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You Want a Piece of This?
As Many as 40 May Win Part of Millennia Lite
By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer
As many as 40 companies are expected to win a piece of the General Services Administration's new $5 billion contract vehicle aimed at small to middle-tier companies.
The new contract, dubbed Millennia Lite, is part of a strategy by GSA's Federal Technology Service to capture more government information technology business, said Charles Self, assistant commissioner of the Office of Information Technology Integration.
"Right now, we do between $3 billion and $4 billion a year in business. In the next couple of years, we hope to grow to $5 billion to $10 billion annually," he said. "We want to be the premier provider of IT to the agencies."
A request for proposals on Millennia Lite is scheduled for release by the end of August, with proposals due in about 30 days.
But some industry officials doubt that schedule will hold because of concerns raised by industry at a July 16 meeting on the contract. Most concerns centered on past performance requirements and restrictions GSA wants to put on the number of lots companies can bid on and win.
The Millennia Lite contract is aimed at task orders in the $300,000 range. The contract will be divided into four lots on which companies can bid: information technology planning, studies and assessment; high-end information technology, such as systems engineering and scientific and engineering applications development; mission support services; and legacy systems migration and new enterprise systems development.
The plan calls for up to 10 winners under each lot. Each lot will have two 8(a) or small disadvantaged businesses as primes, said Manny DeVera, director of FTS IT Solutions Regional Service Centers. A fifth lot may be added to allow agencies to buy new technologies, DeVera said.
The contract will include some new contracting techniques, including the share-in-savings concept and contract award term, which allows companies to add to the length of the contract by performing well.
The base contracts will be for five years, but good performance ratings could extend the term to 15 years, De-Vera said. Poor performance could shorten the base to three years.
"The details still need to be worked out, but I think the concept really makes sense," said Ellen Glover, president and chief operating officer of Advanced Technology Solutions Inc. of McLean, Va. Her $65 million-a-year company is planning to bid for a spot on Millennia Lite.
"If I do a good job, I get a longer contract. It is more of a commercial model," she said.
A flexible contract also helps GSA, because if agencies do not like using the GSA contract, they will turn to other vehicles, Glover said.
The Millennia Lite contract is aimed at middle-tier companies, which DeVera broadly defined as companies ranging from $8 million to $500 million in annual revenue. While GSA cannot stop large systems integrators, such as Computer Sciences Corp., Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., from bidding, GSA officials are strongly discouraging them, DeVera said. We are trying to attract midsized companies with the opportunity to be primes," he said.
Representatives from more than 250 companies, including CSC, EDS and Lockheed Martin, attended a July 16 meeting about the contract with GSA. Other companies attending included: Advanced Technology Systems Inc., Affiliated Computer Services Inc., Anteon Corp., Booz-Allen & Hamilton, BTG Inc., CACI International Inc., Digicon Corp., EER Systems Inc., Federal Data Corp., GRC International Inc., Logicon Inc., OAO Corp., SRA International Inc. and Wang Government Services Inc.
"This contract is going to be very important to us," said Howard Ady, a program manager with OAO. The contract's proposed structure puts an emphasis on performance, and "I think the agencies will like that aspect."
DeVera explained that companies can bid on two lots but can win only one. If a company wins two lots, it will have to choose which it wants, he said. GSA is using this approach because it wants as many prime contractors under the contract as possible, he said.
But the sticking point for industry was GSA's original proposal in the draft request for proposal that essentially would allow a company to be a prime or a subcontractor, but not do both. It is common under some large indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts for a company to bid as a prime on one lot and as a subcontractor to another company under another lot.
Under Millennia Lite, if both teams win, the company would have to choose whether it holds onto its prime award or gives it up to be a subcontractor, DeVera said.
But during a question-and-answer session at the GSA meeting, many in industry said that the approach would not work. If a subcontractor pulls out of a team because it won as a prime in another lot, "that could ruin your whole business case," said one industry official, speaking from the floor.
DeVera said the agency will consider other approaches.
The emphasis on past performance also was a concern among industry officials. Past performance will count for 80 percent of the criteria for winning an award. Pricing counts for 20 percent.
GSA is asking for companies to provide profiles of six projects worth more than $300,000 a year, and a list of another 10 projects also worth $300,000 or more a year.
Industry officials in attendance complained to GSA that it would be too difficult for small businesses to come up with that many projects of that size.
The agency is considering whether to allow primes to use projects done by their subcontractors. "If you don't have 10 in addition to the six, then give us all you have," DeVera said.
The $300,000 threshold is important because "that maps to the average size of the task order that we want under this contract," said Gale Greenwald, DeVera's deputy.