Next year will be a big one for small-business governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) at the General Services Administration, said Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner of the Office of Information Technology Category.
The $50 billion STARS III solicitation for small IT businesses closed in August and will be awarded in fiscal 2021, while a second, Polaris, is being geared toward emerging technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence.
GWACs — intended to help agencies buy innovative software and IT systems — are pre-competed, multiple-award and indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity. And Polaris, in particular, is being used to introduce competition at the task order level and expand the government’s pool of small business contractors.
A draft request for proposals (RFP) is coming soon, Stanton said, without giving a set date.
“I would say that the future is fairly near in this case,” Stanton said, during an AFFIRM webinar Wednesday.
GSA hopes Polaris will grow the number of women-owned and HUBZone IT contractors agencies work with.
Other GSA focuses
Meanwhile, changes to the National Defense Authorization Act have made GSA’s Office of IT Category realize it needs to improve the understanding of the IT infrastructure portfolio among contracting officers, said Keith Nakasone, deputy assistant commissioner.
“Education and training will be one of our main focuses in and around cybersecurity and supply chain risk management … for the acquisition workforce at large,” Nakasone said.
On Tuesday, Stanton and Allen Hill, acting deputy assistant commissioner for category management, met with an agency seeking GSA’s support to meet upcoming deadlines in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
GSA has offered to help agencies that have awarded all of their EIS task orders with acquisition support on solicitations and strategies, and Hill was optimistic things were going better than with EIS’s predecessor.
“We’re in a much better position than we were with the transition that happened with Networx,” Hill said. “Would we like to be in a much better position than we’re at right now? Of course we would.”
One federal employee complained in the webinar comment section that adding agencies’ EIS status to the latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act scorecard hasn’t helped, forcing the rank and file to justify their scores to management rather than performing transition work.
Hill said he understood because GSA is “continuously responding to Congress on EIS status for all the agencies,” but that the change was out of his hands.
“That decision to add EIS to the scorecard, that was between Congress and [the Government Accountability Office],” Hill said. “GSA does not decide that, and so I can empathize.”