Sequestration and spending cuts did not stop the General Services Administration’s Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services (STARS) II small business GWAC from receiving a record amount of business in fiscal 2013, and 2014 may be even better, according to experts.
Christopher Fornecker, the GWAC director at GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Service, said the agency expects to exceed the $626 million spending total that the GWAC logged in 2013, despite continued budget pressure.
The STARS II GWAC began taking orders in Aug. 31, 2011. It allows agencies to direct task orders of less than $4 million to one of several hundred small businesses on the contract. The businesses offer IT services such as computer programming, design and network services, according to GSA.
That the 2013 spending growth came despite a year of significant budget cuts shows agencies value the contract even as they cut back on some forms of IT spending, he said.
Fornecker added that both STARS II and its predecessor have helped small businesses work with agencies to meet their IT needs.
“Each iteration demonstrated how, given the opportunity, small businesses can develop, grow, and move on to become successful, long-term partners with the federal government,” he said.
Fornecker said GSA has not made a formal decision regarding whether it will extend the STARS II contract; the decision will come in the months before the contract expires Aug. 30, 2016, he said.
Agencies have spent $978 million in the first three years of the STARS II GWAC.
Jennifer Sakole, principal analyst of federal information solutions at research firm Deltek, said STARS II has attracted a wide range of agency spending across a large number of small businesses.
While the Defense Department led the field at $245 million in spending, the State Department and the Agriculture Department also spend significantly through the program -- $102 million from State, $76 million from USDA. While spending under the contract could increase next year, GWACs tend to peak and then shrink as the deadline extension approaches, Sakole said.
STARS II helps the State Department meet its small business spending goals and builds relationships with small businesses, according to the agency. It is also easier and faster to use an existing GWAC than to create a new contract. “It allows the department to achieve the best value while reducing administrative cost,” spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff said.
Currently, the federal government’s small business prime contracting goal is set at 23 percent of all contracting dollars. This amount also includes set aside contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Historically Underutilized Business Zones.
Jay Challa, the CEO of IT hardware and networking company Ace Info Solutions, LLC., said agencies appreciate the short procurement time – which could take less than a week.
He added the contract allows for agencies to negotiate several types of contractors such as fixed price or cost plus.
“This vehicle is very flexible and covers a wide variety of IT tasks and it is easy to use,” Challa said.