GSA begins work on new small business IT contract, Polaris

The GSA building in Washington, D.C. (Tajha Chappellet-Lanier / FedScoop)

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The General Services Administration plans to increase the quality and diversity of IT available to agencies with a new governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) geared toward small businesses.

Named Polaris after the “guiding star” in the night sky, the contract will increase the pool of qualified small businesses that provide emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G gear, as well as areas such as robotic process automation, cybersecurity and cloud services.

GSA intends to use Section 876 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to award task orders without considering prices for services acquired on an hourly rate basis, wrote Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner of the Office of IT Category, in a blog announcing Polaris earlier this month.

“As this would shift the focus to pricing competition at the task order level, it is important that we continue our efforts to increase competition in the marketplace by creating opportunities for qualified small businesses,” Stanton wrote.

That will include open season on-ramps to expand the number of small businesses — including underrepresented socioeconomic categories like HUBZone and women-owned businesses — on the GWAC after its initial award.

GSA is further considering an online proposal submission tool and solicitation self-scoring to expedite the process, and vendors are encouraged to join its Small Business GWAC Community of Interest to weigh in on potential features.

“We are in the very early stages of the process and are looking forward to continuing dialogue with our industry partners and agency customers,” Stanton wrote. “We’re working to release a request for information this month and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get a draft request for proposals out within the next few months.”

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5G, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, General Services Administration (GSA), governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), Laura Stanton, Polaris
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