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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Alliant 2 seeks for 'best and brightest' contractors

The General Services Administration’s Casey Kelley and Richard Blake offered a clear message about the Alliant 2 contracts to those attending Deltek’s annual FedFocus event: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The basic foundation of the contract – now out in a second draft solicitation – will not differ greatly from the current Alliant contracts, they said. Like its predecessor, the Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business are designed to meet the requirements of the Federal Enterprise Architecture and the Defense Enterprise Architecture.

That structure has helped the contracts be very productive and flexible vehicles for agencies looking to buy IT services. Since they launched nearly four years ago, the Alliant vehicles have seen 1,000 task orders worth $30 billion issued by 62 different agencies, Kelley said. Kelley is the director of the enterprise acquisition division for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, Pacific Rim Region.

The second draft RFP was released earlier this month. Comments are due Nov. 30, and the expectation is that the final solicitation will be out in the spring of 2016.

While the bedrock of the contracts isn’t changing, there are some significant tweaks around the edges.

Probably the most significant is that GSA will use a self-scoring system for the proposal process, much like it used with the OASIS contract for high-end professional services.

Kelley and Blake, senior technologist for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, Pacific Rim Region, said that primes will go through a series of self-scoring questions that describe skills and attributes of the bidder as well as work examples.

GSA will likely take the top 60 scores including ties and verify the claims of the bidder. They described it as a due diligence process. They estimated that there will likely be a total of 80,000 points but they doubt anyone will score 100 percent of the points.

“Everyone wants to score 100 percent, but that’s not the point,” Blake said. In fact, 100 percent score will likely be greeted with skepticism.

They expect to make awards to 60 primes in the full-and-open contract and 80 primes for the small business contract.

Another change is the reduction in the labor categories from 80 to 31. The Alliant 2 contracts will use standard IT labor categories established by the Labor Department. Standardizing labor categories will help bring down costs, Kelley said.

“But we still allow flexibility,” he said. “You can use any labor category you want to drive people to the standard categories to drive cost savings.”

The use of non-standard labor categories does not need approval from GSA, just notice. “We want to be notified so we can track emerging labor categories,” Blake said.

There were several questions from the audience about small business and the use of joint ventures. Like the OASIS contract, joint ventures formed solely to pursue the contract are not allowed currently. They are seen as too risky, Kelley and Blake said.

That position was protested during the run-up to OASIS and GSA prevailed, so for now, the issue is settled.

If you were part of a joint venture during Alliant but are going out on your own for Alliant 2, you’ll need to get documentation from your former joint venture partners before claiming past experience and capabilities as your own during the self-scoring process, they said.

Another issue that was raised was the disadvantage mid-size businesses face because they won’t be able to score as many points as a large size business. The fear, expressed by one audience member, is that mid-sized companies will get squeezed out.

But Kelley and Blake explained that the scoring system is set up so that you can extra points by going deeper into a technology. This should offset the problem of not being able to go wide across multiple technologies.

The goal is find the best small businesses and the best large businesses that have shown they know the government market and know how to keep up with technology, they said.

“This is not a learn-how to do business with the government kind of contract,” Blake said. “Our customers expect the best and brightest.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 28, 2015 at 9:31 AM

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