Jennifer Sakole is the principal analyst for Federal Information Solutions at Deltek. Her experience spans 20 years in the federal market in various roles including proposal writer, pricing analyst, marketing manager and account manager. She has been with INPUT and Deltek for over a decade. ()
An upcoming governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) will offer up to $10 billion for contractors -- when it's finally released.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center’s (NITAAC) Chief Information Officer –Commodity Solutions (CIO-CS) is a new, yet-to-be-approved GWAC intended to replace the Electronic Commodity Store (ECS III) GWAC.
The Office of Management and Budget is still in the process of approving the new GWAC, so there’s no telling when the solicitation will be released.
For the many companies that have had this vehicle in their pipelines and are ready to bid, we can assume that the delay is frustrating; however, others who haven’t already considered the opportunity may welcome it.
This blog post is for the latter group. Here’s everything you need to know about CIO-CS in 600 words.
What is CIO-CS?
CIO-CS is a 10-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, with a $10 billion ceiling value. It is a new GWAC that will replace ECS III, which was awarded in 2002 and has recently-extended contracts that are anticipated to expire in November 2014.
Reported spending on ECS III has totaled $2.2 billion since fiscal 2002, with peak years in fiscal 2012 and 2013.
CIO-CS will offer IT commodities and solutions to the entire federal government that support health and life sciences and areas of IT operations like security, infrastructure, telecommunications and desktop applications. There are nine commodity and solution categories identified in the draft RFP.
It is anticipated that there will be 10 to 15 awards under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 334111, and 30 to 40 awards under NAICS 541519.
Only one RFP is planned; however, approximately half of the awards are expected to be made to small businesses.
The most recent draft solicitation was released in June 2013, and the final solicitation will not be released until the OMB approves the new GWAC.
Is there a difference between ECS III and CIO-CS?
The most notable difference can be identified by one word: cloud. NITAAC has stated that CIO-CS is intended to offer a “whole new spectrum of products and services both on-site and in the cloud” in line with “market conditions and trends.”
For the nine commodity and solutions categories identified, companies are requested to identify which commodities can be deployed using an on-premise model, managed services model (including cloud) or both.
What’s the typical wait for GWAC approval?
We won’t see the final CIO-CS solicitation until the OMB issues approval, and the government is unable to project when that may be. To attempt an estimate of when the approval may come, we can look to the past.
While not the same process, several years ago, the General Services Administration (GSA) challenged NITAAC’s government-wide contracting authority. As a result, NITAAC was required to submit documents for review by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in April 2010, at a time when the final solicitations for the follow-on Chief Information Officer – Solutions and Partners (CIO-SP3) GWACs were reportedly ready to be issued.
Upon completion of the review, which resulted in NITAAC retaining its contracting authority, the CIO-SP3 unrestricted solicitation was released in September 2010, followed by the CIO-SP3 Small Business solicitation in October. Approximate timeframe: five to six months.
More recently, the GSA’s requisite business case for the new One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) vehicle was submitted in December 2012, and the final RFP was released in July 2013. Approximate timeframe: eight months.
We first heard news of a delayed CIO-CS solicitation release in late September 2013; prior to that, NITAAC representatives had stated that the RFP was expected to be released in August 2013. Since September, the procurement has been at a standstill while awaiting OMB approval. Time since OMB approval was first referenced: six months.
What can you do now to be ready?
If you haven’t started to prepare responses, you’ll want to review the draft RFP, start writing responses and develop your strawman price proposal. If you have completed drafts, now is the time to refine responses to ensure your message is well-defined and you are able to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Remember: Compliance is king!
Secure your place on a team, if you have not already done so. For tips, you may want to refer back to my blog post from last month in which I share insights into what task order center managers are looking for when being approached for teaming opportunities.
Watch for news of the CIO-CS approval and consequent solicitation release. Deltek expects the solicitation will hit the street soon after the approval is received.