The General Services Administration this week is expected to issue a request for industry proposals for its big upcoming OASIS contract — with some concessions to industry concerns.
The One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services contract, or OASIS, is a governmentwide acquisition vehicle for complex, integrated services, such as engineering, scientific and financial management.
GSA officials have touted the multibillion-dollar OASIS as a “next generation contract vehicle” helping agencies meet professional services needs in a way they can’t by using less flexible multiple awards schedules. OASIS will allow for variety of contract types, including hybrid and cost reimbursable.
But one persistent and early concern among industry observers was that GSA, in a draft request for proposals, insisted on a contractor scoring approach giving more weight to contractor past performance on government projects than to private-sector work.
When questioned about the approach by an industry trade group about two months ago, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini didn’t defend the provision, but he didn’t promise any changes, either. Instead, he pledged to get an explanation from his agency’s OASIS team.
Weeks later, Jim Ghiloni, GSA’s program manager for OASIS, wrote in a blog post that, among other OASIS changes, scoring variance between federal and nonfederal work to demonstrate past performance was removed.
The change came after the Professional Services Council (PSC), a prominent trade group, told GSA in a letter that it didn’t make sense for commercial-sector past performance to be given less weight than government work.
“In fact, the federal government has a long record of permitting and evaluating contractor past performance on commercial sector work,” PSC’s chief executive, Stan Soloway, wrote in a letter to GSA seeking the change.
Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president for PSC, called GSA’s initial approach “artificial” in a recent interview.
“The quality of the work is the quality of the work,” he said. “Sometimes, the work in the commercial sector is as sophisticated or more so than some of the government projects.”
Chvotkin said industry won’t get everything it wants, but he credited GSA with having an open dialogue.
“I think GSA is doing everything it can to balance out the needs of the government agencies with the ability of the private sector to compete for, win and ultimately be able to fulfill the agency needs,” he said.
Still, Ghiloni explained in another recent blog post on the GSA website that OASIS — and OASIS SB, a set-aside contract for small businesses — shouldn’t be a company’s first foray into federal contracting.
“There are a great deal of unique features to government contracting, and there is great value to our customers in knowing that all OASIS and OASIS SB primes know how to manage the federal procurement process,” Ghiloni wrote.
While he said the initial scoring approach penalized commercial work, Ghiloni said enough scoring factors lean favorably toward government work that there’s no need to downgrade scores for commercial experiences.
“We don’t expect any perfect scores, even for individual experiences,” he wrote. “Some commercial work will score out higher than some federal and vice versa and that is fine with us.”
The contract figures prominently into Tangherlini’s goal of increasing how much other agencies rely on GSA to buy products and services.
“We want to be the U.S. government’s buying agency,” he said. “We want to realize the point of why we were created.” ■