FCSA Schedule 70 value rises

ComSatCom demand boosts value beyond initial estimates

The initial estimated value of bandwidth task orders under the $5 billion, 10-year Future Commercial Satellite Services Acquisition were low, by as much as 30 percent, federal officials said.

“The forecast of $5 billion over 10 years was made a couple years ago,” said Kevin Gallo, the General Services Administration’s SatCom services program manager.

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“Since then, we noticed about a 30 percent increase in sales between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009" over Defense Information System Network (DISN) Satellite Transmission Service-Global (DSTS-G) and Inmarsat, and GSA’s SatCom II, said Gallo.

GSA and DISA jointly developed and administer FCSA ComSatCom vehicles, which replace DSTS-G, Inmarsat and SatCom II, all set to expire by 2012.

“So that $5 billion estimate, if anything, will be a little bit low, depending on how the trend toward increasing use of ComSatCom by the federal government continues,” Gallo said.

Changes in the Defense Department’s ComSatCom needs also are likely to affect purchases on FCSA.

“We definitely see our transponded capacity on Schedule 70 being more than what we estimated,” said Daniel Gager, DISA’s FCSA program manager.

“When we started planning this [acquisition] with GSA approximately three years ago, we had no idea how huge an increase in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance in combat would be,” Gager said. “It’s increased exponentially, and it’s eating up a lot of bandwidth. “

That demand has been growing fast. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed off on shifting $1.3 billion to ISR in DOD’s 2008 budget. In its 2010 budget request, DOD shifted items previously funded through supplemental appropriations into its budget request. That $13 billion transfer included an increase in ISR assets and UAVs.

The scuttling last year of DOD’s Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) program, which was to provide secure, high-capacity global communications for DOD, NASA and the intelligence community, may also boost FCSA sales.

“The abandonment of TSAT hit us hard, especially on the protected band side, which unfortunately, ComSatCom really can’t help us with,” Gager said. “Overall, requirements that were going to go on TSAT will possibly go on Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS).”

However, as needs that were to be fulfilled by TSAT are prioritized, he said, “we expect to see an increase in the purchase of ComSatCom to support a lot of the non-critical infrastructure — your transport links between the DISN and the Global Information Grid in order to support your high-bandwidth ISR requirements.”

No precise estimates on how much DOD’s demand will increase on FCSA are available, Gager said. “It all depends on how much of the ISR requirements are out there, but we’ve seen a substantial increase in the last 18 months.”

Original ceiling values for FCSA, divided between Schedule 70 task orders and the five-year multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity portion of the acquisition, Custom Satellite Communications Solutions. The $2.6 billion CS2 comprised CS2 Full and Open, and, with an estimated value of $900 million, CS2 Small Business.

Those estimates, which were ceiling rather than sales estimates, were based on a historical analysis of task orders on DSTS-G, SatCom II and DISA’s Inmarsat contract, Gallo said.

For the analysis, GSA examined buying patterns and individual task orders, noting not only dollar values but also the nature of the services procured.

“Based on that analysis, about 50 percent of the task orders would fall under the transponded capacity, about 20 percent under subscription services and about 30 percent would be end-to-end solution services, which would be the IDIQ,” Gallo said. “And within that IDIQ, roughly two-thirds would be full and open [CS2] and one-third would be small business [CS2-SB].”

One caveat, he added: Past trends “may not carry over into the future.”

For example, he said, “there may be an increased appetite for IP services, which could increase the percentage for subscription services. Or there could be an increased demand for turn-key solutions, which could increase the amount for end-to-end solutions service area.”

At the end of August, GSA made the first FCSA Schedule 70 award, to DSTS-G contract holder Artel Inc., based in Reston, Va. As soon as two more such awards are made — and they’re expected in coming weeks — the field will constitute “adequate competition,” and agencies can then begin issuing task orders.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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