Procurement

Firm files second OASIS protest

contract signing

The company that filed an agency-level protest of the General Services Administration's OASIS multiple award contracts is pressing its argument that the procurement vehicle straightjackets small businesses by not allowing them to compete against larger providers via joint ventures.

Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co. filed a second protest of One Acquisition Solutions for Integrated Services (OASIS) on Sept. 21, this one with the Government Accountability Office, according to the firm's head of practice, Rudy Sutherland. The latest filing is designed to refocus the protest on competitive issues.

GSA's protest official denied AAIC's earlier protest on Sept. 12.

A GSA spokesperson said the agency was optimistic that the new protest from AAIC would also be resolved in the agency's favor.

Sutherland said he eschewed an appeal of GSA's Sept. 12 denial so AAIC could zero in on what the firm sees as restrictive competitive issues in OASIS, to be judged by GAO.

AAIC's original GSA protest contended that OASIS did not allow small businesses to form joint ventures to compete for contracts among larger competitors. The new one makes much the same case, before a different judge.

Although GSA has said it worked hard to develop a small business-specific OASIS contract as well as an unrestricted RFP, Sutherland contends that the small business version limits the businesses bidding on it and the agencies using it.

"As currently structured, GSA OASIS (both solicitations taken together) will allow Bigs to be awarded task-orders, even those that might be otherwise performed by Smalls, without any public notice or the checks and balances provided for under [the Competition in Contracting Act]," said Sutherland.

Ultimately, said Sutherland, big contractors could come to dominate the OASIS market, with the results being "the equivalent of Wall Street in the '80s when the financial markets were deregulated and large banks were left to pursue their own interests unabated."

"This is as much about fighting to maintain access to actionable procurement information for commercial survival as it is our profit motive and desire for a level competitive playing field," he said. "The contract framework of OASIS will serve as the benchmark for federal procurement for decades to come."

In a statement emailed to FCW, GSA argued that it has worked overtime to accommodate industry and federal OASIS participants. "GSA has made it a top priority to work closely with both our industry and federal partners throughout the OASIS RFP process," the agency said. "As part of our strategy to ensure small business opportunity and participation, the OASIS solicitation includes a program called OASIS Small Business, which is a 100 percent small business set aside."

The agency said industry should take some time to understand the RFPs before submitting proposals.

"GSA urges industry to consider both solicitations carefully, and to submit any questions to clarify any confusion around small business participation," it said.

Over its 10-year life, the OASIS government wide contract could be worth $60 billion, including $13 billion for small businesses.

About the Author

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.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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