United States government agencies will remain active in the information technology market, despite the impact of COVID-19 on agency operations. In fact, there is some evidence that the occurrence of the virus has spurred agencies to improve IT resources.
For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) in early July launched a new contracting vehicle offering a potential US$50 billion in federal acquisition of IT products and services. IT providers will have until Aug. 5, 2020 to apply for participation in the program.
In addition, GSA extended an existing IT procurement program and added $7 billion to the program’s potential contract coverage. Both programs are directed to small and disadvantaged IT providers with a Small Business Administration status known as “8-A” companies.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present new challenges and obstacles to many of GSA’s partners in the small business community, we are doing all we can to help keep this important part of the federal IT ecosystem vibrant and successful,” said Laura Stanton, GSA’s acting assistant commissioner of the Office of IT Category, in a recent blog posting.
“As we all navigate new realities and requirements, GSA is working to ensure small businesses have the opportunities to thrive,” she said.
Both the current and new information technology contracting programs are classified as Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) vehicles Under the GWAC concept, vendors register as qualified information technology providers for the relevant contract vehicle. To quality, companies must go through a rigorous evaluation process which includes meeting standards for technical competency and demonstrating that a vendor is “responsible and responsive.”
Additionally, the company must be able to show why its pricing should be considered fair and reasonable, according to Larry Allen, managing director of the federal market access practice at BDO-USA, which provides contract advisory services.
The one-time vendor qualification process makes contracting more efficient for both agencies and IT providers. Once qualified, vendors become eligible to compete for separate specific “task order” projects from multiple federal agencies, with awards made on the basis of project requirements.
However, vendors who qualify for a GWAC program are not guaranteed any real business. “What they’ve really won is the right to compete for business that federal agencies wish to place,” Allen told the E-Commerce Times.