Interior, GSA ask industry about incentives

Interior Department officials want advice from industry on preferred incentives for getting good systems administrative services.

Interior scrapped an earlier solicitation for such services. Now, as they rethink their approach, officials are asking industry serious questions about incentives that might entice the best companies to do their best work in this tough budget climate.

The department canceled a proposed contract Dec. 1 for systems operations and administration for its National Business Center. Officials found that their strategy was’t clear, based on feedback from companies, according to a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Officials intend to make their solicitation more understandable while making improvements on efficiency and exploring cost-cutting initiatives. To do that, the department issued a request for information to gather input from industry concerning preferred incentives for a contract for administrative services.

Officials are asking industry to suggest incentives and disincentives that can drive successful performance from contractors, as well as increase efficiency and improved costs. They want to know if monetary or nonmonetary incentives would do the trick or if certain award terms could be a motivator.

Interior also wants to know about the downsides, the complications and conditions that could arise from a given incentive.

Department officials haven’t decided on a specific date for the release of the new solicitation, the notice states. The contract was planned to be set aside for 8(a) small businesses as a performance-based indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract and an initial task order.

While Interior releases its RFI, the General Services Administration also started a conversation to tap industry insights on incentives.

The Office of Management and Budget has ordered agencies to cut their management support services spending by 15 percent in fiscal 2012, and GSA officials wonder what incentives will keep a company’s standards high despite the reduced funds available. 

“Given that GSA is anticipating moving into the cost-reimbursable realm with this potential acquisition, is the opportunity enough to keep your firm motivated to meet very high standards of quality? If not, what nonmonetary incentives might GSA consider when structuring the solicitation?” Lisa Maguire, a GSA Integrations blogger, wrote Nov. 28 on GSA’s Interact website.

Cost-reimbursement contracts place the most risk on the government and provide incentives to companies for good performance. However, the Barack Obama administration prefers contracts with a price agreed to at the beginning.

Procurement officials have encouraged these conversations with industry to tap their knowledge. Regulations also give contracting officers cover for reaching out despite facing issues, such as bid protests by losing bidders.

At a panel discussion Dec. 1 with the Congressional Smart Contracting Caucus, Lesley Field, the soon to be acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said agencies should not “chill the dialogue” with industry, which has a lot of useful information to help agencies.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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