Unleashing the Power Of Alliant

Special Report: GWAC Buyer's Guide

By Brian Robinson

The Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract was a much anticipated follow-on to the General Services Administration’s Applications ’N Support for Widely-diverse End-user Requirements (ANSWER) and Millennia contracts when it was awarded in August 2007, but a subsequent protest and delay raised many red flags. Its eventual success was anything but assured when it finally opened for business at the beginning of May 2009.

Which is why you could almost hear the relief in the voice of Casey Kelley, Alliant’s program manager, when he talked about the first 13 months of the contract’s working life.

“A bump in the road was expected,” he said, “but we actually finished the last fiscal year in a much stronger position than we anticipated.”

By the end of May 2010, 37 task orders had been awarded, worth close to $545 million. As important, in Kelley’s eyes, was the diversity represented in those awards, which involved 18 agencies and 22 of Alliant’s 59 industry partners. And there were no protests.

“We’ve also received over 120 statements of work,” he said, “so we have a robust pipeline.”

Alliant is designed to provide everything a government agency needs, such as hardware, software and integration services, for medium to large and complex information technology projects. To that end, it continues and extends the combined offerings of ANSWER and Millennia, although users will find some differences.

For example, cost contracting was available previously only under Millennia and Millennia Lite but is now allowed for all of Alliant’s business, along with all other contract types. Also, there’s a top-secret and approved accounting system requirement at the basic contract level rather than the task order level, which Kelley said should provide for more uniformity throughout the contract.

The biggest change, however, is that Alliant is now aligned with both the federal and Defense Department enterprise architectures. That means IT products and solutions for agency infrastructures as defined by the enterprise architecture will always be within the contract’s scope, making Alliant a template of sorts for next-generation “evergreen” contracts.

“One of the things customers have complained about with other contracts is the need for tech refresh,” Kelley said. “But because Alliant is aligned with the EAs, it will always be a state-of-the-market IT vehicle, which means tech refresh is no longer needed.”

It also means that things needed to carry out agency IT missions that wouldn’t traditionally be considered IT -- such as business practice analysis, hardware disposal and recycling, and system and facility design -- are now within Alliant’s scope.

Users also will see a determined focus on customer relationship and service, which has been a weakness of many GSA contracts in the past.

To some extent, this aspect was forced on the Alliant program because of the lag in increasing business as a result of the protest. The immediate concern was to reach out to existing Millennia and ANSWER users, Kelley said, to train them on using Alliant. Now the target is everyone else.

“I’d like every formally accredited procurement officer in the government to be able to use this contract if they feel it is useful to them,” he said.

Backing that up is a comprehensive Alliant Web site (http://www.gsa.gov/alliant) that includes an ordering guide, acquisition templates, access to the Alliant basic contract, and time and materials labor rates.

Additionally, Kelley said Alliant staff is working with customers on defining and meeting their needs. Workers will review customer requirements at no cost upon request, they will provide answers about whether a request is within Alliant’s scope within one to two business days, and they will provide recommendations on what best fits those requirements.

Customer calls and e-mail messages will be returned promptly, too, he promised, “typically within hours.”