GSA launches $50B STARS III solicitation for small IT businesses

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The General Services Administration is requesting proposals from small businesses under its $50 billion STARS III governmentwide IT contract.

STARS III is open to small, disadvantaged prime contractors participating in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Businesses Development program. 8(a) businesses are those “owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”

The 10-year contract will build on the preceding STARS II by focusing more on emerging technologies and performance outside of the continental United States (OCONUS), GSA said in an announcement.

“We are excited to expand the scope of the STARS III GWAC to cover OCONUS performance and address emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and virtual reality,” Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Julie Dunne said in a statement. “STARS III will increase opportunities for hundreds of 8(a) companies at a time when we’re heavily relying on their expertise to modernize the federal government’s IT infrastructure and improve virtual service delivery for citizens and employees in the U.S. and abroad.”

At $50 billion, STARS III is more than twice the size of STARS II, which has a $22 billion ceiling after GSA recently raised it from $15 billion.

“STARS III continues GSA’s legacy of creating opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses while helping federal agencies accomplish information technology (IT) missions,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement.

While much of federal IT contracting places and emphasis on commercial products and services, STARS III promotes customized IT solutions to meet agencies’ most unique needs. Under the contract, agencies can issue vendors direct task orders of $4 million or less. Anything more than that, an agency must compete that work among the larger pool of STARS III contractors.

The solicitation comes at a time when GSA is “planning a new approach” for small business IT governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs). Late last week, the agency announced it had canceled the solicitation of its $15 billion Alliant 2 Small Business governmentwide IT contract after it was plagued with protests.  GSA said in a release that “the federal government’s requirements have evolved and GSA recognizes the opportunity to strengthen, innovate, and better respond to changing technology needs and security threats.”

GSA directed agencies to the STARS II and III contracts to make up for the loss as it develops a “new and enhanced” GWAC for small businesses that will better reflect “the changing landscape and addresses the needs of agencies to access the expertise of small businesses” and better support “recent developments in cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and supply chain risk management.”

The STARS GWACs have played a special role both helping agencies meet socioeconomic goals and finding the innovative IT solutions they need.

“The 8(a) STARS program has served for years as a small business accelerator into the competitive government contracting marketplace, with a significant number of prior 8(a) STARS program participants growing their business so much that we now see them thriving with the big companies on GSA’s Alliant 2 GWAC,” said Laura Stanton, acting assistant commissioner for GSA’s Office of the Information Technology Category.

Bids are due Aug. 5.

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alliant 2, General Services Administration (GSA), GWAC, small business, Small Business Administration (SBA), STARS II, STARS III
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