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OASIS: The future of GSA contracting is transparency, flexibility

Jun. 3, 2014 - 07:30AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel, Professional Services Council says OASIS takes an innovative approach to transparency for bidders.
Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel, Professional Services Council says OASIS takes an innovative approach to transparency for bidders. (Gannett Government Media Corp)

The General Services Administration is using its recently-awarded OASIS contract as a template for transparency, industry cooperation and flexibility on its future contracts, according to the agency.

GSA awarded its 10-year, multibillion dollar OASIS contract to 74 companies on May 19. OASIS is governmentwide acquisition contract that offers professional services, such as financial management and engineering, scientific and logistics services.

OASIS also features separate contracts for small businesses and larger firms and is valued at around $6 billion a year in agency business.

Tom Sharpe, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, said GSA sees the OASIS contract vehicle as a model for a future of flexible multi-solution contracts,

He said GSA contracts like OASIS will help prevent the need for brand new and duplicative procurement actions while offering agencies transparent pricing and digitally focused tools to communicate with agency customers.

GSA reached out to industry throughout the OASIS process using blogs, social media and other methods and established a transparency grading system for companies to understand where they stood in the process.

Sharpe said eventually contracts modeled after OASIS will help reduce duplication of procurement effort within the government and provide a smartly crafted solution where there wasn’t one before.

“Folks might argue, and I might agree we are a little late to bring that to them, a little late to see that need,” he said. “But OASIS is wonderful.”

Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the Professional Services Council, said OASIS represents a new way of contracting that provides flexibility for agency customers and for contractors.

The contract allows companies to offer different reimbursement methods and the extensive use of social media and industry collaboration helped broaden the number of companies competing for spots.

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“GSA learned an awful lot about not only how to support agencies but also how to entice quality bidders into the procurement process,” he said.

He said GSA also created a transparent scoring process so that companies could evaluate how well they fit the contract requirements—something agencies often keep secret.

“That’s a fairly innovative approach from OASIS to disclose that information and I think that’s a good thing,” Chvotkin said.

He said while the overall procurement time of two years was too long the agency will be able to cut that down now that it has done it once. But in order to take the lessons learned and the positives of the OASIS contract and apply it to future contracts GSA will need leadership and dedication.

“It does take some work and some leadership commitment to follow that path,” he said.

GSA delayed the OASIS contract twice; once due to the October 2013 government shutdown and again after feedback from contractors.

Roger Waldron, the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said overall OASIS has many good features such as extensive collaboration and multiple types of cost reimbursement. However, he said, as GSA moves forward on new contracts it needs to drive down the cost companies incur to bid, and to maintain the high level of collaboration with industry.

“I think there are some good pieces of it. I think there are some concerns that that they will need to think about,” Waldron said.

Not every company is happy. Several companies have already filed bid protests against the contract.

VSE Corporation, American Systems Corporation, the Logistics Management Institute and Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company all filed protests May 27. Smartronix, Inc., filed a protest one day later. Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company also filed bid protests during the pre-award phase of the contract, which were denied.

The Government Accountability Office has until Sept. 4 to render a decision. The GAO sustains only a small number of bid protests, but agencies and contractors often agree to a settlement prior to that decision. Settlements could include re-opening the contract to the denied contractor.

GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said the agency was confident the protests would be resolved quickly.

“We are incredibly excited to provide this comprehensive contracting tool for federal agencies, which will save them time, and taxpayers money,” Hobson said.

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