GSA mulls recompete of contract

GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock) 

The General Services Administration granted IBM a six-month $16 million extension on its contract to operate and modernize the system as the agency considers whether to put the business up for bidding.

The extension was announced in a contracting document dated Aug. 13 that cited an urgent need to keep IBM on the job while the agency explores the possibility of a competitive offering.

IBM has held the System for Award Management Architecture and Operations Contract Services contract for eight years, and it is leading the effort to modernize the system of systems that government agencies and vendors use to manage hundreds of billions in government contracts annually.

IBM's contract expired Aug. 14. GSA had intended to award IBM another long-term deal, but according to contracting documents, that move was overturned because of a ruling that more market research needs to be conducted to support a decision to justify a sole source award.

The agency touted IBM's rating in a recent performance assessment.

"IBM's performance is solid and continues to improve over the course of this contract. They have moved from the satisfactory/good level to the very good/excellent level in many areas. Their processes have matured. Their knowledge base continues to grow. IBM continues to partner with the government to overcome challenges and displays strong commitment to program success," the document stated.

GSA is in the midst of a major modernization of the SAM ecosystem, which touches every aspect of civilian and defense contracting, from solicitation to tracking spending. The effort has been in progress since 2010, and the slow pace of the project has generated some ire on Capitol Hill, most notably from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who threatened to hold up confirmation of Denise Turner Roth to lead GSA in 2015 in order to obtain answers to questions about the cost and timing of the project.

 In September 2017, GSA launched a beta site that will eventually encompass nine fully modernized systems, eliminating the need for standalone sites such as FedBizOpps, the Federal Procurement Data System and others. So far, just one legacy system -- the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance -- has been retired.

Once the modernized system moves from beta to production, GSA anticipates more opportunities,  including multiple small business awards to be made for the operation, maintenance and enhancement of the new system.

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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