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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

OASIS shakeup continues GSA's summer of change

It has been a summer of change at the General Services Administration.

In June, GSA surprised many with a reorganization that folded the Technology Transformation Service into the Federal Acquisition Service. TTS is barely a year old and includes such as 18F and the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology,

That reorg also corresponds with the departures of former FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe and its Deputy Commissioner Kevin Youel Page.

But the latest upheaval might have the greatest impact on industry as GSA has shuttled nearly the entire OASIS management team FEDSIM to take on as yet undefined responsibilities.

You can feel the shock in the email that now former OASIS program manager Todd Richards sent to all contract holders on Friday.

Richards, Tommy Thomas, Valerie Bindel and Cat Renfro are all going to FEDSIM. They informed OASIS primes during a regular OASIS special interest group call on Friday and then Richards followed up with an email.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that the current OASIS team will be leaving the OASIS program effective Monday, July 24, 2017,” he wrote.

Richards team is considered the architects and creators of the program.

“We truly LOVE OASIS and have been 100% dedicated to the success of the program, the success of our clients, and to the success of each and every one of your companies,” he wrote.

He called it the most significant accomplishment of their professional careers.

The email also gets very personal as he relates the death of one team member’s husband, the battle with cancer of another and the death of a team member. He described the GSA team and the contractors as a family.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you nothing but continued success in this landmark program known as OASIS. Until our paths cross again, please know that our hearts are with you,” Richards wrote.

In a blog post, FAS Assistant Commissioner Tiffany Hixon named the new management team for OASIS:

  • Alexandra Rouse, director of the professional services program management division, is the principal contact for programmatic activites.
  • Sheila Morrison, director of contract operations division C, is principal contact for contracting activities.
  • Robin Tice is the contracting officer for OASIS
  • Shaun Hankton is contracting officer for OASIS Small Business
  • Carley Graham is contract specialist.

In an emailed statement, Hixon praised Richards and his team, saying they did an excellent job. "As with all programs, personnel changes and departures are a natural part of professional development and program evolution," she wrote.

Richards and his team will become part of the FAS Office of Assisted Acquisition.

Reaction from industry has been one of shock with one source calling it “weird.” One contractor that was on Friday’s call said it “sounds like it was a painful divorce.”

Another described it as an “earthquake.”

One company official said he is concerned about the timing, given that the changes have been made in the middle of the fourth quarter buying season.

“I’m concerned that customers we have been driving to the vehicle might get cold feet on using,” he said.

He also wondered about the impact on companies that are in the middle of the small business on ramp process.

But on a positive note, the new team appears to be based in the Washington, D.C. area, “so that will be nice to be able to see them more often if necessary,” he said. Richards’ team was in Fort Worth, Texas.

The moves are surprising given the success of OASIS as a vehicle. The unrestricted portion had over $1 billion in task orders in fiscal 2016 and has over $700 million so far in fiscal 2017, according to Deltek. The small business contract had $982.8 million in fiscal 2016 and $774.5 million so far in fiscal 2017. GSA said that the OASIS program will hit $3 billion this year, exceeding its goal by $1 billion.

Several agencies including the Air Force, Army, Homeland Security Department and Navy signed agreements that effectively says OASIS would be their vehicle of choice for professional services.

The Air Force has been by far the largest user of OASIS with $1.2 billion in task orders since 2015, according to Deltek.

There also is some speculation in the market that OASIS’s success made it a target. There are apparently those inside GSA who felt Richards had become a center of power, a source told me.

Also, some very large contractors saw too much work migrating to OASIS and didn’t like how it was upsetting the status quo, the source said.

Whatever the reason, many in industry will be watching what Richards and company do at FEDSIM. That says a lot about the reputation they take with them.

In his email, Richards sounded a positive note about the move to FEDSIM.

“There are some very exciting possibilities to come from our new assignments,” he wrote. “There are several potential HUGE ideas that are being formulated and discussed right now... and if one or more of those plans get implemented, we will be reaching out to all of you for your input as we did in the creation of OASIS.”

Stay tuned.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 24, 2017 at 8:12 AM

Reader Comments

Tue, Jul 25, 2017

this seems to be a strange move

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