The General Services Administration is months away from releasing the first details of its newest contract vehicle — one that offers solutions for complex professional services across disciplines.
OASIS — short for One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services — will provide a “streamlined acquisition” vehicle, said Jim Ghiloni, the program manager for OASIS, in an interview with Off the Shelf with Roger Waldron.
Ghiloni said details of the project — such as what defines professional services and the scope of the contract — are still under discussion and will be revealed in the draft request for proposal, expected to be posted by the end of this summer.The specifics of the offerings will fall within four broad areas:
Management and consulting
IT could be considered a fifth area, in terms of a “support component,” Ghiloni said.
“What we’ve found with professional services is there’s often an IT component that is integral and necessary in the successful deployment of a solution, even though the requirement in and of itself is not IT,” he said.
The challenge now with defining the professional services is to be both inclusive and definitive, Ghiloni said.
“If you start listing particular subsets, then people ask about the ones you didn’t list,” he said. GSA is looking to existing categories, such as the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and the Defense Departmet’s taxonomy of services, to help in defining its offerings.
The contract ceiling will likely be $60 billion over a decade, but GSA is building flexibility into the contract to account for rising demand or, on the other hand, “If the budget really does crash, then we can readjust our expectations,” he said.
It’s unclear now how many awards will be on the contract, Ghiloni said.
“We’re looking at just those most complex requirements, the ones that are going to be challenging and requirements with a wide array of tools and experience on the part of industry, so I don’t expect there to be hundreds and hundreds [of companies] out there that would quality for that,” he said.
Ghiloni said he anticipates GSA will release the final RFP at the end of this calendar year and complete initial evaluations by the summer of 2013. Taking into account bid protests — “simply due to the environment we live in” — Ghiloni said he projects GSA to issue a notice to proceed around the beginning of fiscal year 2014.
Agencies turning to professional services
GSA started developing OASIS because agencies have increasingly turned to professional services over the last decade.
But the ability to do very large, enterprise contracts to support all kinds of professional services was missing in agencies’ acquisition “toolkit,” said Steve Kempf, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, in a March interview with Federal News Radio.
Because of this gap, agencies currently use full and open competition or “mix and match” a variety of existing contract vehicles, Ghiloni said.
OASIS will allow agencies to select contractors within weeks compared to what would have taken a year, Ghiloni said.
The current gap in the “toolkit” is reflected in the contract’s name change a few months ago from Integrations to OASIS.
“If you think about that desert of opportunity, OASIS then is the one place you want to go to get relief from those struggles. We thought it had some evocative imagery, in addition to having a fun acronym, which of course in government, we love our acronyms,” Ghiloni said.
One scenario where an agency might take advantage of OASIS is during a natural disaster. To set up a communications office, the agency would need wide-ranging solutions — from technology that interacts with existing parts fo the agency to subject matter experts to engineers, Ghiloni said. In this situation, it would be impossible for an agency to know the extent of the contracted work at the start.
“One of the hallmarks [of OASIS] is to maximize the flexibility of the ordering contracting officer at the task level … to customize their requirements,” Ghiloni said.
For example, the master contract will have standardized labor categories, but an agency can include a specific category at the task order level, he said.
Also, an agency can also “team as they see fit” between prime and subcontractors without interference from the master contract, Ghiloni said.
GSA is seeking input from industry as it prepares to release the draft RFP. The agency has posted questions for industry at Interact.GSA.gov. Businesses can submit a white paper in response to the questions and will receive a chance to meet one-on-one with GSA.
“It’s not a marketing opportunity. It’s an opportunity to talk specifically about the direction of the OASIS program,” Ghiloni said.
GSA has received at least 10 white papers and will continue to collect information from companies over the next month, he said. Ghiloni added that the information shared in these meetings will be off the record and non-attributable.
Throughout the process, GSA is also meeting with a customer working group made up of various agencies, including Commerce, Veterans Affairs, Defense and Energy.
“To date, they’re very pleased with the direction we’re going. I hear frequently, ‘If this were available now, we would be using it extensively,” Ghiloni said.