On May 19, when the General Services Administration awarded its long-awaited OASIS contract, it was not just the end of another contract solicitation process but the beginning of the agency's effort to reinvent itself.

OASIS is a governmentwide acquisition contract that offers professional services, such as financial management and engineering, scientific and logistics services that agencies can tap to augment their own staffs.

The contract is divided into two portions – one for small businesses and one for companies of any size. There are 123 small business divided into eight different groups depending on their overall size and annual revenue. On the unrestricted portion there are 74 companies spread across six different pools, divided by type of service.

The market for all of the services offered through OASIS adds up to about $60 billion per year, according to research firm Deltek. The company estimates GSA may capture between 5 percent and 10 percent of the market through OASIS — up to $6 billion a year.

But the contract is not static. GSA plans to create on- and off-ramps to allow companies to leave the contract and make room for new companies, according to OASIS program executive officer Jim Ghiloni. GSA is also providing training to agencies and contracting professionals across government in order to answer questions and make the contract easier to use and understand.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, has said OASIS is a new type of contract that will help the agency double its market share by 2017. By creating a simple contract solution for multiple types of services, the agency is cutting duplication and lowering costs.

A keystone for change

OASIS serves as the keystone to a new digitally-focused contracting system that GSA is setting up to provide an array of easy-to-use services across government.

"I think GSA is trying to leverage some of those relationships and some of the lessons learned on OASIS into – and across our entire program," said Ghiloni.

The new GSA system will create five acquisition areas for agencies, and eventually GSA will set up an interactive website to provide agencies with the tools and expertise to choose the services and contracts they want. And OASIS is integral to that process. But it all began with OASIS, Ghiloni said.

"OASIS is one of the foundations along with our professional services schedules and potentially other vehicles to come to really make sure that we are meeting customer demand for good vehicles to get their solutions," he said.

The OASIS contract is also a major attempt by the agency to build a community through blogging and social media tools. The online community at interact.gsa.gov already has more than 8,400 members and is regularly updated with information on meetings, new blog posts and important dates.

The agency also reached out to companies and industry groups many times over the two-year award process, to gather feedback and incorporate industry input into the awards process, according to GSA.

And even after GSA awarded the OASIS contract the agency is continuing to work with its contractors and agency customers to make the contract stronger, Ghiloni said.

"Its about ongoing management of the contract, managing that relationship with industry - managing a relationship with our customers and always touching base with them to make sure that they are getting a positive experience with OASIS," he said. If they find an issue or receive constructive feedback they have mechanisms they can use to fix those problems.

Likely customers

But who will use OASIS? Jennifer Sakole, the principal analyst for Federal Information Solutions at Deltek, said the Health and Human Services Department is a likely user of the OASIS contract.

As other agencies such as DHS need to re-compete their contract vehicles, the availability of the OASIS contract will force them to decide if they should continue using those other contracts, she added.

Tony Pagliaro, the GSA account lead at Deloitte Consulting LLP., which secured a spot on the unrestricted portion of OASIS, said the company has made an investment in and a commitment to OASIS and is excited about the opportunities.

"We've also made a commitment to help make potential users aware of the vehicle. OASIS is in the beginning stages and right now we're all waiting to see what comes through," Pagliaro said.

George DelPrete, a principal and GSA account partner at Grant Thornton, which won a spot on the OASIS contract, said the collaborative and engaging process should become a model for other agencies to follow.

"I think GSA did a wonderful job of gathering industry perspectives through the entire process and using it to shape the development of the opportunity," DelPrete said. "I would love to see other agencies use these methods as they craft their own procurements."

He said other agencies should follow GSA's lead on its use of online sites like its interact page – which promoted discussion among contractors and the agency.

The company is already eagerly anticipating the task orders under the contract, and he said there are already opportunities he sees coming down the pipeline.