VETS2 Vehicle Offers Vested Vet Contractors
So why aren’t government agencies taking advantage of the GSA program?
This is a revised version of an earlier article.
An acquisition vehicle sponsored by the General Services Administration (GSA) provides a repository of veteran-owned businesses that have been categorized as part of a best-in-class vehicle. Yet, despite having this ready-made group vetted for rapid contracting, few government agencies are tapping what on the surface should be an easy choice to meet best value needs efficiently.
The Veterans Technology Services 2 Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), known as VETS2, comprises 70 service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses providing enhanced capabilities and corporate performance. Nearly 70 percent of these firms have International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certification. Awarded on October 2017, the VETS2 contract cleared its protests in April 2018.
VETS2 is one of about 25 best-in-class contracting vehicles, notes Maria Horton, marketing chair for the VETS2 Industry Partners (V2IP) group. Her organization represents the 70 awardees for VETS2, and it aims to generate awareness of what VETS2 has to offer.
“Best in class” is a new nomenclature emerging from the Office of Management and Budget, Horton explains. Many of these contracting vehicles are indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) vehicles featuring larger firms. Category management, which also is part of VETS2, will help government save billions of dollars and avoid duplicative or stand-alone contracts, she continues. It creates a marketplace with competition but lacking redundancy.
“It is kind of a change in the way we look at our IDIQ vehicles,” she says.
“VETS2 is a pre-competed, competitively priced, best-in-class vehicle that allows [government] to be able to award almost any size contract over the base five-year performance period, that has limited protest capabilities, that [gives officials] the ability to design and fund it and utilize it while streamlining procurement,” Horton declares. “Many times we hear today that the acquisition department of federal agencies is undermanned and overworked. Why would you go out and compete a separate contract vehicle when, in less than an hour, you can gain procurement authority from GSA, issue a task order, get a contract response in a very short turnaround time—some in 30 or even 10 days—and you have the ability to move that forward and get your award up and running?”
VETS2 offers agencies the ability to reach service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, Horton relates, adding that many provide enterprise technology services.
“These are companies that have earned corporate credentials that are able to deliver enterprise technology solutions. And, VETS2 is all about veteran-owned companies working with other veteran-owned and other businesses, large and small, to deliver the solution,” Horton states. “It’s kind of an on-ramp for veterans into a larger federal marketplace.”
The new vehicle's industrial funding fee is .075 percent and it is paid by the VETS2 offeror. It also enables short procurement lead time and provides pre-competed and pre-negotiated approved rates It guarantees no risk of protest on awards at or under $10 million except on the grounds that the order increases the scope, period of performance or maximum value of the GWAC. It can be used with firm-fixed-price, time and materials and labor hour contracts.
But for all the advantages Horton says that VETS2 offers, government agencies still are not rushing to take advantage of it. She points out that it takes a while for a government purchase official to shift direction and adopt a new contracting vehicle. Going to category management or a measured metric approach can disrupt established relationships and generate hesitancy about acquiring new capabilities and solutions.
Many of the companies in VETS2 may not be well known to agency officials, who would need to research these new contractors. Horton states that the 70 VETS2 companies are working together to answer potential questions.
She also notes that if everyone moves to best in class GWACs, many previously successful companies may not have that type of contract vehicle. They risk consolidation or forced departure from the market.
Horton says the first task order for VETS2 went out in March. Companies are expecting more task orders during the June-September spend season. Success stories and case studies should help promote VETS2 activity, she adds.
The V2IP organization is seeking out government agencies that are missing their goals for contracting with service-disabled, veteran-owned goals and their women-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned goals. It also is looking for defense agencies that can be comfortable going to companies run by former military personnel.