The National Institutes of Health wants to add more companies to its CIO-Solutions and Partners 3 (CIO-SP3) Small Business governmentwide acquisition vehicle and has declared open season for potential vendors.

The GWAC is one of three managed by the NIH IT Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) and the only one set-aside entirely for small businesses, including service disabled veteran owned (SDVOSB), 8(a) and HUBZone vendors.

There are currently 94 contract-holders on the small business GWAC. NITAAC expects to award an additional 20 to 35 slots during the ramp-on period, with an eye toward boosting participation from some of the small business categories that are currently underrepresented, according to NITAAC Director Robert Coen.

"We're doing this now to ensure we have sufficient competition in all of the socio-economic categories," Coen told Federal Times, explaining the GWAC needs to add more SDVOSB and HUBZone businesses, in particular.

Coen also noted CIO-SP3 SB is at the halfway mark of its 10-year life, which means all current contract holders will have to recertify their small business status.

A number of businesses have outgrown that status since getting on the vehicle — which Coen attributes to the success of CIO-SP3. Though these vendors won't be kicked off the small business GWAC, agencies buying from those companies won't get the credit toward their set-aside quotas.

Adding more small businesses to the vehicle will make sure it is still a valuable resource for agencies looking to meet their small business contracting goals.

The contract vehicle offers access to IT services — rather than hardware — including CIO support, outsourcing, IT operations and maintenance, integration services, critical infrastructure protection and information assurance and software development, among others.

The new additions will be available for task orders through the end of the current vehicle life: 2022. The vehicle has a ceiling of $20 billion.

Bids are due by April 18 and any questions should be submitted by March 25.

NITAAC plans to announce the awards by the end of January 2017.