GSA promotes STARS

General Services Administration officials are making the rounds to spread the word about 8(a)STARS, a new information technology contract awarded earlier this month. The acronym stands for Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services.

The vehicle will eventually replace 8(a)FAST, or the Federal Acquisition Services for Technology contract, said Mary Parks, director of GSA's small business governmentwide acquisition center. The older contract expires in October, and companies must finish contract work by October 2005.

More than 400 8(a) companies were awarded places on the STARS contract, which has a ceiling of $15 billion, she said. Small, disadvantaged firms are considered 8(a) companies. Information on these companies is now being added to the GSA Preferred online ordering system, a task due for completion by July 1.

STARS includes several measures that FAST was missing, she told a meeting of the Industry Advisory Council's Governmentwide Acquisition Contract shared interest group today. It requires companies to market themselves and bring in business, she said.

"We expect vendors to self-market and bring in at least $100,000 worth of business" in the contract's initial three-year base period, she said. Companies that don't meet that threshold will not have their contract extended, she said. STARS includes two two-year options after the base period ends.

One company on the FAST contract got its first task order under the contract recently, after years of waiting, she said. GSA officials want to avoid that situation with STARS.

Parks is based at GSA's Heartland Region in Kansas City, Mo. She and assistant regional administrator Steve Triplett, who also spoke at the IAC event, are meeting with officials at the Federal Technology Service field offices nationwide. As a provider of assisted procurement services, FTS is expected to be the single biggest customer for STARS, Parks said.

She also emphasized the importance for companies and agencies to use the contract properly. Practices such as splitting procurements and performing work that falls outside the scope of the contract won't be tolerated, she said.

"We're going to be looking over your shoulders," she said. "We have to be sure our contracts are being used properly."

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