Commerce COMMITS to small biz

Commerce Department officials are working through bids from small businesses that want to be part of the Commerce Information Technology Solutions (COMMITS) NexGen contract.

A source selection team has finished the second round of evaluations, said Michael Sade, director of Commerce's Office of Acquisition Management. He did not specify how many bids the agency has received.

"That team has been working extremely hard," he said.

The contract will follow the successful COMMITS contract, designed for small businesses. Building on lessons learned the first time around, Commerce has added features to COMMITS NexGen to make it fairer for smaller firms.

For example, the contract divides small businesses into three tiers, grouping the smallest firms at the bottom and the largest ones at the top. Only the smaller companies will be allowed to bid for smaller tasks. While small companies, if they feel capable, can "compete up" and challenge larger small businesses, the larger ones cannot compete for awards at the lower tiers.

Sade, speaking at a breakfast meeting sponsored today by Federal Sources Inc., said there is a lot of work the government can still do to help small and entrepreneurial businesses in contracting. For example, agencies could evaluate larger firms on their subcontracting plans based on more than just the flow of dollars to small subcontractors.

"Are they mentoring small businesses?" he said. "Are they really helping them understand this marketplace? Pure dollars going to small business [as a measure] doesn't tell you the whole story."

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