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The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is the Department of Defense (DoD) combat support agency that provides information technology and communications support to DoD agencies, the military services, combatant commands, and mission and coalition partners. DISA’s Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) is the core global enterprise network DISA uses to provide connectivity.

DISN’s current communication network program in partitioned by multiple geographic regions spanning nine contracts.  DISA envisions a future single consolidated DISN network.  This effort is named the Global Network Services (GNS) program.

GNS Contract

The GNS contract will provide the vehicle for DISA to acquire telecommunications network solutions and services that improve or enhance the DISN. This IDIQ contract is valued at $4 billion over a five-year base period with five one-year options.  

Completion is full and open. An awardee becomes a Multiple Award Contractor (MAC).  MACs can lead to future task orders issued under the GNS contract vehicle.  DISA anticipates a minimum of two MACs.

GNS Service Requirements

The GNS solicitation covers engineering, furnishing, installing, testing, and maintaining transmission services, capabilities, and circuits. Key service requirements are:

  •  Network capacity services
  • Telecommunications network data transfer services
  • Satellite communication services
  • Wireless services
  • Equipment installation

Additional services will be used to equip the DISN with sufficient capability to support multimedia services including voice, data, video, and imagery transfer at any time or place.  Secondary requirements include logistics support, IT professional services, and software and systems software. Provision of services will occur in both CONUS and OCONUS.   

This program is of interest to wired communication carriers, wireless communication carriers, and satellite communication carriers and teams that combine these types of communication services.

GNS Contract Vehicle

DISA has spent more than a year developing its strategy for the GNS contract.  Deltek predicts that the final solicitation will be released in February. Awards are anticipated in September 2015. The contract is directed by DISA’s Procurement Directorate at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

GNS Proposal Responses

Responses must consist of a five-volume set provided as an Internet upload and burned to CD-ROMs. The Technical and Management Volume is the largest of the set at approximately 200 pages. The Past Performance Volume requires completion of questionnaires by customers.

The US Army’s $37.4 billion Responsive Strategic Sourcing for Services (RS3) IDIQ contract will be among one of the most hotly competed programs this year.  Given the high dollar value and the different award categories, the Army will likely receive well over 100, maybe over 200 proposals. Approximately 30 large businesses and 20 small businesses will receive awards, according to the latest information issued by the US Army Contracting Command.  The RS3 procurement (draft solicitation number W15P7T15R0008) is intended to replace a number of existing Army multiple award IDIQ contracts, including S3, R2-3G, WEBS, TIES, and TAOSS.  While incumbents on these contracts with a strong record of successful past performance are well positioned for award on RS3, the draft PWS has been prepared with intentionally broad language and covers a wide range of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) tasks, which opens the door to up and coming competitors.  PWS functional areas include services related to Engineering; Research, Development, Test and Evaluation; Logistics; Acquisition and Strategic Planning; and Education and Training.

 

December 19, 2014 

Background of ALLIANT 2

ALLIANT 2 will likely be the largest services program competed in 2015. The RFI was released on October 24th and the first Industry Day was held on November 2nd. The draft RFP is expected to be released in the next few months.

The ALLIANT 2 Master Contract provides all Federal government agencies and other eligible entities the ability to perform all current, leading edge and/or emerging integrated IT services to satisfy all IT services requirements anywhere and anytime worldwide. Both large business (unrestricted) and small business contracts will be awarded. The unrestricted ceiling is $50B and the small business ceiling is $15B.

The size, history and potential of this contract make it a very desirable target for large and small companies. Over the years several primes have generated significant revenue and corporate growth by winning and then performing on the contract. Numerous ALLIANT primes have booked over $100M on the current contract and several have done significantly more.

Keys to Winning ALLIANT 2

The key to being awarded an ALLIANT 2 contract is effective planning and preparing and submitting an outstanding compliant proposal. Pre-RFP marketing will have little impact. There are so many companies interested in ALLIANT 2 there is little chance that preselling your capabilities will affect your probability of a win. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you come in first or just make the cut. What matters is if you are one of those awarded a contract. If you missed the Industry Day in November this is not a disaster, but don’t miss the next one.

Assign a capture manager as soon as possible. If you don’t have one with ALLIANT experience, find one. This does not have to be a full time commitment, but you need a capture plan, milestones, and regular reviews to position yourself to win. By the time the final RFP is released, you should know exactly what your proposal will look like.

Since unrestricted primes will be required to subcontract a large portion of their work to small businesses, the small business share of the overall contract will be significant. If you are a large business, line up your small business subcontractors before someone else does. If you are a small business, decide if you are going to prime or get on a team you believe will win. Another option is to consider a Partnership or Joint Venture. There are also opportunities for non-small businesses to provide unique capabilities to primes lacking some technical requirements.

Review your past performance now. If it doesn’t meet the requirements spelled out in the RFI, see if it can be enhanced before the final RFP is released. Past performance evaluation is a major factor in winning. Your capture manager should drive this but may need the assistance of your proposal manager.

You have a distinct advantage if you can demonstrate your ability to bring new customers and/or capabilities to the contract. The technical requirements are extensive, and anything you can do to make your proposal stand out will help.

Proposal Must Be Highest Quality

One of the reasons the last procurement took so long was the number of proposals submitted. When there are large numbers of proposals, the first thing the evaluators do is try to decrease the number to evaluate by throwing out non-compliant proposals. Your proposal has to be of the highest quality and absolutely compliant. Make sure your proposal manager has the experience to create a winning proposal and if possible, has already won an ALLIANT contract.

The labor costs you use to win the GWAC are important and are a factor in winning but, they are ceilings and you will probably be required to discount those rates to win a task order.

Successful ALLIANT primes have processes and procedures in place that allow them to effectively receive, review, bid and win task orders rapidly with as little pain as possible and with positive results. If you don’t have a process, work on developing one that you can talk about in your proposal. As an ALLIANT prime, you will receive RFPs from numerous agencies and be required to turn around complete bids quickly.

Questions can be addressed to John Cook at jcook@ociwins.com 

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January 30, 2015

The Contracting Office released a Modification on January 2, 2015. The purpose of the Modification is to advise the industry that due to the volume of questions received from industry in response to the HITTSS-II Industry Awareness Conference, the Contracting Office is in the process of reviewing all inquiries and making any appropriate modification(s) to the acquisition strategy. A revised AMS qualifications will be issued when this activity is completed.

The contract will have a $700 M value because the IRM group will not be using a different vehicle. Further the program has changed name to HITTSS II – Hybrid Information Technology and Telecommunications II Contract.

The presenters provided guidelines as to how the small businesses can be successful in selling the contract. The contractors were advised to focus on target agencies, build relationships, consider teaming and joint ventures, to market aggressively and do networking.

The three tracks in this program include the following:

1. Tract 1 – 8(a) – Computer Related Services - NIACS 141519

2. Track 2 - (HUBzone, SDVOSB, and EDWOSB) - Computer Related Services - NIACS 141519

3. Track 3 – Small Business – Wired Communications Carriers - NIACS 517110

 

The work to come out of this program includes:

1. Computer related services except custom programming, system integration design and facilities management

2. Communications including wired telephone, VOIP, audio, video, broadband, and television

 

The qualifications to win a contract under this solicitation are stringent. They include:

1. Certified small business or SDB

2. Hold GSA schedule 70

3. Have a top secret facility clearance by start of contract

4. 508 compliant

5. Adequate financial infrastructure

The VA will evaluate the bidders’ qualifications in all 5 areas through their Advisory Multi-Step (AMS), which is a down select process. The bidders will be invited to complete the AMS form between December 15 and January 15. An expert panel evaluates the AMS forms with a grade of pass or fail. And successful companies can submit a proposal.

For questions, please contact John Cook at 703-689-9600 or jcook@ociwins.com.

 

November 13, 2014 
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It's a little bit early I know but it's never too soon to be thankful. Let me quickly share one of the reasons I enjoy being in this business. A few years ago, I became involved with the Children's AIDS Fund, a non-profit helping thousands of Africans. I never thought I would have the opportunity to apply my 30+ years in proposal writing to help fight AIDS in Africa. However, work with this group has let me travel to countries like Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa to visit AIDS clinics. The highlight of my trips have been the free proposal training classes I gave to doctors to help them secure funding for their medical centers. I recently received a thank you note from one of these medical directors, and it reminded me of how much we have to be thankful for.

Thank you to all of our consultants, employees, partners, and customers for creating a passionate and caring proposal community.

Russell Smith, President. 

 


Letter from Medical Director in Uganda:

Dear Russell,

This is to register my sincere appreciation for the free training we received from you in Uganda at Children AIDS Fund offices in Kampala.

I was able to use the skills acquired to secure funding for an HIV prevention project amounting to about 600 Million Uganda Shillings.

Through the training I was able to understand the proposal process better than ever
before, learn how to write what the donors wants to read and not what I want to write.
Thank you so much.

Regards,

Dr. Mutabazi Sharif
Medical Director, Bushenyi Medical Centre

November 13, 2014

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On November 6, APMP Nor’easters held their central New England premier Proposal, Pursuits, Business Development and Sales event which was attended by over 100 Proposal and Business Development Professionals. The attendees included large companies such as  Philips, Schneider,GE and Siemens. Attendees were presented with great choices of presentations which included: ”Get Real or Don’t Play! Framework for Success by Shipley and Associates,” "5 Choices for Extraordinary Productivity The Time Matrix” by Franklin Covey, and “ Mistakes I’ve made, Lessons I’ve learned” byBJ Lownie . The closing presentation by Ian Levine, former VP Sales, Iron Mountain, “ Personal Marketing in a Web 2.0 World! What, Why, Where, and How to Establish a Brand" left everyone thinking they had work to do beyond their LinkedIn profile.

A wonderful day of networking and learning could not be sullied by rainy and cold New England weather.

November 19, 2014

Veterans Health Administration (VHA) appears to be picking up the pace of the MASS Procurement, a full/open opportunity for VA-Oriented Integrator-Teams. A single award is anticipated, with nearly a billion dollar value.


Procurement Status: The Contracting Office released the Solicitation on November 19. Proposals are due by January 9, 2015. On November 14, the Contracting Office released the remaining answers from the questions received back in September and issued a new Solicitation number. Moving forward, all MASS correspondence will be under Solicitation number VA118-15-R-0715.The procurement has proceeded slowly up until now, with the following completed: MASS Business Blueprint (May), Industry-Day (June), Q&A (July), and Draft PWS (September). Previously the VA indicated an October release of the solicitation, with no mention of a draft RFP. October, 2014 has seen Q&A General Answers (10- 21), and detailed PWS attachment documents, embedded in the previous modification (October 22). We anticipate the release of the solicitation soon.


Technical: VA requires a commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) based MASS system, with an enormous capability to service VHA’s 50,000 user-schedulers, and handle over 85 million appointments a year. Additionally, VA has committed to utilizing the VistA as its EHR system. VA will concurrently enhance, or evolve, its VistA EHR to achieve its interoperability, clinical and technical objectives. VA has committed to utilize and improve VistA, considered to be one of the best EHR systems, due to its medical and professional user-friendliness. It was designed by doctors for use by doctors. Additionally, VistA EHR is vital to VA’s ability to deliver care to Veterans, Service Members, and their dependencies.


MASS is high priority, anticipated to improve the scheduling as it is incrementally integrated with the Evolved VistA (VE). Deployment across the enterprise is anticipated by 2020. The major VE challenge is the VHA development/deployment of interoperable EHR exchanges of computable health information, with DoD and other healthcare partners. Accordingly, VE architecture will need to interface with MASS, as well as adhere to key open architecture tenets, open interface specifications, and a design enabling open/scalable solutions for a combined VE & MASS.


Interested contractors should have concluded their Capture/Black-Hat phase of intelligence gathering, SWOT and competitive analysis. Effective contractors will have already developed their teams, outlined WIN-Strategy and Ghosting themes, and be finalizing their COTS technical-solution.


The post-award notational MASS timeline schedule is shown on the following page.

MASS Notional Timeline

 

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November 17, 2014HITSS II

The run up to the HITSS II contract has been like a roller coaster ride for the bidders. On November 13, we learned that this contract is now becoming an IDIQ vehicle rather than a BPA, with NAICS code changes, plus the acquisition tracks are revised. Also, due to technical limitations, the webinar previously envisioned has been changed to an Industry Day meeting at the Department of State, location to be named. The date for the meeting is still to be scheduled . The November 13th FBO Synopsis added the following updates:

1. Revised acquisition tracks and NACIS Code to include: Track 1 for 8(a) Business (NAICS Code 54519) Track 2 for HubZone, SDVOSB and EDWOSB NAICS Code 54519 and Track 3 for Small Business (NAICS Code 517110, size standard 1500 employees.)
2. Change contract type from BPA to IDIQ.
3. Provide the qualifications for the advisory multi-step down-selection process as defined in their Attachment 1.

This long-delayed program is now picking up speed. Although Deltek’s prediction of a November release is probably too ambitious, it will likely come out soon.

Background of HITSS
The HITSS program has helped the Department of State maximize its small business contracting goals by being limited to small business primes. State has increased small business contract dollars from 34% to 38% of domestic spending between 2011 and 2014.

Released in 2006, the HITSS I program was designed for facilities in the United States (CONUS) and abroad (OCONUS) to purchase general IT services from small businesses. State is now preparing the HITSS II acquisition as a small business set-aside. So far, they have missed every schedule date posted to the Federal Business Opportunities (www.fbo.gov) website to move the program forward.

Competitive Structure of the Acquisition
Three acquisition tracks are planned as described above. A down-selection process using an Advisory Multi-Step process (evaluation criteria) will be utilized. These are:
• Small and/or Small Disadvantaged Business Status Certification
• Current GSA IT Schedule 70 contract holder and annual volume for past three years.
• Top Secret Facility and Secret Personnel
• 508 Compliance and Corporate Experience in 508 Testing
• Adequacy of Corporate financial infrastructure


Likely Release Date
• Late 2014 or early 2015
• An Industry Awareness Conference will be held at DOS facilities, but the date has not been set

Where to be before RFP Release
Identify your strengths and weakness to perform this contract. Complete researching the competitive landscape, and have firms with past performance to fill your gaps selected. Obtain a qualified capture manager to help develop your strategy and solution to the Department’s needs. Identify your internal resources that can contribute to the effort. If needed, hire consultants in advance rather than at the last minute when the experienced talent is taken.

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HITSS II Questions for Bidders1. Are you “viable”? The VA is discouraging “nonviable entities” from bidding. If your firm cannot strictly meet the small business requirements, the best strategy is to join a team or no bid. Your company must receive 51 percent of contract revenue. Make sure your small business certification will apply during the whole term of the contract.

2. Does your organization have the capacity to provide new technology needs? HITSS II will focus on current pressing needs, such as cybersecurity, mobility, and virtualization.

3. Does your organization have the ability to perform both within CONUS and OCONUS? With over 200 locations globally, can your organization provide support outside of the country? Before saying yes, do you understand the tax laws of each country and the specific insurance, health, and travel requirements that must be met? Do you have the capital up-front to perform? A larger partner already has the capability to preform OCONUS work.

4. Do you have what it takes? Past work performance is the most important factor considered in the evaluation process. What past work have you performed at State? Was the work IT service related? Having a high-performance HITSS I contractor on your team can enhance your ability to meet future requirements.

5. If you are the prime, do you have experience working an IDIQ contract? Remember, it takes more than showing you have won an IDIQ contract. You need to show that you have won task order awards through the contract. Each award can help you support your proof points, such as transition, implementation, performance, scheduled adherence, and close out.

6. Contract performance of similar scope and size. It’s highly likely your offer will receive the highest scores when the work was performed for the Department of State. In terms of dollar amounts or personnel, are your contracts comparable to the work envisioned for HITSS II?

7. Is their a real quality management system in place? Too often, responses are abstract when describing the quality management system that will be used during the performance of the work. Plan a system that provides useful insight and accountability.

 

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October 23, 2014

usa flagThe $22.3B Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) Next Generation (NG) contract will be one of the most hotly competed programs this year.  Given the high dollar value and the different award categories, the VA will likely receive well over 100 proposals.  The incumbents will be wondering which competitors have figured out an ingenious solution to provide higher value at lower cost. 

The value of having a T4 contract rose considerably when Robert McDonald took over as Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration (VA).  His immense experience as an industry “turnaround specialist” and public recognition of the deep needs at VA combine to enhance the future of this program.  

There is reason to hope that the final solicitation will be released on schedule in November 2014.  So far, program managers have been good about meeting schedule in accordance with the T4NG solicitation timeline in the original TAC APBI on June 11, 2014:  RFI in July, Industry Day in October.  Some industry observers predict a slip to December.

T4NG Industry Day

Information provided at the online Industry Day of October 6, 2014 included the following:

  • Twenty awards are anticipated
  1. 4 SDVOSB awards
  2. 4 VOSB awards (NOTE: an SDVOSB qualifies as a VOSB)
  3. 4 WOSB or HUBZone awards
  4. 8 Full and Open (8 potential large business awards)
  • Term of the contract is 5 years with a one five year option
  • Veterans’ employment is an evaluation factor
  • New flexible on-ramp and off-ramp rules and guidance will be implemented

The “Veteran’s Employment Factor” is important in the evaluation.  This factor relates to the extent to which the prime bidder has a “veteran-rich workforce.”  It will be considered as slightly less important than the Past Performance Factor which is slightly less important than the Technical Factor.  This weighs Veteran’s Employment as third for non-price factors.

The procurement strategy announced at the Industry Day leaves large business the loser.  With a maximum of only eight full and open slots, some large businesses will probably want to re-evaluate their position and consider teaming with small business.

Insight into Winning a T4NG Contract

According to G2Xchange Health industry leaders, the VA approach to source, evaluate, score and rank both large and small integrators will likely be based on the following: 

  • Ability to attract key partners for the T4NG bid – e.g.,  IT health innovators
  • Commercial Healthcare IT expertise with a focus on clinical
  • Leadership team and key hires
  • Federal Healthcare IT expertise
  • Commitment shown to hiring Veterans        
  • Breadth and depth of work at VA today
  • Commitment shown to working at VA and with Veterans
  • Experience winning and managing IDIQ contracts

Now that the spotlight is on the VA, they will want contractors with solid capabilities to avoid the risk of an embarrassment like the Affordable Care website that didn’t work.

Bidder’s progress at this time should be close to a fully executed capture strategy, with most teammates booked, including a significant number of small businesses, particularly SDVOSB’s and VOSB’s if you are either a large or small business.  Significant work on draft writing should be accomplished, particularly that related to “Win Theming” and “Executive Summary” development.

OCI helped one of the most successful contractors on the current T4 program to prepare their winning proposal.