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In January we held our first breakfast series to discuss pressing issues in the industry like rapid task order response. In March we will be offering a follow up one day course on Effectively Managing Task Order Responses.

This course offers a simple and reliable process for preparing task order proposals It offers real-life examples and take-away tools used to apply the process effectively and efficiently.

The class is led by Tim Birdsell, Task Order Proposals Shop Manager and Traci Birdsell, Proposal Manager both handpicked proposal professionals for a major defense contractor’s IDIQ Service Center.

 

Learn more about the one day course here.

 

 

I wrote an article that appeared in the OCI newsletter on last October 6th, regarding the Defense Health Information Technology Services Generation I (DHITS Generation I).  That article can be read at the following URL: http://www.ociwins.com/Industry-News/name-change-for-defense-systems-integration-design-development-operation-and-maintenance-support-dsiddoms-iv-contract.html.

In the previous article we focused on providing an overview and background to the D/SIDDOMS / DHITS program.  This program supports the Defense Health Agency’s TRICARE program.  TRICARE provides the delivery of health care services to military members worldwide.

blackhawkDHITS I Current Status

The purpose of this current article is to provide insight into how prime and subcontractor bidders can increase their chances of winning a DHITS I contract.  On February 12, 2015 the contracting office released a list of those contractors registered for the Industry Day, which was scheduled for February 17th but was cancelled due to inclement weather and will be rescheduled.  There are some 930 names registered and unfortunately for readers, if you are not already on the list, registration was closed and may remain that way when the meeting is rescheduled.

However, for anyone, registered or not, the listing provides names and companies to contact for possible subcontract position or if you plan to prime the deal, subcontractors that may have skills that your company needs to fill out the ten technology areas required by the solicitation.  The Draft RFP has been available since July of 2014 and can be used by for forward-thinking federal contractors that want to get a two-month head start on developing their proposals.  The final RFP is expected to be released on or about October 14,  2015 with the award currently scheduled for June 2016.

Bernie DiTullioBernie DiTullio has joined OCI as Vice President of Business Development.  Bernie has over 30 years experience in      business development in the Government services industry.  He previously served as a business development lead at   Hewlett Packard, Cisco, and other companies.  OCI president Russell Smith said, "We are lucky to have Bernie onboard.  He  is deep in the industry, the technology, the programs, the process, and much more.  He is a people person with gifts of personality.  And we are expecting great things from him."  Bernie is dedicated to physical fitness and goes to the gym every day, as well as playing tennis and golf.

 

 

 

stackofringDuring the past 30 years, I have frequently been asked the question, how much does it cost to prepare a proposal?

Or "What should it cost to prepare a proposal?" The desire is to have a valid standard a bidder can use to estimate the cost to prepare a proposal based on a key variable such as the dollar value of the contract being bid.

This question is a little like the question, what does it cost to build a house? The answer is that it depends on the size, style, materials, etc.

Back in the day, the generalization was often made that preparing a proposal cost 2% of the value of the contract being bid. However, solicitation requirements vary so much that this answer is dated and does not fit all situations. When we grant that it is almost impossible to quantify what proposals should cost, useful guidelines still can be offered.

Four Primary Types of Proposals

In order to address the question, let’s break proposals down into four different types that collectively account for a large portion of solicitations:

1. Low end base O&M services such as grounds, buildings, streets, uniformed guard service, utilities, trash, etc.

2. High end technical engineering services staff augmentation where the customer is buying a team of contractor personnel to provide technical support.

3. High end hardware / software driven solutions where the contractor is developing a system to perform a complex management function or to operate specialized equipment.

4. Product sales where the customer is buying a commercial off the shelf product.

businessmanThe GSA has developed a far-reaching strategy to improve the way government acquires communications and information technology infrastructure services. This initiative, known as Network Services 2020 (NS2020), envisions a sourcing program that blends telecommunications technologies and IT infrastructure, and that provides access to the latest industry capabilities. The program will span everything from advisory services, to satellite, with enough flexibility to eventually include emerging technology like mobile-to-mobile solutions.As always, accessibility to services and the lowest overall cost to the Government are paramount in the acquisition strategy. It is GSA’s goal to drastically expand the number of vendors included in the contract in addition to the incumbent contractors. The Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS) procurement will replace current local services agreements in place in four of the GSA regions, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 1, 2 and 3.

Purpose of the NIS Contract

The NS2020 program will establish three regional procurements that provide access and connectivity when current LSAs expire between 2015 and 2017. Service areas will include the Northeast Infrastructure Solutions (NIS), Central Infrastructure Solutions (CIS) and Western Infrastructure Solutions (WIS).

The NIS strategy is meant to serve as the transition service between Regional Local Service Agreements (LSA) and the Washington Integrated Telecommunications Service (WITS) 3 contract that will expire over the next three years, and the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program that is set to replace Network in 2017.

The program includes several important goals: (1) Reduce acquisition costs; (2) Diversify purchasing capabilities; (3) Improve agility and flexibility; (4) Establish an Everything over IP (EIOP) environment, and; (5) Facilitate ease of transition to the EIS program.  The GSA hopes to accomplish these goals by giving agencies a larger and more diversified pool of vendors from which to choose, and offering greater flexibility in how they manage their contracts.

The end result will empower agency customers, as well as the vendor community to propose solutions that will not require contract modifications to meet the broad and ever-changing agency needs.

Written by: Thomas Hodges

Last August I wrote an article highlighting the forthcoming Department of Energy ESPC IDIQ program: Department of Energy- Energy Saving Performance Contract (ESPC) IDIQ. In that article, I explained the unusual nature of this IDIQ, including the fact that Congressional appropriated funds are not sourced for these projects, but projects are entirely funded with private capital.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) runs the program, which consists of energy efficiency studies following by commercially financed projects to construct and install the energy saving systems identified by the studies.  The private funding firm receives its profits from the savings delivered, generally over a 25-year term with post-term residual savings reverting to the agency.

Winning an ESPC Contract

The current estimate for RFP release is now the second quarter of 2015, probably March.  However, the contracting officer will not be specific as to the release date. Energy companies planning to submit an ESPC proposal should be well into the capture phase, defining their teammates, and taking action to develop a proposal team.  

Large energy companies are likely bidders because each bidder must qualify officially on the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) website http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/financing/superespcs_doeescos.html.  Qualifications include two citations for successful energy savings efforts by the bidder.  While no number of awards has been specified, DOE has indicated there will be at least two small business set asides with a size standard of $15 million, with an exception for military contractors of $38.5 under certain federal definitions.

The ESPC Contract is the perfect IDIQ for companies with a source of capital to define and execute a program in their field of energy expertise.  Federal projects are not often open to creative industry-developed definitions and solutions, so this is a rare opportunity for the adventurous firm.  OCI has the ESPC proposal expertise to assist companies in writing strong and compliant proposals.  It is doubtful that an exceptionally well written ESPC proposal would be turned down, because the character of the solicitation suggests many awards where the bidder brings an advantage to the execution of public energy saving projects.

 

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

As this article goes to press (Jan. 29), the exact procurement schedule is not know due to lack of a recent update.  The Contracting Office previously stated that issuance of AMS qualifications and response eforms would be delayed until review of the industry inquiries were completed and all appropriate modifications to the acquisition strategy were finalized. Responses to the AMS were previously due on January 15, 2015. AMS results were expected to be released by February 15, 2015. And the Solicitation was anticipated to be released on February 28, 2015.  Those companies scoring a grade of “pass” in the AMS process will be free to submit a proposal.

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