With summer on the not so distant horizon, 2017 marks the halfway point for this 10 year $20B GWAC. Some of the more interesting discussions the G2Xchange team had at HIMSS and the week since revolve around the impending re-certification and the challenge that NITAAC faces.
When former NITAAC Director, Rob Coen switched sides last fall to join longtime nemesis, GSA, a cloud formed over this acquisition shop. Coen not only provided NITAAC with a keen business acumen and understanding of his customer, both government and industry, but also the ability and willingness to make things happen. The timing could not have been much worse for NITAAC and CIO-SP3 SB contract holders as several critical decisions will be made in 2017 that impact the future of this contract and the firms who have been instrumental in much of this group’s success to date.
NITAAC is a fee-for-service organization and the CIO-SP3 SB governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) is one of three primary GWACs this group manages. The more successful the contractor community is in marketing and driving business to CIO-SP3 SB, the more successful NITAAC is.
The first 5 years of CIO-SP3 SB has seen a number of small businesses (SB) step up and drive results for this contract and herein lies the problem as every single one of the most highly successful CIO-SP3 SB primes will be asked to recertify their small business size status this summer. These prime contract holders will remain on the vehicle, but, naturally, few will still qualify as a small business, which means they will no longer be able to compete for tasks marked as small business set-aside of any type on CIO-SP3 SB.
The challenge NITAAC faces is how do you support the companies who made you successful and, if they can’t or won’t, what are the impacts to the NITAAC book of business and the contractor community moving forward.
Farfetched or not, some potential options for NITAAC include:
Don’t ask the CIO-SP3 SB primes to recertify – Contracts can be broken, but the recertification is understood to be written into the contract, so this does not appear to be an easy option. If they did choose to skip it or even delay this, the remaining small businesses will be the first to complain loudly as they are certainly tired of competing (and often losing) with this group. We don’t see this as a real option.
Graduate the CIO-SP3 SB Primes to CIO-SP3 unrestricted – This sounds like a logical solution as CIO-SP3 SB primes would continue to have the option of driving work to NITAAC. NITAAC wins, contractor community wins. Not so fast says the CIO-SP3 UR contract holders. These are two separate GWACs and this group of highly influential large businesses will have zero interest in having 30+ additional competitors. This is considered a real option by many SP3 SB primes, but we don’t know that it can happen even if NITAAC wanted it to.
Collapse the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 SB vehicles into one – This was a suggestion brought to our attention by one knowledgeable and senior CIO-SP3 SB prime exec. Interesting idea and sounds simple enough in principal, but we suspect it is not that easy and the aforementioned large primes are unlikely to be happy with this result.
Compete Unrestricted tasks under this SB vehicle – In this case, the now large SP3 SB primes would stay on this contract and NITAAC could release tasks as unrestricted competition should the agency procuring the services choose to do so. This would allow these primes to continue to drive work to this vehicle and limit the competitive field by blocking out many of the much larger players. A primary challenge for NITAAC is that, with the CIO-SP3 SB onramp evaluation and award process underway, a fresh set of small business mouths are waiting to be fed – any activiity on this vehicle that does not support small business risks bad press and blowback
Do nothing – The CIO-SP3 SB primes who no longer qualify as a SB graduate to large. This group is no longer eligible to bid on tasks released on this vehicle. They are, for all intents and purposes, off the contract. This is a big concern for large CIO-SP3 SB contract holders as inertia kicks in and no move is made by NITAAC to remedy the situation. This is, and should be, a very big concern for NITAAC as this will have both a short term and long term impact on their bottom line. The firms that won the most didn’t win by happenstance – they won because they are savvy and they understand how the game is played. Contracts tend to have feet when the customer doesn’t see a way to get to who they want and we are certain that competitors such as GSA, with their new Health IT SIN or even the CMS OAGM and VA TAC, would be willing to entertain conversation about taking on new business. Is NITAAC counting on the new group of primes to be just as good at driving business to NITAAC as the last group? That is at best a maybe and a big bet that we would not take.
What recommendations do you have for NITAAC? How would you deal with quandary? Should they care at all? Comment below.