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FCW : July 15, 2015
turned into actual meetings, but Rich- ard Blake, a GSA business management specialist and IT technical adviser, said that over the course of 29 days, he took part in 106 meetings and came away with important notes “from about 105 of them.” Essentially, Kelley said, the strategy was to listen to industry representatives until no one wanted to talk anymore. “We’re doing everything we can to listen to industry,” he said, “and also to...our customers in all the agencies.” What is there to talk about? By most measures, Alliant and Alliant Small Business have been a success. In six years, agencies have issued nearly 900 task orders, totaling some $27 bil- lion worth of IT services. Several of the contract holders have “graduated” out of their small-business status. Task orders have come from 60 agencies and ranged from $37,000 to $2 billion; without the outliers, the average is $33 million. So part of the challenge is simply to make sure Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 Small Business keep a good thing going. And that’s no small task when technology is evolving so rapidly and the acquisition vehicle in question is supposed to cover IT needs for a decade. Much of the industry feedback to date, in fact, has focused on the draft RFP’s section on “leading-edge technologies” — a section that Blake stressed would not define the scope of Alliant 2 but is nonetheless a critical gauge of “industry interest about where things are headed.” The contract also comes at a time when protests have significantly delayed several other major IT acquisition vehicles. The Air Force’s Network Centric Solu- tions-2 application services contract, for example, made its original awards a year ago but just finalized its list of vendors in late March because successful protests forced a recompete. SEWP V — the latest ver- sion of NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise- Wide Procurement GWAC, which focus- es more on IT products — saw similar, albeit shorter, delays when its October 2014 awards were protested. GSA’s GWAC for professional ser- vices — One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services — also saw its share of protests when awards were made in May 2014, but all were ultimately resolved in GSA’s favor. Kelley and John Cavadias, the GSA senior contracting officer responsible for the Alliant 2 RFP, said they had monitored the OASIS pro- curement closely and are trying to apply what worked to Alliant 2. “We’re using the procurement tech- nique of highly technically rated and fair and reasonable pricing, which is the technique OASIS used,” Cavadias said. “We watched all the protests be resolved.... It was found to be innova- tive, but within the rules, allowable.” And rather than using pass/fail crite- ria, officials will assign points to deter- mine which vendors should be added to the Alliant 2 contract, he added. That scoring criteria has prompted plenty of questions and concerns from industry, but Cavadias was confident the trans- parency would pay off. “Making this...as objective as pos- sible, allowing industry to tell us what we’re doing wrong — it’s very helpful to us” in mitigating some of the problems and possible protests, he said. Open, but with discretion No one expects Alliant 2 to avoid pro- tests entirely, but the industry response to GSA’s listening tour has so far been positive. “I think the Alliant team is doing an incredible job,” Jackie Everett, vice president for federal civilian business development at Hewlett-Packard, told FCW. Getting something as complicated as Alliant 2 right demands frank and full discussions between government and industry, she said, and “they’re using all sorts of communication models to make that happen.” July 15, 2015 FCW.COM 19 0715fcw_018-020.indd 19 6/23/15 3:54 PM
June 30, 2015
July 30, 2015