Business development practitioner Robert Lohfeld Sr. highlights where General Services Administration can make changes to the governmentwide IT solutions contract for everyone's benefit.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was originally published on Bob Lohfeld Sr.’s LinkedIn page. We have republished an edited version with his permission.
The General Services Administration released the draft solicitation for the Alliant 3 procurement in October and is accepting bidder comments until Jan. 6, 2023.
I’ve been through the document, and I think GSA came up short in three main areas regarding the governmentwide IT solutions contract.
First, GSA failed to state the number of points needed to win a seat on its new contract. Second, GSA capped the number of winners at 60. Third, GSA failed to take advantage of all the lessons learned when it crafted the OASIS+ draft request for proposal.
Here are nine reasons why GSA needs to make changes to the Alliant 3 draft.
Unpublished award score
GSA is not disclosing the number of points needed to win the new Alliant 3 contract and instead is saying it will award to the 60 highest-scoring bidders. If GSA proceeds with an unpublished award score, it invites protests from losing bidders.
The last governmentwide acquisition contract procurement to compete with an unpublished award threshold was CIO-SP4, which racked up 117 protests. Protests are non-value add for both the government and for industry—and are expensive for both.
If GSA really wants to get this vehicle awarded quickly—and they say they do—then they should not hesitate in stating the score needed for an award and tell prospective bidders who cannot meet or exceed that score that their proposals will not be evaluated.
By doing so, GSA will eliminate the long line of disgruntled bidders who normally file endless protests. It would be reasonable to set an award threshold of 80% of the total number of points. This would give GSA a robust field of Alliant 3 contractors and
Capping awards to the 60 highest-scoring bidders
Let’s increase competition at the task order level where it belongs and make awards to all qualified bidders rather than cap the number of awards to the 60 highest-scoring bidders.
Removing the cap will give more companies access to Alliant 3 task requests, give GSA more companies marketing its contract vehicle, and give its government clients access to more contractors.
This would be a win-win-win victory for everyone.
Scoring algorithm decimates mid-tier contractors
Mid-tier contractors are the ones that are too big to be small, yet too small to be the largest. We see the best innovation in these companies as they are small enough to be nimble, agile, and flexible to meet various customer demands.
This is a rich field of competitors that offer additional choices, true differentiation, innovation, flexibility, efficiencies, and additional expertise not found in larger or smaller companies.
GSA plans to award 1,500 points for up to seven past performance projects with a value equal to or greater than $275 million.
Setting this requirement at $275 million favors the largest government contractors who do not need additional work inside of the GSA program. This $275 million threshold will decimate the mid-tier contractors and effectively take them out of the running for this award, wasting valuable bid-and-proposal resources.
While the largest contractors may meet this requirement, the mid-tier contractors don't have a prayer of having seven contracts with a value equal to or greater than $275 million.
If this threshold remains, mid-tier contractors will all give up approximately 4% of their total possible score just by virtue of being mid-tier.
While they can likely meet all the other requirements of the solicitation and compete effectively for task order awards, they will never get the chance if the 1,500-point threshold remains at $275 million.
When we look at the spending data for Alliant 2, 80% of the awarded task orders have a value of less than $275,000. Given that the spend value on average is $116,000 and 80% of the task awards are less than $275,000, the $275 million minimum for projects seems unreasonable and should be eliminated.
Losing bidders waste millions on proposal costs
Because the scoring threshold for an award on this procurement is not identified, hundreds of companies will waste their time and money submitting proposals that have no chance of winning.
If GSA will publish the threshold for the award in the RFP and not restrict the number of awardees to a maximum of 60, companies will be able to determine in advance if they are candidates for the award and not waste their time and money submitting losing bids.
With the Alliant 2 contract running at $1 billion per month and Alliant 3 expected to exceed that number, divvying up $1 billion-plus per month across 60 companies creates a pretty exclusive club of contractors each taking out an average of $2 billion over the 10-year ordering period while hundreds of other capable companies watch from the sideline.
We need GSA to remove the cap on the number of awardees altogether.
Number of awardees not consistent with contract growth
When Alliant 2 was awarded to 62 companies, its spending rate was approximately $3 billion per year. Now the contract is running at approximately $12 billion-plus per year.
Since the contract is now running at four times the original spend rate, would you please consider uncapping the number of awardees?
Unlimited delegation of procurement authority
We understand in the past GSA capped the number of awards to approximately 60 because it had a cap on the contract spending of $50B.
Alliant 3 is requesting approval to have no spending cap on the contract vehicle, so there is no need to have a cap on the number of contract awardees. Please remove the 60-company cap on the number of awardees.
The open season should begin immediately after initial awards are made and continue to be open
throughout the full ordering period.
Lessons learned from the OASIS+ upcoming procurement
GSA has made great progress with OASIS+, but seems to have ignored all the lessons learned when
drafting the Alliant 3 procurement. Can you please get the OASIS+ and Alliant 3 teams together to share
lessons learned? This can greatly improve the Alliant 3 procurement.
If you want to submit your comments to GSA, you can do it by submitting comments to A3DraftRFP@GSA.Gov using the comment template released with the draft RFP.
Bob Lohfeld Sr. is CEO of Lohfeld Consulting Group, Inc.