Engine for Growth – Winning STARS III

  |  June 25, 2020

Brian McCollough —

With the PreSolicitation notice released and the final RFP coming in two weeks, there is no time to waste.  This is written to help bidders win a STARS III contract. It is time for serious 8(a) bidders to start work in earnest. And for interested large businesses to find a good team to join.

The STARS III GWAC focuses on IT services and solutions. The prime contract is reserved for 8(a) companies. The primary NAICS code for is 541512 — Computer Systems Design Services.

8(a) STARS III Background:

Of note, more than 785 master contracts were awarded under STARS II. This week, GSA has increased STARS III ceiling from $20 billion to $50 billion. STARS III allows an 8(a) firm that has graduated to continue to be awarded contracts, for the duration of the program.

The functional areas (FAs) for award of multiple STARS III Master Contracts are:

  • FA1: Custom Computer Programming Services (NAICS 541511)
  • FA2: Computer Systems Design Services (NAICS 541512)
  • FA3: Computer Facilities Management Services (NAICS 541513)
  • FA4: Other Computer Related Services (NAICS 541519)
  • FA5: Data Processing, Hosting, And Related Services (NAICS 518210)
  • FA6: Emerging Technology-focused IT Services (NAICS 541512)

Multiple awards will be made in each of the functional areas, at an anticipated $10 million ceiling each.

How Do I Win STARS III:

Primes may subcontract, without limitations. Offerors may choose to offer under one or more FAs. In no event will an offeror be considered for a FA for which it did not specifically submit an offer.

In order to be eligible for award:

  • Conform to the RFP requirements
  • Be technically acceptable – must be eligible for award on all evaluation criteria
  • Offer a fair and reasonable price

Evaluation criteria:

  • Compliance with the RFP requirements – offer unconditionally agrees to the terms and conditions of this RFP without exception.
  • Experience – submit at least one, but no more than three, relevant experience projects.

NOTE: Compliance requirements for Experience require on-going or task completion within the last 2 years and strict limitations on use of project profiles – experienced project pin-point writers needed.

  • Past Performance – provide thorough, organized and complete past performance information. Demonstrate past performance with a satisfactory or better rating – commercial and federal past performance considered equally. The Offeror shall submit at least one, and no more than five, past performance assessment(s).

NOTE: To win, your Past Performance writeup must address the requirements in as much granular detail as possible.  Bidders planning to win should undertake this task only with seasoned proposal writers who have experience preparing sections that will score high.

  • Price Evaluation – propose 13 years of Government-Site and 13 years of Contractor-Site pricing.

NOTE: Compliance requirements for Pricing are very complex, and require intense strategic analyses to mitigate cost risk to the bidder.

  • Responsibility – determinations shall be conducted consistent with the FAR.

What Do I Need to Do NOW:

Experience has shown that STARS III is not a contract you can win while waiting for the final RFP to start writing. If you intend to bid, several actions need to begin in the near-term to be ready to win when the final solicitation is released.

  • Conduct a “Proposal Readiness Review (PRR)”— A PRR can be done in a few days and can tell you if you are qualified to bid. It will also show you what holes you need to fill. Using a third-party to perform the review can provide you with an unbiased view as to where you stand and in terms of point score. The PRR should inform you whether a bid is worth your precious B&P resources. A minimum deliverable from the PRR should be a project plan providing a clear path for being ready to win when the final RFP is released.

NOTE: Personnel without previous experience can not prepare a satisfactory PRR.

  • Review your candidate experience projects— consider looking at all your project efforts completed within the last two years or in progress, and then do an in-depth review of each. They need to (1) have a focus in one, or more, of the 8(a) STARS III functional areas. They must have (2) at least “Very Good” CPARs and should have (3) a value of at least $1M. Meeting these three criteria won’t guarantee a win; but not meeting them makes the path to an award much more arduous, considering the competition.
  • Start gathering your documentation— STARS requires that you submit up to 100 or more documents. These items may include various ISO-certifications and CMMI accreditations as well as annual reports, line of credit letters, etc. NOTE:  This requires person weeks of effort.

Conclusion:  

A plus up of this program for bidders is that, you DO NOT have to perform a lengthy business development workup to win.  If you have experience that conclusively addresses the requirements, this is enough. However, vendors who would have to bend and stretch their quals into a pretzel to bid should look elsewhere.

Preparing now for the final STARS RFP release will pay dividends going forward. Using an activity such as a Proposal Readiness Review (PRR) will let you know where you stand, will better inform your bid decision, and will help you identify the hurdles you must jump to win.

Errata:

GovWin Opportunity ID:   172214

Beta.SAM.Gov Notice ID: 47QTCH19N0001

 

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