EAGLE II Aims to Boost Small Business Participation

EAGLE II Aims to Boost Small Business Participation

New provisions will help agencies achieve small-business goals

By Steve LeSueur

In some respects, the Department of Homeland Security’s EAGLE contract was too successful in helping small businesses grow and prosper. Of the original 28 companies on the agency-wide contracting vehicle, nine have been purchased by larger companies.

But the good news for DHS component agencies is that EAGLE II will offer an even stronger pool of small businesses to address their requirements for IT services. The draft solicitation for EAGLE II contains several new provisions enabling more small-business participation in EAGLE. These planned changes also will enable DHS components to target more effectively small businesses in the different socioeconomic categories, thus helping them achieve their small-business goals, while obtaining needed IT services and solutions.

Kevin Boshears “We want to see EAGLE II contribute to our small-business program by identifying task orders that can be set aside by category and by encouraging large businesses to have meaningful subcontracting participation.” 

Kevin Boshears, director of the Office of Small
and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, DHS.

Kevin Boshears, director of the DHS Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, expects EAGLE officials to conduct a rigorous competition to identify first-rate small businesses. “We will be able to say with confidence that this is a fine group of firms that can compete on task orders and support the IT needs of the department and, by extension, support the DHS mission,” he said.

Strengthening Small Business
EAGLE I provided the small business community with numerous subcontracting as well as prime contracting opportunities, Boshears said. For example, each prime contractor was required to designate a Teaming Coordinator to provide outreach to other businesses that wanted to partner as subcontractors on task orders issued through EAGLE. Large businesses were asked to participate in the DHS mentor-protégé program to assist small businesses. And DHS tracked the performance of the large business primes to ensure that they met the goals established in their subcontracting plans.

EAGLE II will continue these practices while also adding these new features:

*All of the small business socioeconomic categories for which DHS has set-aside authority will be represented on the contract – 8(a), HUBZone, and service-disabled veteran-owned – as well as regular small businesses, with the possibility that EAGLE also may add a woman-owned category.

*Small businesses in each socioeconomic category will compete only against other small businesses in that same category. This will “level the playing field” for the small businesses competing for task orders. In addition, this will help agencies target specific socioeconomic categories to meet their small-business contracting requirements.

*Because some small businesses may not have the capabilities to cover all the requirements in EAGLE II’s functional areas, particularly Functional Category 1, they will be allowed to partner with up to four other small businesses in EAGLE II. This will enable the small-business teams to provide the full range of required services.

*In their proposals, large EAGLE II prime contractors will be required to name three small businesses in their subcontracting plans. DHS officials will track how well the prime contractors are using these small businesses to ensure that they are given meaningful opportunities.

*As part of the evaluation criteria for large primes competing for EAGLE II, DHS officials will consider their participation in the department’s mentor-protégé program.

DHS officials said they will monitor the performance of EAGLE II contractors in meeting their small business subcontracting goals. “If you do not achieve those goals, you will be required to explain to us why you are not achieving the goals and what your plans are for improvement,” Soraya Correa, director of the DHS Office of Procurement Operations, told industry representatives at a March 30 pre-solicitation conference. Industry analysts praised EAGLE II plans to promote stronger small business participation, saying they will help address complaints from the small business community. “Prime contractors love to hang on to their money, and this can be frustrating to subcontractors,” said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for FedSources. The EAGLE II initiatives, he said, “will put more pressure on contractors to ensure that they are, in fact, helping to grow small businesses.”

The plan to have all socioeconomic groups represented under Functional Category 1 (Service Delivery) has led to speculation that as many as 40-to-60 small businesses could win spots on EAGLE II.  However, Correa said that too many awards could make the program unattractive to both the government user community and the awardees. “The number of awards will be determined by the evaluation results.  We want top-notch firms,” Correa said.