Summer OASIS – Big Opportunity for Small Businesses
The General Services Administration (“GSA”) recently issued two final requests for proposals (“RFP”) for the highly-anticipated One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (“OASIS”) contract vehicle which could be worth up to $60 billion over 10 years according to Deltek. One RFP is an unrestricted contract which includes a small business subcontracting goal of 50%, while the second RFP is 100% small business set-aside. The core focus of the contract will include six disciplines: program management, management consulting, logistic, engineering, scientific, and financial services. As noted by the GSA, the contract vehicle aims to provide a total solution for agencies’ requirements while “maximizing opportunities for small businesses.”
While proposals are due September 17th, small businesses not currently leading or joining a team will not have to “scramble” to do so by the deadline. OASIS program manager Jim Ghiloni has reassured vendors that “This program is not going to lock down in 10 years. There will be fluidity in the contractor pool over time. And if you’re not qualified when the [RFP] comes out, it doesn’t mean you’re locked out for 10 years.” As contract vehicles and agency requirements roll under OASIS over the next several years, those contractors qualified as small businesses (and properly registered in the System for Award Management) will have the opportunity to capture a significant portion of professional services-related procurements.
Importantly, small businesses are given the opportunity to graduate within the OASIS program to the full and open contract once they outgrow small business size standards. In discussing the OASIS vehicle, Eric Knellinger, President of U.S. Federal Contractor Registration, noted that “We want to make sure small businesses not only survive, but thrive in government contracting.” While graduation to the unrestricted contract must be on the basis of organic growth and not through a merger or acquisition, the OASIS vertical contract on-ramping provision provides a path to full and open work for small business contractors, which is important for small business owners to consider when thinking about an eventual exit given acquirers determine value based on the ability to retain / novate contracts upon a change of control.
Of course, within the first two weeks of releasing the OASIS RFPs the contract has already received two pre-award protests, with others to potentially follow. While not all of the details of the protests have been made available, some of the issues have centered on the unrestricted pass/fail requirements in the RFP which some believe conflict with federal policy that lets vendors team up and thus “tips the evaluation scale toward larger competitors at the expense of smaller ones.” A decision by the Government Accountability Office on the protests is not expected until November 18th; however, the GSA can still receive proposals and begin evaluations in the interim, but cannot make award decisions until protests are resolved.