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For 8(a) IT buys, agencies reach for the STARS often, open market standalone contracts even more.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake (
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I've written a few pieces on this subject previously. Because of that, some of the companies awarded the GSA STARS II GWAC will most likely think I'm just pouring salt in their wounds by writing this piece. After all, GSA STARS II has been matching the pace of obligated dollars set by its predecessor, right? The difference? A much larger cast of players which means more competition and fewer dollars to go around in the long run.

The truth is, I hope small federal contractors with spots on this and other established contract vehicles like Alliant, Alliant SB, VETS GWAC and GSA Schedules, will take this as an opportunity to expand their pursuit of opportunities by understanding and tracking opportunities not being awarded to indefinite delivery contracts (IDCs).

This starts by facing the reality that agencies are apparently not as in love with this version of STARS. I mean if they were, obligations made to 8(a) companies via stand-alone contracts would not total more than obligations made to STARS II. But they do.

Stand-alone contracts, referenced as definitive contracts and purchase orders, are award instruments that are not delivery order/task orders issued to an existing vehicle like, STARS II. Also, they were likely not as easy to execute as orders placed against STARS II.

How much has been awarded? According to the GSA GWAC Dashboards, STARS II saw $617M in FY13 task orders and $14M FY14 YTD. A visit to FPDS-NG shows $613M in stand-alone contract awards in FY13 that were 8(a) sole source, and an additional $313M that were 8(a) competitive. For FY14, $14M 8(a) sole source and another $8M in 8(a) competitive awards to definitive contracts and purchase orders. That's $300M more to stand-alone contracts in FY13 and $8M more FY14 YTD.

The comparison is based on a search of open market, standalone contracts made to 8(a) companies when the following NAICS Codes were referenced:

  • 541511 - Custom Computer Programming Services
  • 541512 - Computer Systems Design Services
  • 541513 - Computer Facilities Management Services
  • 541519 - Other Computer Related Services

If you don't know, these are the NAICS Codes that represent the functional areas on GSA STARS II.

Want a peek at the top agencies making the awards? The below list is based on the same criteria as above:

Top Departments GSA STARS II FY13
(Based On YTD Obligations)

Top Departments Stand-Alone Contracts FY13
(Based On YTD Obligations)

Department of Defense
Department of Defense
Department of State
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of the Army
Department of Treasury
Department of Agriculture
Department of State
Department of Homeland Security
General Services Administration

NOTE: I reference 'YTD Obligations' versus 'Total Obligations' because FY13 numbers are still being calculated (for DoD in particular).

For the record, this is not unique to GSA Stars II. If you look at total FY13 and FY14 obligations for all GSA GWACs (STARS, STARS II, Alliant, Alliant SB and VETS GWAC) the dollar amount is $3.8B. If you review definitive contract and purchase order obligations for the same period based on the six NAICS Codes referenced across all of these GWACs, you end up with $5.1B in obligations.

Why does this matter? A different award type will change the procurement process agencies use and this in turn can change the individual or even the organization executing that buy. Now you see it, now you don't.

Want to know more? Check out No Contract Vehicles Needed™ and expand your view of the landscape and opportunities.


The Chief Visionary

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