The Alliant Small Business Information Technology contract, worth an estimated $15 billion and the first governmentwide acquisition contract set aside solely for small business contractors, is part of a$50 billion contract that GSA awarded to 29 large companies in July. The main Alliant contract has been on hold since September, awaiting the outcome of a protest filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by several companies. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 4, 2008.
A GSA spokesperson, speaking via conference call Monday, declined to comment on the protest beyond saying that GSA was very confident in the quality of the selections it made, and was hoping the situation will be resolved in the next couple of months.
In the meantime, GSA officials are touting the latest contract awards as a way for agencies to meet small business set-aside goals. "This contract provides GSA's customers with easy access to innovative IT solutions from small businesses and is an exceptional vehicle for federal agencies to meet their small business contracting goals," said GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan.
Alliant and Alliant Small Business both are critical in helping GSA's efforts to capture a larger portion of the federal IT acquisition market. While other agencies still conduct their own acquisition vehicles, Alliant Small Business has the added appeal of helping agencies satisfy small business objectives, which typically require them to award 23 percent of their contracts to small businesses.
John Johnson, assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services, said GSA originally planned to make 35 to 40 awards under the small business contract, but agency officials were "overwhelmed and delighted" by the number of responses to the request for proposals, leading it to give 62 awards out of the 142 companies that bid.
The duration of the contracts is similar to previous Alliant awards: five years, with one five-year option.
"Hopefully, what this means it that these were all highly qualified offers," said Guy Timberlake, chief executive officer of the American Small Business Coalition, a trade group supporting small businesses working with the federal government. "The government must have felt it was in their interest to make this many awards."
Timberlake praised GSA for focusing on strategy and management philosophies rather than specific personnel when selecting vendors for the contract. "They took more of a management-style approach, asking how companies would leverage their team needs to achieve success, rather than focusing on the personnel already in place," he said. "What this does is provide vendors with some flexibility to adapt."
Timberlake also noted that many of the awardees were joint ventures or consortiums, which he attributed to small contractors deciding to team up and compliment their skills in a particular field with other companies so as to provide the best proposal.