Acquisition

GSA imagines new small business GWAC

GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock) 

The General Services Administration gave the public a look at its next step in developing the agency's new small business governmentwide contracting (GWAC) vehicle that will eventually replace the canceled Alliant 2 Small Business contract.

The new vehicle will emphasize Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and woman-owned small business set-asides, streamlined pricing and contract submission processes, as well as a source for emerging artificial intelligence, machine learning, as-a-service offerings, cloud and edge computing technologies, as well as cybersecurity technology, according to GSA officials.

In an Aug. 27 webcast, GSA small business and IT category officials gave a loose outline of how they see the agency's next-generation small business contract will develop in the coming months. They asked for industry input on how to maximize technologies, processes and ease-of-use for the new GWAC.

The agency anticipates issuing a draft solicitation "by the end of the year," said Lee Tittle, program lead for small business GWACs in GSA's Office of IT Category (OITC). To accommodate industry input and disseminate information on the effort, GSA opened a new category on its Interact online community.

The new vehicle, said Carlton Shufflebarger, acting director, IT services in OITC, will emphasize HUBZone and woman-owned firms because those groups don't have their own GWAC vehicles, such as those that support small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration.

GSA wants the new vehicle to offer a streamlined source of emerging technologies from small business innovators, said Allen Hill, acting deputy assistant commissioner for category management in OITC. GSA also wants the new GWACs and others to offer a more coherent growth path for small businesses as they grow in size and scope of their offerings, said Hill.

The next-generation contract follows GSA's cancellation of its Alliant 2 SB contract in early July, after the effort had endured a year of protests at the Government Accountability Office and in federal court.

Along with offering innovative technologies, GSA is considering implementing operational techniques that will streamline application processes in the contract, as well as new pricing techniques, said Alex Wrisinger, contracting officer in OITC's IT services contracting operations.

"It can be a heavy lift" for potential small business contractors to prepare bid responses, he said. GSA is also considering using a new authority that will allow the GWAC to negotiate pricing at the ordering level and not at the contract level. The change is arcane, but it would allow more realistic pricing for IT services in response to task orders, closer to agency customer's actual needs.

The GSA issued a notice asking about order level competition rules changes on Aug. 19.

Tittle also said the agency is thinking about how to handle HUBZone and woman-owned contractors within the contract, either using separate pools of those contractors or designating them at the task order level.

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


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