Is OASIS too complex?
- By Mark Rockwell
- Aug 01, 2013
Although the requests for proposal for the General Services Administration's new OASIS contract were developed in close consultation with stakeholders, some say the results could be daunting for the uninitiated - or even a few of the initiated.
GSA released the RFPs for the next-generation One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) contract on July 31. The contract was designed to be a one-stop management and consulting, professional engineering, logistics, and finance services contracting vehicle that would provide more uniformity and less redundancy.
GSA said it worked closely with industry to draft the RFPs. As it released the documents, it noted that earlier this year its OASIS team had been invited to provide feedback on a variety of important issues by submitting white papers. It also said it met with more than 110 contractor responders in one-on-one sessions to get comprehensive contracting options.
But, in doing all that spade work, some industry stakeholders said the GSA produced RFPs that are innovative but possibly a little too complex.
"GSA had a very transparent and interactive process, to its credit," Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said in an interview with FCW. But he cited a vendor-scoring table as an example of needless complexity. While providing detailed criteria that could be useful, its 15 categories of evaluation that use 40 specific questions to award points for favorability might be too much information for some to digest.
On the other hand, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and general counsel at the Professional Services Council, the table provides a "self-test, or open book test for companies" that want to bid on the contract. "It will eliminate some of the mystery around their actual capabilities. It's innovative."
Chvotkin praised the program for offering unprecedented flexibility for services contracts, but cautioned it could take some getting used to.
For instance, he said, the RFPs under OASIS will use North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code to pool vendors from which federal users will choose for contracts under OASIS. With various pools of potential providers, the selection and contracting process isn't as straightforward as ordering off of a schedule, Chvotkin said. "Ordering agencies will have to do some work" in drawing up contracts under OASIS. "There are some advantages over ordering off a schedule, but this is not the easiest multiple award vehicle to work with."
He also warned that the short response time for the two RFPs -- one is unrestricted, while the other is dedicated to small business --, will require light-footed and sharp-witted action by vendors. They are due Sept. 17.
"It's commendable that GSA got the RFP out on time," said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners.
Allen predicted the detailed responses would serve a useful purpose: they'll "make it obvious to companies whether they should bid or go no-bid," and potentially decrease the likelihood of protests over the RFPs.
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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