Government Contract Vehicles Every Small Business Should Know About
As a small business, you have a lot of resources available to help you succeed in the government marketplace. In an effort to increase small business participation, the federal government has designated small business contracting vehicles set aside specifically to support small business efforts. Small businesses can also compete in other contract vehicles meant for both large and small businesses.
It’s important you are aware of upcoming small business contracting opportunities and current small business contracting vehicles because they may lend future opportunities. With all the updates and changes happening in GSA, we know it can be difficult keep up, so we created a list of small business contracting vehicles current and prospective GSA contractors should keep their eye on.
Upcoming Contract Vehicles for Small Businesses
GSA’s Polaris GWAC
The new Polaris Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) is currently in the development phase with GSA. The Polaris contract vehicle is classified as total small-business set-aside and is intended to provide government agencies an efficient way to access award-winning small Information Technology (IT), HUBZone, and Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) firms. GSA created GWACs like Polaris so small businesses have the opportunity to provide Best in Class (BIC) IT solutions to the federal government.
The scope of this contract will include, but is not limited to:
- Comprehensive IT services that span advanced and quantum computing
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Automation technology
- Edge computing
- Cloud services
GSA released an initial Polaris draft RFP in SAM.gov late last year under Notice ID 47QTCB21N0002 for industry partners and stakeholders to review and provide feedback. Since posting the initial RFP draft, GSA has posted updates that a second RFP draft will be released soon just ahead of the final solicitation.
GSA has not released any definitive dates for posting the final solicitation, however, the final RFP is said to be released no earlier than the fall of 2021. Small business GSA contractors are highly encouraged to review the RFP drafts and GSA responses and provide additional feedback.
For additional insight, latest updates on Polaris, and other government contracting vehicles, you can subscribe and join the Small Business GWAC community of interest. You can also download Polaris Update – May 2021 to see the latest updates from GSA or send questions to Polaris@gsa.gov.
GSA BIC MAC OASIS Follow-On
In 2014, GSA released the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) contract, which was created for non-IT professional services. Since OASIS will end in 2024, GSA is preparing for a contract vehicle to take its place. It does not have an official name but is often referred to as the BIC MAC, or Best in Class Multi-Agency Contract, OASIS 2, or Next Generation Services Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). GSA released a second Request for Information (RFI) in early June 2021.
Although the contract vehicle is still in the early stages, it’s important for contractors to keep up with it because the earlier you get involved in the process, the better chance you have at successfully winning a contract award. This contract vehicle is not solely for small businesses, but there will be plenty of opportunities for small businesses to enroll. Here’s what we know about this BIC MAC so far:
- This new IDIQ may have open enrollment, and no cap unlike other GWACs.
- The BIC MAC will most likely be one contract instead of splitting up into small business and unrestricted contracts like OASIS did.
- GSA is considering a longer period of performance instead of the typical 10 years for GWACs.
- A lot of the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) streamlined and effective practices will be incorporated into the acquisition of BIC MAC. However, GSA does not intend to duplicate the MAS.
Scope of the BIC MAC
The types of services that will be offered under the BIC MAC are not finalized, but IT services will not be under consideration. The current scope of this contract includes:
- Technical and Engineering
- Research and Development
- Management and Advisory Services
- Business Administration
- Financial Services
- Environmental Services
- Marketing and PR
- Human Services
Following CIO-SP3, the National institute of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) released the Request for Proposal for CIO-SP4 in May of 2021. CIO-SP4 is a GWAC designed to meet agencies’ IT, biomedical, and health needs. This 5-year IDIQ has a $50 billion contract ceiling and a 5-year option for renewal.
CIO-SP4 is not a total small business set-aside, but it was created with the idea that both qualified large and small businesses would be awarded spots. CIO-SP4 will provide government agencies quick and affordable IT services and solutions across 10 task areas:
- Digital Media
- Chief Information Officer Support
- IT operations and maintenance
- Integration services
- Digital government and cloud services
- Enterprise resource planning
- Software development
Current Small Business Contract Vehicles
8(a) STARS II and 8(a) STARS III
8(a) STARS II is set to expire in August of 2021, but it will be replaced by 8(a) STARS III. 8(a) STARS III is a governmentwide contracting vehicle intended to strengthen opportunities for highly certified 8(a) small-disadvantaged businesses providing solutions within the Information Technology (IT) industry. GWACs, such as 8(a) STARS III, provide agencies access to IT solutions in several categories.
GSA released the first round of 8(a) III STARS awardees in June 2021. Awardees of this contract will participate under the $50 billion program ceiling and five-year base period with a single three-year renewal option. 8(a) STARS III will build upon the framework of 2015’s 8(a) STARS II, providing more flexible access to customized IT solutions and emerging technologies ranging from simple IT services like help-desk support, to more complex services like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
While the RFP has already gone out and GSA has begun notifying awardees, GSA may choose to on-ramp other small businesses at a later date, so it’s important to keep up with the announcements related to this contract vehicle.
To learn more about STARS III features and benefits, download GSA’s Coming Soon! 8(a) STARS III: Information Technology Solutions for Your Mission Requirements pdf.
NOAA Mission IT Services (NMITS) Contract
GSA has recently created a $2.1 billion contract which will grant the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) access to IT tools and services. This small business set-aside multiple-award Blanket Purchase Agreement will be a part of GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS).
The NOAA Mission IT Services contract will cover application administration, enterprise and cloud computing, cybersecurity, and information assurance. This contract will allow NOAA to deliver full scope of IT services and solutions for Line Offices, Staff Offices, and Corporate Services Offices.
The vendors have already been selected for this small business contracting vehicle, but there's a chance for more companies to be on-ramped in the future.
VETS 2 (SDVOSB)
VETS 2 (SDVOSB), also well defined by name, is the only government contracting vehicle set-aside solely for Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) however, much like it’s GWAC cohort, it is designed for IT service providers and modern and developing technologies.
This contract extends through February 22, 2023, with a 5-year option to extend to 2028, and a program ceiling of $5 billion. As a set-aside for SDVOSB’s, with currently 68 award holders, it’s a pretty competitive pool. VETS 2 also has a Best-In-Class designation, meaning it’s a preferred governmentwide solution.
What Are the Benefits of Small Business Contract Vehicles?
Small business contract vehicles reduce the added pressures of competing against larger businesses. Work and revenue are channeled to smaller contactors, contributing to agency small business goals. Federal government agencies rely on several of these contract vehicles to procure the solutions they need to succeed.
Even if a contract vehicle isn’t solely for small businesses, there are often plenty of opportunities and specific slots for small businesses to compete. Whether your small business performs as a prime contractor or subcontractor, these vehicles were created for the success of both contractors and the government.
Are You Looking to Get on a Small Business Contracting Vehicle?
Acquiring a multiple-award government contract vehicle is a smart measure for small businesses looking for long-term contributions to their development goals. Federal agencies prioritize small business spending and frequently utilize government contract vehicles to meet socioeconomic goals.
Set-aside GWACs such as 8(a) STARS, CIO-SP-4 Polaris, BIC MAC, and VETS (SDVOSB) provide a competitive environment specific to certain small businesses with socioeconomic designations and increased potential to bid and win awards.
For additional questions on government contracting vehicles or acquiring a GSA Schedule, feel free to contact one of Winvale’s government contracting consultants. Do you want to be looped in on the latest news and updates on GSA? You can also subscribe to our blog or monthly newsletter.