Commerce issues new COMMITS RFP

The Commerce Department this week issued the solicitation for Commerce Information Technology Services Next Generation, a small-business governmentwide acquisition contract for information technology. The multiple-award contract has a ceiling of $8 billion over 10 years.

COMMITS NexGen is the successor to COMMITS, which was awarded in 1999 and expires in 2004. The first COMMITS vehicle has a ceiling of $1.5 billion.

Under the task-order contract, federal agencies can buy IT solutions from small businesses, including those that are disadvantaged, 8(a), women-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned and HUBZone.

"I think there are going to be hundreds of bidders. It's something the company has been looking forward to for some time," said John Lauder, senior vice president and general manager of the homeland security and civilian services group at NCI Information Systems Inc. of McLean, Va.

According to the solicitation, awards should be made in January and will be based on the best value to the government.

"The government is more concerned with obtaining superior management and technical skills than with making awards at the lowest labor prices," the solicitation said.

The NexGen contract is different from the original vehicle in several ways. For example, on the first contract, vendors were qualified to bid in certain functional areas, and could only bid in those areas. On the new contract, contractors will be qualified to bid based on the size of the task order, not the type of technology being purchased.

Contractors that meet the $6 million or $12.5 million revenue size standards, based on North American Industrial Classification System codes, can compete for task orders worth $5 million or less. Contractors that meet the $21 million revenue or 500 employee size standards can compete for task orders worth $5 million to $70 million.

Contractors that meet the 1,500-employee size standard can compete for task orders worth more than $70 million. However, where there is an incumbent contractor, that contractor can compete at any level.

The change will result in better teaming arrangements, Lauder said. Under the first COMMITS, companies teamed during the proposal stage in anticipation of work in a functional area that wasn't defined yet. Under NexGen, the emphasis will be on teaming at the task-order level, where the work is known and the best team can be put together, he said.

"Companies that are good with teaming, good with subcontractors and have good past performance working with other companies are going to do well," Lauder said.

NCI plans to bid on NexGen. The firm could not bid on the first COMMITS because it exceeded the size standard. With the addition of a 1,500-employee size standard on NexGen, the contract is open to a new group of firms, he said.

Another change is that firms that outgrow their size status can move into the next-highest size category. In addition, as companies outgrow the vehicle entirely, new contractors will be added through an open season.

Under the first contract, some companies had to leave the vehicle after growing too big, often because they had been purchased. With NexGen, companies will have more opportunity to grow inside the vehicle, Lauder said.

In addition, each contractor will have to recertify its small-business status every three years. If a proposed procurement rule change goes into effect, contractors will have to recertify annually.

Solicitation No. CM1301-03-RP-0019 is available at www.fedbizopps.gov.

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