Alliant contract takes shape

Officials for the General Services Administration are considering a 15-year term and a $150 billion ceiling, with 25 percent reserved for small businesses for the Alliant technology contract.

Alliant is being proposed as the successor to six governmentwide technology contracts: Millennia; Applications 'n Support for Widely-Diverse End-User Requirements (ANSWER); Safeguard; Virtual Data Center; Disaster Recovery; and Access Certificates for Electronic Services (ACES). The consolidation comes because GSA's Contract Vehicle Review Board determined last year that the contracts are unnecessarily duplicative.

Bill Archambeault, GSA's procurement contracting officer for Alliant said he plans to release a presolicitation notice later this week. The Office of Management and Budget has not yet approved the plan, Archambeault said

Alliant's formal request for proposal is set for release June 1. Archambeault said he wants to award the contract by May 2005.

The agreement will include common information technology products and services, such as security, information assurance, business process re-engineering, communications, Web development and modeling and simulation, he said.

Alliant will probably have about 20 prime contractors, Archambeault said. Small businesses will be encouraged to bid as coalitions rather than singly, but he wants 25 percent of the contracts value to go to small firms. The 15-year term is divided into a five-year base and two five-year options.

Small businesses will have to recertify their size status either annually or every five years, Archambeault said. GSA is waiting for the Small Business Administration to finalize a policy and will follow it once it is available.

The contract will also feature "ramp on, ramp off" options, which allow GSA to add businesses or take them off at specified points during the term. That's partly to allow newcomers to join and partly to guard against a dwindling field of players should some of the prime contractors merge during the life contract.

It's also protection from underperforming companies, Archambeault said. "To put it bluntly, if you don't perform, you're gone," he said. "There are plenty of people who can do the work. It's not fair for us to carry deadwood when they're waiting in the wings."

Even though GSA is beginning to discuss the contract, nothing about it is settled yet, Archambeault said.

"All I have is a business plan that I'm forwarding [to OMB] and hoping it will be approved," he said. "We're still very early."

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