UPDATED Dec. 13 with video synopsis. Despite the looming threat of significant, across the board budget cuts for federal agencies, there are still major government contracting opportunities that will remain vibrant into the near future. And regardless if you’re a large government contractor, small business or agency program manager, you need to know where to look before you can take advantage of these opportunities.
Federal contracting experts the General Services Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and NASA said while it is a time of great change and uncertainty, the government is benefiting from the Obama Administration’s 25-Point Plan to Reform Federal IT Management and the federal contracting is benefiting from a new degree of flexibility from government contracts.
“You can’t engage in any discussion of the federal marketplace without talking about the 25 Point Plan,” said Nancy Suslov, director of Business Development at Technical and Management Resources Inc. Suslov presented findings from TechAmerica Foundation’s recent study of the federal IDIQ market outlook.
We’re looking at almost 80% of the federal IT budget going through IDIQ contracts by 2017.”
According to Suslov, IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery – Indefinite Quantity) contracting will experience robust growth over the next five years and is one of the most important parts of the federal market. IDIQ contracts “absorb a lot of the major initiatives that were in the 25 point plan, including solutions for consolidated data centers and cloud computing,” said Suslov.
Suslov said the evolution of IDIQ contracts have helped agencies acquire services in smaller, more defined tasks, providing greater flexibility on certain types of IT projects. TechAmerica’s review of 17 baseline IDIQ contracts showed that they represent 60% of the federal IT budget.
“And it is really significantly growing. We’re looking at almost 80% of the federal IT budget going through IDIQ contracts” by 2017, she said. “And if you’re not attuned to that you’re really missing a significant portion of the marketplace.”
The value of most baseline IDIQs is in the $2 billion to $3 billion range.
That’s especially true if you are a small business, Suslov added. The last several years has seen a tremendous amount of focus on small business, including White House memorandums encouraging agencies to use more small businesses in contracts and major federal purchasers, like the Defense Department, using their contract vehicles to meet their small business goals.
“Now every single IDIQ contract and every schedule can be a mechanism to use to meet small business requirements,” Suslov said.
Kevin Youel Page, deputy assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services at the General Services Administration (GSA), said the 25-Point Plan includes many valuable initiatives that the GSA is now working to incorporate into all existing and future contract vehicles.
“We’re trying to build into these considerations some of the environmental initiatives that came out [of the 25-Point Plan] and spend smarter initiatives,” said Page. “We built an entire solution set around Green IT,” he added.
“We have a pilot underway to do tele-presence, which is helping us to save money on travel and increasing the frequency with which we can undertake meeting s internally. So we don’t have to wait a quarter or half a year to get together with other partners across the country.”
GSA is also looking at contracting vehicles to help people think through how to get through cloud computing challenges and how to move down the data center consolidation path, said Page. And when new contracting vehicles are announced these new initiatives “are fundamentally embedded,” he said.
But not all of the welcome changes and efforts to streamline federal contracting have been products of the 25-Point Plan. Many have been the result of career acquisition professionals like Darlene Coen, deputy program manager for NASA’s SEWP contract, who have made changes to the way they administer contracts to better meet the business needs of agencies.
“For, the main reason customers are attracted to the contract vehicle are customer service and the speed at which actions go through our contract vehicle,” said Coen.
“There’s also a lot to be said about the flexibility of [SEWP]. The fact that our business guarantee is that we process everything within one business day. We used to say it was a goal. Now we tell customers if we don’t respond or at least work on an answer for you within one business day, you don’t pay the fee.”
SEWP has seen a 30% growth every year for the past three years.
IDIQ contracts have also been instrumental for cloud computing projects including intiatives at the Department of Defense and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said Robert Coen, deputy program director for the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center.
NITAAC administers governmentwide acquisition contracts that are competitive with other GWACS, such as those from GSA, which helps keep costs down across the government.
A video of the entire panel discussion is available at AFFIRM.org at: http://www.affirm.org/videos/video-library. The video includes a review of the study’s findings, by Nancy Suslov, Director, Business Development, AAST/Technical and Management Resources, Inc., and comments from:
- Robert Coen, Deputy Program Director, NITAAC, NIH
- Darlene Coen, Deputy Program Manager, NASA SEWP
- Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Integrated Technology Services (ITS),GSA