect to see the competitive landscape change, said Scott Orbach, president of consulting firm EZGSA in Bethesda, Md. "The vendors that are the incumbents are going to have certain challenges to the stability of their niche, potentially, because there will be a realignment," he said. "It may open opportunities for some new vendors to participate where they haven't been before."

The moves come at the recommendation of GSA's Contract Vehicle Review Board, which has studied the contracts to identify and eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies. The current actions affect only GWACs, not GSA's popular schedules system, Fox said.

"From the government side we'll see some simplification of the rules," Orbach said. "You'll see wider competition because those narrower offerings will go away and you'll see everybody coming from a larger pool of vendors."

Millennia Lite, an IT governmentwide contract designed to let medium-sized companies compete more effectively, will not be affected, Fox added. "We will need to review that business case in the future," he said. "We think Millennia Lite offers value to the customers."

The contract review board will continue analyzing GSA's contract offerings, and the agency may make further changes in the future, Fox said.

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