Tuesday Insight – June 29, 2021

Jun 30, 2021

Advocacy Group Asks Biden Administration to Consider 7 Reforms for Governmentwide Contracts

A group of federal contractors want to see the governmentwide acquisition contract, or GWAC, program process improved for innovative and non-traditional vendors.

The Biden administration—like the Trump and Obama presidencies before it—is pushing agencies to use large preestablished contract vehicles like the governmentwide acquisition contract, or GWACs. But while these procurement vehicles create stability in the federal market, they are limiting competition among certain sets of innovative companies, according to a letter sent to the administration and GWAC managers Tuesday.

A white paper penned by the Alliance for Digital Innovation was sent to the White House, Office of Management and Budget and contract managers at the General Services Administration—which manages several GWACs including 8(a) STARS, Alliant and VETS—NASA—which manages the Solutions for Enterprisewide Procurement, or SEWP, GWAC—and the National Institutes of Health—which houses the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, or NITAAC, and its three GWACs: CIO-CS, CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business, with the latter contracts about to enter their fourth generation.

In the white paper, ADI’s membership—which includes big names like Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Palantir and Salesforce, among others—point to issues with how GWACs are established and competed and offer seven recommendations members claim will help innovative companies sell their solutions to agencies in need.

While GWACs were established to offer a stable set of buying options, most are working to incorporate innovative and cutting-edge technologies, including those not yet on the market. But, according to Matthew Cornelius, executive director of ADI, the vehicles aren’t properly set up for this.

“In theory, the GWACs create a large and well-defined pool of capabilities that agencies can easily buy; however, the administration of GWACs have led to these vehicles restricting key evaluation criteria for GWAC competitors, creating barriers to entry for new market entrants over the course of the contract lifecycle, and forcing innovative companies to weaken their unique attributes by forcing them into teaming arrangements or joint ventures,” the white paper states. “Because of these decisions, the GWAC universe has significantly restricted agency efforts to accelerate IT modernization, digital transformation, and rapid identification and mitigation of ever evolving cybersecurity threats.”

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