The Department of Homeland Security anticipates releasing the RFP for its PACTS II multiple award IDIQ vehicle in early June. PACTS II (Program Management, Administrative, Clerical, and Technical Services) is a 5-year (2-year base period and three 1-year option periods) set-aside for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses. Awards will be made in two Functional Categories: FC1 – Program Management and Technical Services (NAICS Code 541611/size standard $14M); and FC2 – Administrative and Operations Services (NAICS Code 541610/size standard $7M).
FC1 includes these main service areas: Program Management Services (many different services); Process, Physical Distribution, and Logistics Consulting Services; and Technical Services (including both Engineering Services and Environmental, Technical & Other Scientific Consulting Services). FC2 includes Administrative and Operations Services; and Court Reporting and Stenotype Services. FC1, obviously, will be the most lucrative functional category, and within FC1, Program Management Services are of preeminent importance. Expect highest value task orders to be procured, however, that combine Program Management with Technical Services.
PACTS II succeeds the $1.5B PACTS I contract, and is expected to be of a similar contract value. PACTS I was a hotly contested procurement: 600 bidders sought awards in four Functional Categories (that were roughly collapsed into the two FCs under PACTS II), and only 34 contracts were awarded. The Government has not indicated its intent regarding the total number of awards it expects to make. Major documents already released include a Draft RFP (issued March 21, 2014) and responses to industry questions (issued April 30, 2014). An Industry Day was held on April 15, and another useful document to possess is the Industry Day Presentation. The FedBizOpps Webpage for PACTS II—where all of these documents and others can be found is: https://www.fbo.gov/indexs=opportunity&mode=form&id=58e3445248cc301cf7f5c1276609d2ae&tab=core&_cview=1
Expectations for bidders appear higher for PACTS II than PACTS I: The functional categories extend across many more disciplines, allowing Government customers to solicit larger, more complex, multi-disciplinary task order contracts. Bidding teams expectedly will be larger and more diversified than those contract awardees currently serving on PACTS I, in order to cover the broader range of services and potentially larger procurements. Also, expect certain procurements to mandate coverage across several geographic locations. Therefore, assemble your larger, geographically dispersed, and multi-disciplinary team now!
In addition, the draft RFP places greater emphasis (than the PACTS I RFP) on the Prime Contractor’s personal possession of deeper experience and significant in-house personnel resources. While PACTS I seems to balance an intent to energize and support the SDVOSB sector with serving Government customers optimally, PACTS II seems more like other recent large IDIQ procurements that tip the balance much much more in favor of the customer. In the previous contract, many contractors adopted a strategy of recruiting the talent for the tasks as the task orders materialized. This led to a lot of unsatisfactory performance. The Government aim in the PACTS II program is to select contractors who can perform because they have a depth of ready talent onboard. PACTS II wants to bring Prime Contractors to the Program that have already proven themselves to be high performers. Also important: a strong PACTS II Program Manager candidate, as this is further assurance that Prime Contractor awardees will be able to do a good job in a challenging environment. If you have one of those in-house, terrific; if not, start looking for one in earnest immediately.
In conclusion, bidders will not be able to rely heavily on the experiences or resources of their teaming partners to bolster the Government’s evaluation in these areas. Therefore, before committing yourself to seeking award as a PACTS II Prime Contractor, make certain that you have the experience/past performance and personnel “bench strength” to make a strong argument for yourself!
If you decide to subcontract, you can subcontract with several Prime Contractors within one or both Functional Categories; and you can be a business of any size classification. You cannot, however, be both a Prime Contractor and a Subcontractor within the same Functional Category.
One major change in PACTS II regarding teaming: As with EAGLE II, Prime Contractors are permitted to bring additional subcontractors to their teams after award. Of course, you will only be evaluated on the team you identify in your proposal (accompanied by the necessary teaming agreement documentation), so promises of additional team members you could have or expect to have through your business relationships count for nothing.
Proposal Support Needs
The PACTS II proposal response is not lengthy—likely under 50 pages (21 pages max are consumed by Project Experience Summaries); but does have data sheets and forms to complete that requisition business/financial information, and copies of teaming documents to be provided. Key proposal sections, such as your program management approach (max. 3 pages/7 pages counting the narrative summary and Program Manager’s résumé), are surprisingly short; although these could expand with bidder questions and recommendations following release of the final RFP. In addition, the directives for what to include—contained in the Section L instructions to offerors and Section M evaluation factors—are sparse. For this reason, your proposal manager and proposal writers should be strong and insightful professionals who understand what is expected and desired by the Government in an IDIQ proposal submission. These people need to be able to read between the lines of the solicitation. They will need to apply good experience in IDIQ responses to determining the best information and discriminators to squeeze into the limited real estate they have in which to work. In conclusion, the well-resourced proposal team will include a (1) Proposal Manager (experienced in IDIQ proposals), and preferably one who can also write, as just management of the process is not a full-time job; and (2) Technical Writer (preferably experienced in IDIQ proposal writing), skilled in writing management approach documentation and maximizing the quality of newly created or boilerplate project experience/past performance summaries. A Proposal Coordinator—to solicit, validate for completeness, and organize the finished forms and business documents—would also be a valuable addition to your team. Run-of-the-mill personnel will not be able to prepare a winning proposal. Because of the unique challenges of this competition, strong proposal personnel are needed to win. Required input from your teaming partners is a completed Project Experience Summary or two, and the usual corporate history/qualifications/business info material; so if you are a Prime Contractor offeror, the majority of the proposal development work falls on you.