The proposal and evaluation approach being used by the General Services Administration for the second iteration of the VETS GWAC already poses interesting challenges and considerations for companies interested in pursuing this multi-year contract vehicle. Just when you thought the past performance ‘bar’ might have excluded a number of companies vying for this opportunity, GSA has dished out a surprise at RFP release, with one heck of a twist!
– Guy Timberlake, The Chief Visionary
Let’s start this way. If you are one of the many Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses that met the past performance requirement for the GSA Veterans Technology Services (VETS) 2 GWAC prior to the release of the RFP, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach and position because things have changed, considerably.
You’ll see this when you visit Section L.5.1.3 where you’ll find language that now permits teaming. This is something that was not a factor when GSA was accepting offers for the OASIS contract vehicle, and is a result of pressure (and specific language!) doled out by Congress. This means companies excluded or on-the-bubble previously, have a way in, which changes the competitive field a bit. How much it changes remains to be seen.
Think of it this way, the evaluation process for VETS2 is based on a score your company accumulates for a variety of accomplishments and attributes. The objective for vendors is to achieve and maintain a score that will keep them at or above the 70th spot. The company right behind you in points is literally going to get eaten by a bear named ‘No VETS2 for you!‘ which means they get to sit out this 10-year ride. By the way, if you have company at spot 70, that’s okay because GSA says a tie results in awards for everyone (with a tie score).
By the way, the past performance points are now easier to achieve. GSA dropped the number of projects from 5 down to 3. That’s another game-changer for the previous competitive field. Many more companies can reach that bar.
A post-award ‘bear’ would be the $500,000 minimum contract sales requirement during the base period of the contract. Not meeting it means no option period. Game over. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we need to get positioned to win this first!
So again, GSA has made it possible for companies to team on VETS2 which changes the field. If you were venturing into this on your own and considered your company ‘safe’ or ‘likely’ based on your estimated number of points, companies behind you, potentially outside of the 70 spots GSA intends to make awards to, teaming could now place them ahead of you, knocking you out of the range. So what’s your strategy now?
Now for a twist on the teaming inclusion.
While teaming can help you get past performance points, GSA added a ‘risk assessment’ score as well. Companies who can successfully respond to Section L.5.5 – Risk Assessment can net an additional 10,000 points. How? You’ll receive 5,000 points for having previously performed in the teaming arrangement being proposed, and 5,000 if half of the projects submitted under ‘Relevant Experience’ were performed by you or SDVOSB teaming partners/subcontractors being proposed. This could make for some interesting maneuvering by a number of companies.
While teaming and the risk assessment for teaming are definitely X-factors, there is still another, possibly even more pressing than these. Knowing your company’s score is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t know the scores of your competition and even your partners. Understanding the score of the competition means you can establish rankings, and where you stand. Understanding the score of potential partners means you can determine how much they can help you better your ranking. Do you know the estimated scores of all of the likely bidders for VETS2?
We do, and that knowledge is what’s needed for any company to have the proper context and insights to say they are a ‘safe’ or ‘likely’ bidder. Anything other than that really is just guessing.
The beauty of GSA’s approach to evaluating offerors is that it absolutely plays into the hands and skill-set of ‘Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™‘ the open source competitive intelligence training we started years ago and still teach today as the Competitive Intelligence Bootcamp for Government Contractors™.
With that, my friend and colleague, Brian Friel of One Nation Analytics has developed a report and analysis based on having scored and ranked likely bidders for the GSA VETS 2 GWAC and it can be used to provide an empirical assessment of a company’s chances of success. The analysis will also provide information on ways to maximize scores and from the list of ranked likely bidders, show you most viable partners to consider if help is needed with a score.
Brian and discuss the current state of VETS2 during a newly recorded GovConChat podcast and will do it again from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM on April 29th in Chevy Chase, MD at a session hosted by The Competitive Intelligence Community. We’ll also host a webinar on Wednesday, April 27th at 11:00 AM, so stay tuned to this post and @theasbcguy and @DCBFriel on Twitter for details.
For the record, Brian is a recent addition to The CI Community, accepting a role as a senior advisor for programs to include a soon to launch fellowship for up and coming ‘ethical stalkers’ in government contracting.
In the meantime, for those companies taking a hard look at VETS2, here’s something to consider. GSA has fundamentally changed how they will evaluate and select successful offerors. Hopefully your pursuit has taken into consideration these changes.
If your company is bidding VETS2 and you don’t know your ranking or that of the competition, how are you determining win probability?
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”