Archives for August 12

Aug 8, 2012
Seven companies won spots on the Defense Information Systems Agency test and evaluation contract worth more than $871 million.

The companies will compete for task orders to provide services for testing, scientific, engineering, logistics, administrative, purchasing and ancillary support.

The seven companies are:

  • Alion Science and Technology Corp.
  • American Systems Corp.
  • CGI Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • ManTech International
  • Science Applications International Corp.
  • TASC Inc.

CGI’s win came through Oberon Associates, which was acquired by Stanley Associates, which in turn was acquired by CGI.

The services under the contract will include operation and maintenance of test tools, labs, networks, infrastructure and administration.

Each company is guaranteed $100,000. The contract has a one-year base and four one-year options. There is a phase-in period from July 30 to Oct. 28. The first year of the contract then begins on Oct. 29.

Work will take place at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and Indian Head and Forte Meade, Md.

DISA received seven proposals for the contract. Reference Article.

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Aug 10, 2012

Women are changing the face of America's economy, the Bureau of the Census has reported. Women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) are increasing in number, range, diversity and earning power. As women business owners expand their companies, they contribute to the growth of our national economy.

Annually, the DoD awards nearly $2 billion in prime contracts and $2.4 billion in subcontracts to WOSB concerns. All DoD subcontracting plans are required to have a separate goal for awards to WOSBs. The DoD considers the extent of participation by small business concerns when awarding contracts.

The focus of the DoD WOSB program is the provision of effective outreach, training and technical assistance in order to increase the accessibility of WOSB concerns to DoD procurement opportunities. Reference Article.

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Aug 10, 2012

GSA issues IBM a 'cure' letter for problems with procurement system: he General Services Administration has officially ordered IBM to fix the troubled System for Award Management (SAM).

Sources confirmed GSA issued IBM a "cure" letter Aug. 7. In the official notice, GSA told the company to develop a plan of action and milestones for how they will make SAM work more smoothly. Under the program, GSA wants to consolidate eight acquisition databases, including the Central Contractor Registration, the Past Performance Information Retrieval System and six others.

GSA hired IBM under an eight-year, $74.4 million contract in 2010.

"The agency is committed to working with IBM to quickly resolve the issues with the system" said GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson in an email statement. "The goal is to get it up and running as soon as possible."

GSA's decision to issue the cure letter comes as frustration grows across the government. Sources said the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council held a meeting earlier this week and discussed SAM's problems.

Agencies issue "cure" letters when a vendor fails to deliver or perform according to the contract. It provides the contractor with a period of time to correct the problems and tells them what would happen if they were unable to fix the system.

GSA launched SAM on July 31 after a month-long delay, and almost immediately the system struggled. GSA took SAM offline for a few days. It went back up Aug. 7, but is still having latency and other issues.

Sources said GSA told IBM to fix the system or risk penalties. Full Article.

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Aug 12, 2012

The General Services Administration (GSA) said on Thursday, 10 August, that federal travelers can save up to 73 percent off commercial airfare under its City Pairs program beginning Oct. 1, Federal Times reported.

GSA released a list of routes online offered by the program but declined requests for more details on how the program will be changed from current offerings. GSA anticipates the government will save roughly $6 billion annually in reduced airfares through the program.

SA released a list of routes online offered by the program but declined repeated requests for more details on how the program will be changed from current offerings.

GSA anticipates the government will save roughly $6 billion annually in reduced airfares through the program.

One change for fiscal 2013 is the addition of a 48-hour auto-cancellation clause, according to GSA. Airlines will have authority to cancel reservations that have not been paid for 48 hours before the flight departure time. Reservations made less than 48 hours before departure may require immediate payments.

Currently, federal employees can reserve a seat on a City Pairs flight without paying for it. But airlines lose money on empty seats if the employee doesn’t cancel the reservation, airline and travel officials said.

The 48-hour cancellation clause falls short of mitigating the risk that airlines assume in participating in City Pairs, said Jeffrey Haag, government relations manager for Southwest and AirTran airlines. “But it certainly is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Eleven airlines are participating in the City Pairs program in 2013, compared with 13 this year. AirTran Airways is now part of Southwest Airlines, and Mesa Airlines is not participating in the 2013 program. Reference Article.

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Aug 28, 2012

Small businesses that have been federal contractors for more than 10 years, or that have won more than $1 million in government contracts, tend to invest more time and money in seeking work, and submit more bids than their less active counterparts, a new survey shows.

The American Express OPEN survey found, on average, these so-called “procurement leaders” leaders spent $233,457 in preparing their bids for federal contracts in 2010, both in terms of staff time and direct expenditures. “Casual” contractors — those that have been contracting for less than three years and have won less than $1 million in federal contracts — only spent $31, 278 over the same period.

Procurement leaders also bid more, submitting an average of 18.9 prime bids and 5.6 subcontracting bids over the past three years, which is 83 percent and 37 percent more than all active contractors. Though they bid more, procurement leaders appear to bid “smarter,” said survey research research advisor Julie Weeks. “The bidding activity did not go up as fast as the success rate did, so that shows you’re not getting more success by throwing more proposals,” Weeks said. Instead, procurement leaders often only bid when they believe they will be likely to succeed.
Though only a minority of businesses surveyed hired outside consultants to research and apply for contracts, those that did found it very helpful, Weeks said. Procurement leaders were more likely than the average contractor to be in the goods-producing, professional/scientific/technical services or information industries, and slightly more likely to be located in the D.C., Maryland or Virginia areas. But it was the manner in which they pursued contracts that tended to be the bigger predictor of contracting success rate than industry or location, Weeks said. When asked what tips they had for less experienced firms, procurement leaders often suggested getting on a General Services Administration schedule, which is a kind of preapproved bidders’ list. But there are other paths to success as well. Amber Peebles, president of Dumfries, Va.-based Athena Construction Group started pursuing federal construction contracts in 2008, but did not pursue the GSA schedule because she didn’t feel the schedule would be helpful for her industry, construction.
The former Marine sought contracts through government set-asides for women-owned businesses and businesses owned by the service-disabled veterans. Today, 90 percent of Athena’s revenue comes from federal contracts — instead of bidding through the GSA, Peebles has instead developed contacts in individual government agencies.
Prior to 2008, Athena was focused on residential construction. Peebles was anxious to move from commercial to federal construction because she found the commercial sector to be sexist, and it was “difficult for women to succeed” in residential construction. Though the procurement process can sometimes be stressful, she said she “felt like there was a more level playing field in the government.”
Peebles emphasized that procuring prime contracts — instead of only subcontracts — helps small businesses gain credibility, though initially subcontracting helped her company “get our foot through the door.”
But for Peebles, the most important factor in procuring a federal contract is persistence. “Keep calling, and keep trying,” she advised. The AmEx study was based on 740 small businesses between August and November of 2011. Reference Article.



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Aug 30, 2012

A proposed a rule could result in more set aside solicitations for research and development being awarded to small business, when capable and willing companies exist. Currently, the wording of a provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulation regarding research and development procurements might be an impediment to smaller firms.

The FAR states:

"In making R&D small business set-asides, there must also be a reasonable expectation of obtaining from small businesses the best scientific and technological sources consistent with the demands of the proposed acquisition for the best mix of cost, performances, and schedules."

Acquisition officials at the DoD, NASA, and the General Services Administration have proposed a revision that removes the phrase: "consistent with the demands of the proposed acquisition for the best mix of cost, performances, and schedules."

The phrase would add additional and unique condition that contracting officers have to establish before they can proceed with small-business set-asides, the SBA has noted.

The proposed new wording makes clear that the contracting officer need only determine that there are small businesses capable of handling the specialized work based on market research, in order to justify the set-aside.

The proposed rule is intended to remove potential barriers for small businesses, comments are being accepted through Oct. 9.  Reference NAGC Article.

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