Sometime in June, $65 billion in federal IT business will be up for grabs under the Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition contracts. The requests for proposals from the General Services Administration will likely grab the attention of nearly all the major IT contractors looking to boost profits amid a contracting environment ripe with consolidation and budget tightening.
The Alliant 2 Unrestricted, with a ceiling of $50 billion over 10 years, and Alliant 2 Small Business, with its $15 billion ceiling, represent the largest IT contract of the year and perhaps of the next decade. And its objective methodology for selecting winners is likely to make it also among the most competitive.
Building on the approach GSA used in 2013’s One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services contracts, companies will self-score relevant experience and various certifications in a points-based system set by GSA. (Brian Friel, founder of One Nation Analytics, published a thorough write-up on this process in Nextgov in March).
In short, the 60 large companies with the highest point total would win a spot on the Alliant 2 Unrestricted contract. The 80 top small business scorers would get spots on Alliant 2 Small Business.
The end result is an RFP that stresses past performance, which bodes well for established defense and IT contractors, according to Arun Sankaran, managing director at Govini, a business intelligence firm. (Govini and Government Executive Media Group have a data sharing partnership, and earlier this month released the 2016 Federal Scorecard, an annual ranking of government contractors based on more than 6,000 data points.)
“The big takeaway is that a huge chunk of Alliant 2 – 40 percent of the evaluation – will be based on past performance,” Sankaran said.
Govini’s recent analysis of the GWAC titled “A Big Data Approach to Alliant 2” details where opportunities exist – and where competition will be the toughest – among contractors via the product service codes that dictate which kinds of IT and other services have been purchased historically under RFPs. Different PSC codes refer to different kinds of work, and cataloging contractor performance this way offers many insights.
“Competition will be fierce for the 60 available spots on full and open Alliant 2, but a big data view of the competitive landscape highlights which vendors have strengths in each PSC code group,” the report states.
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HP, for example, is the second largest vendor by monetary capture across all PSC codes in the federal government, but the company has its most success competing for “IT services,” where 95 percent of its work comes from. Past performance is so key to Alliant 2 that contractors can build a self-evaluation strategy to “exploit PSC code selection with less competition,” the report states.
Alliant 2 is the successor to the original Alliant contract, through which federal agencies have spent more than $20 billion. As the Govini report notes, Alliant’s success helped transition some small business awardees to large businesses.
Companies like Digital Management Inc., Phacil and ActioNet have generated hundreds of millions of dollars and will “graduate to full and open” competition under Alliant 2. Those graduations coupled with industry consolidations may leave the door open for new small businesses to get their feet in Alliant 2’s door, Sankaran said.
“I think GSA is going to have to look for new faces, and it’s getting harder to find them,” Sankaran said. “A lot of acquisition has been happening in this space in the past year, and the pool to cull them from may be smaller. You may see names pop up on Alliant 2 (Small Business) that you haven’t seen before.”