AlphaBrook Attends Navy Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Event
Last week, AlphaBrook team members attended Navy’s annual Gold Coast event. The week of presentations and networking is designed to connect small businesses with Navy executives and inform interested vendors about developments in the agency relevant to procurement.
There were a great many vehicle updates shared, as well as other information relevant to Navy acquisition. Leveraging our Voice-of-Government® methodology, we transcribed the key updates from government officials, including individuals representing GSA, Navy, NITAAC, and MDA, and compiled this information to share. We at AlphaBrook are proud of being the industry leader in providing qualitative intelligence, with exact quotes and sources cited, to help our clients make better bid decisions and increase their p-win on contract pursuits.
Highlighted Government Quotes:
NAVWAR Commander RADM Christian Becker explained, “SPAWAR will now be referred to as NAVWAR – Naval Information Warfare Center.”
NITAAC Director Bridget Gauer shared, “For the [CIO-SP3] ramp on – we’re still doing it. We just awarded for HUBZone, we awarded for SDVOSB, and we awarded a bunch of 8(a)s. If you’re in the small business pool, you’re still not out of it. We’re still doing the ramp on.”
NITAAC Director Bridget Gauer informed, “We plan to have it [CIO-SP4] in place by 2022,” continuing to say, “You will start hearing next year about [CIO-]SP4, the recompete. You will want to watch FBO,” continuing, “We already have 137 labor categories negotiated [for the recompete],” similar to that of CIO-SP3, which has “137 labor categories predetermined” and “10 task areas, it covers basically everything IT.”
Director of NAVSEA Undersea Systems Contracts Division and SeaPort Program Manager Susan Tomaiko explained, “So, 2 January  was the very first day that anyone could issue an RFP in [Seaport] NxG. Since January, not only have task orders been awarded, but 11 of those task orders were awarded to small businesses; 10 of them were set-aside” specifically for small business competition. She continued, “Navy has awarded contracts worth $175M to small business since just January; it’s pretty impressive. Currently, right now, there are 42 small business set-aside RFPs out on the street waiting to be awarded. Things are moving very fast. Of the 42 RFPs, six of them are 8(a) set-asides, two are SDVOSB set-asides, four are WOSB set-asides, and then 30 [total] small business set-asides. So, exciting, exciting stuff!”
Director of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs Jimmy Smith told the group, “When the COR or CO says the prime isn’t adhering to their subcontracting plan, moving forward they will get a lower CPARS rating.”
Director of MDA Office of Small Business Programs Lee Rosenberg stated, “We spent $1.5B that went to [small businesses] subcontracting last year [FY2018] to large business primes.”
Director of MDA Office of Small Business Programs Lee Rosenberg explained, “If you are interested in TEAMS Next, by all means track that RFI. By the end of the summer we will have an acquisition strategy in place.”
Detailed Vehicle and Other Information:
CIO-SP3 / CIO-SP4 Vehicles
NITAAC Director Bridget Gauer shared information regarding the current CIO-SP3 vehicle status and plans for the upcoming CIO-SP4 vehicle competition. Ms. Gauer told the group, “For the [CIO-SP3] ramp on – we’re still doing it. We just awarded for HUBZone, we awarded for SDVOSB, and we awarded a bunch of 8(a)s. If you’re in the small business pool, you’re still not out of it. We’re still doing the ramp on.” Regarding the longevity of the CIO-SP3 vehicle, she explained, “The period of performance for [CIO-]SP3 is through 2027 – task orders can run through 2027 – it has a 15 year period of performance. CIO-SP3 itself expires in 2022 [to compete task orders through.]” To give an idea of the scale of interest in on-ramping to CIO-SP3 vehicle, Ms. Gauer told the group, “The [CIO-SP3] ramp on started in 2016 and we received over 500 proposals.”
In discussing the plans for CIO-SP4, Ms. Gauer stated, “We plan to have it [CIO-SP4] in place by 2022,”continuing to say, “You will start hearing next year about [CIO-]SP4, the recompete. You will want to watch FBO,” as “we’re still in the planning stage.” Of CIO-SP4, Ms. Gauer additionally stated, “We already have 137 labor categories negotiated [for the recompete],” similar to that of CIO-SP3, which has “137 labor categories predetermined” and “10 task areas, it covers basically everything IT.” If your team is considering pursuing this CIO-SP4 vehicle, Ms. Gauer said, “You would have to have past performance substantial enough to handle a $20B contract,” and outlined the importance of “health IT experience” during the evaluation process. If a subcontracting position is more aligned with your strategy, Ms. Gauer expressed, “You want to be drafted, you’re trying out for their team. You will want to show that you’re a team player and can bring value,” and stated, “If you’re in an area where you say, ‘Hey, this is going to be too big for me, but I really want a contract,’ other contract holders will want to help.”
In further discussions about Navy utilized vehicles, NITAAC Director Bridget Gauer detailed, “CIO-CS is our third BIC solution” at NITAAC, explaining that similar to CIO-SP3, “It is also IT-based, but it is an OEM and reseller vehicle.” Of the requirements being competed through CIO-CS, Ms. Gauer highlighted, “Navy did a huge cloud buy through it,” and “Census Bureau did a huge order for Census Mobile as a Service though it.”
MDA TEAMS Next Vehicle
The Director of MDA Office of Small Business Programs Lee Rosenberg (who is anticipated to retire in August 2019, and whose replacement has not been determined) shared on the history of the TEAMS program, “We had tons and tons of contracts out there. Each program office is buying their own stuff, there was a lot of duplication, and about 7-8% of it went to prime contracting to small business. Then the director of the agency decided, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re spending $900M of 2008 money on all of that.’ He said, ‘There is a better way to do it than this,’ so he formed up a program office and he consolidated all of that support. We went from LOE types of contracts to performance-based under a contract called MiDAESS – Missile Defense Agency Engineering and Support Services. We kicked that off with a bunch of IDIQ contracts, and we recompeted it and it was a nightmare. It was a lot of work on everybody’s side, but we were able to set aside 38% of prime [small business contracts]. So, when MiDAESS was coming to an end, we changed the name of program to TEAMS – Technical Engineering Acquisition and Management Support, in case you wanted to know what it stood for – and we decided to do 31 seed contracts, 3 year base and 2 one year options, and that’s what is currently in existence. Oh by the way, 68% of that work was set aside for small businesses, and now we’re going to TEAMS Next, and I think there’s more opportunity to set aside if you guys participate in the market research. So, let me foot stomp how important it is to reply to RFIs when they get put out there. My colleagues and I – one of our biggest frustrations is we put out an RFI and we get [nothing] from small businesses.” Mr. Rosenberg articulated that the “TEAMS Next [procurement] is coming up. We’re taking all of those contracts and looking into what we need to do to recompete them in the future. Like the current TEAMS program, quality and mission assurance security will come first, but we’re in acquisition planning right now. We posted a Q&A from the Industry Day this morning [7/24/2019],” which he suggests vendors should review, stating, “If you are interested in TEAMS Next, by all means track that RFI. By the end of the summer we will have an acquisition strategy in place.”
SeaPort-e / SeaPort NxG Vehicles
Director of NAVSEA Undersea Systems Contracts Division and SeaPort Program Manager Susan Tomaiko was the speaker discussing the Seaport-e and Seaport NxG vehicles. Ms. Tomaiko identified herself as “the SeaPort Program Manager at the Naval Sea Systems Command; the Naval Sea Systems Command actually runs the SeaPort program for the entire Navy.” Ms. Tomaiko explained the use of the SeaPort vehicle “is now mandatory. So, if you want to do business with the Department of the Navy for services – professional support services [such as] engineering support services – then you need to have a SeaPort MAC to be able to do that.” She continued, “The enterprise change came out last November , and it changed the policy saying that it is mandatory to consider SeaPort if your procurement falls within the functional areas of SeaPort. If you have a reason not to use SeaPort, you can request by doing a determination of finding not to use SeaPort, and that request has to be approved at a very high level. So, the bar is kind of high. The goal is to get everyone using SeaPort, because we are a category management Tier 1 solution. So, like I said, we’re a Tier 1 category management solution – this is a federal initiative to get all of the spending in certain categories. So, professional support services is a category that lends itself very well to the category management [approach]. We’re Tier 1 because we’re agency-wide. Have you heard of OASIS? So, OASIS is a Best-in-Class [vehicle] because it is federal government-wide. We kind of went back in fourth with OASIS at the beginning of the NxG procurement. They were thinking they could maybe incorporate SeaPort into OASIS, but OASIS didn’t have our vendor base, so the Navy said, ‘We can’t do that.’ It was some crazy number. It was like less than 5% of our vendors we’re on OASIS, so we said we can’t do that.” When discussing how to work with the Navy via Seaport, Ms. Tomaiko told the group, “There’s 23 different function categories, but SeaPort is only open to the Navy. So, if you also do work for the Army [or the] Air Force, they’re not on SeaPort. So, it’s Navy-only for now, but it may change in the future, but that’s what it is.” Regarding the offices using SeaPort, Ms. Tomaiko stated, “Of course NAVSEA – the Naval Sea Systems Command – is the largest user at 62%, then you’ve got SPAWAR – of course they’ve now changed their name to NAVWAR – NAVAIR, NAVSUP. And then, the Marine Corp, ONR, and NAVFAC [are] not [using SeaPort] as much. This may change because these statistics are from before SeaPort became mandatory, and so now I think we’re getting a lot more usage out of SeaPort. So, I think these are going to change in the future.” Of the incumbent SeaPort-e MACs, Ms. Tomaiko explained it “ends 31 December 2019 for the purpose of new awards, but we shouldn’t have any active RFPs out there now – they are only through SeaPort NxG now – but task orders are still active through SeaPort-e [until their expiration].” She later stated, “SeaPort-e will still be around and alive to administer those [ongoing] task orders until the end, but you really shouldn’t see any more RFPs coming out on SeaPort-e. RFPs should be coming out on [SeaPort] NxG.”
Ms Tomaiko expressed a difference between the SeaPort-e and SeaPort NxG vehicles, stating, “We used to have zones – SeaPort-e had zones – and you had to have a presence in that zone to be able to bid in that zone. Under SeaPort NxG, there are no zones.” When discussing DCMA administering SeaPort contracts, Ms. Tomaiko stated, “I’m not sure if you guys have heard that DCMA has stopped administering service contracts, or they’re trying to, but for SeaPort-e we negotiated with them, and they will continue to administer contracts. So, if you’re worried about your SeaPort-e task orders, don’t worry. They’re going to keep those. For SeaPort NxG, we’re still negotiating those. This says that we will determine on a case-by-case basis, but we’ve actually moved further along with them than that. We’re negotiating with them to pay them to administer our SeaPort NxG contracts. It’s looking like we’ll have DCMA either way, but we might have to pay them to administer our contracts.” When looking at other differences between Seaport-e and Seaport NxG, Ms. Tomaiko detailed, “We get a lot of questions about recertification of size status – so in SeaPort-e, you maintain your size status only at the MAC level, but in SeaPort NxG there are a few changes. First of all, for the designation of small or large, that’s at the MAC level until the award term option, and this is in accordance with SBA policy, so if you’re small when you got your NxG MAC but you grow to large in that first five years, you can still be considered small and bid on small business set-asides until the fifth year – until you get to the end of the award term – and then you will have to switch over to large. But for the socioeconomic categories – those are checked at the time of task order proposal.”
Of SeaPort NxG, Ms. Tomaiko expressed, “We just got started – we’ve been very busy. Going back to June of 2018, we released the solicitation [for SeaPort NxG], answered 241 questions, got proposals in July – we got 1,894 proposals – and we were able to make awards within the schedule that we had published, which was 3 December. We made 1,873 awards. Those awardees are from 46 different states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. 1,553 [of the awardees] are small businesses, so that’s great.” According to Ms. Tomaiko, “On 2 January , we started with vendor access and go-live [for SeaPort NxG]. So, 2 January was the very first day that anyone could issue an RFP in NxG. Since January, not only have task orders been awarded, but 11 of those task orders were awarded to small businesses; 10 of them were set-aside” specifically for small business competition.Furthermore, she explained, “There was one 8(a) set-aside, one SDVOSB set-aside, and eight regular small business set-asides; this is just since January ! And, the dollars, $27M has been obligated and the contract value is $175M. So, Navy has awarded contracts worth $175M to small business since just January; it’s pretty impressive. Currently, right now, there are 42 small business set-aside RFPs out on the street waiting to be awarded. Things are moving very fast. Of the 42 RFPs, six of them are 8(a) set-asides, two are SDVOSB set-asides, four are WOSB set-asides, and then 30 [total] small business set-asides. So, exciting, exciting stuff!” Of SeaPort NxG, Ms. Tomaiko highlighted, “It’s all competitive on SeaPort, there’s no sole sources and we don’t even do bridges on SeaPort. All requirements are competitive, so there’s no way that you can go specifically to any one company.” Ms. Tomaiko stated,“We’re trying to limit the number of awardees to companies that actually want to participate.” She communicated the reason behind this change, saying, “So, under SeaPort-e, we had a lot of companies that never ever even submitted a proposal, and so we had a big administrative burden because we had over 3,000 companies. A lot of them never even submitted a proposal, so about 6 months prior to the award term we will probably see if there is anyone who hasn’t even tried [to win work], and they may not get their next award term. Please keep that in mind that we’re going to be doing that. You’re going to want to at least submit a proposal – you might not have won – but you will want to at least submit a proposal.” Ms. Tomaiko also gave an update in her speech about a very recent update for Seaport NxG, exclaiming, “Hot off the press! We issued this today [7/27/2019] – it’s the schedule for our first rolling admission [for SeaPort NxG]. So, if you don’t have a NxG MAC and you want one, this is the schedule. We’re going to release the solicitation in January of 2021. We’ll have proposals come in February, and we’ll make awards in June ,” later stating, “This is our notional schedule, but I think we’ll probably stick to it pretty well like we did last time.” We also learned from Ms. Tomaiko, “We’re expecting a big number of proposals for rolling admission. I think there were a few [vendors] in NAVAIR that didn’t get on NxG that are looking to get on. For our last rolling admission for SeaPort-e, we awarded over 600 new contracts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we got 600 this time.” Of the NxG rolling admission, Ms. Tomaiko further expressed, “The qualification requirement is going to be the same as it was for the basic award. You have to have direct experience under the Navy in one of the 23 functional areas covered by SeaPort, which are basically engineering and program management – those are the two big categories, but it covers things like logistics and some other stuff. One way to get that experience would be to team up with someone who has a [Seaport] NxG MAC and be a subcontractor to them, because subcontractor experience counts too – you don’t have to be a prime. It doesn’t have to be SeaPort experience though, it can be any Department of the Navy experience, and it doesn’t matter the dollar value so it can be a simplified acquisition, a small purchase, as long as it is in the right area that is the same as what we would buy in SeaPort, then that’s all that matters.” Ms. Tomaiko suggested that vendors should “keep checking FBO” for updates relating to SeaPort NxG.
When discussing changes to the GSA OASIS vehicles, GSA Office of Small Business Utilization Associate Administrator Charles Manger explained that GSA plans a “launch of 8(a) sub pools” under each OASIS Small Business (SB) Pool to allow for sole sourcing and competitive set-asides. According to Mr. Manger, OASIS is “a suite of 14 multiple award, multi-agency IDIQ contracts,” and recently OASIS stakeholders have decided to increase the number of contract holders in OASIS SB and Unrestricted (U) Pools 1, 3, and 4. The following is expected to stem from the On-Ramp competition (which required solicitations to be submitted on June 20, 2019):
OASIS SB “Pool 1 to increase from 44 up to 200 in total” vendors.
OASIS SB “Pool 3 to increase from 43 up to 200 in total” vendors.
OASIS SB “Pool 4 to increase from 40 up to 100 in total” vendors.
OASIS U “Pool 1 to increase from 45 up to 80 in total” vendors.
OASIS U “Pool 3 to increase from 42 up to 80 in total” vendors.
OASIS U “Pool 4 to increase from 42 up to 80 in total” vendors.
For further insight, Mr. Manger clarified that OASIS “supports commercial and non-commercial items” and “all contract types,” including cost, FFP, T&M, and LH type contracts. Of the OASIS vehicle, Mr. Manger conveyed it is “designed for long periods of use,” as “the task order period of performance is through 2029,” and “task order awards are through 2024.” Additionally he stated, “There are no plans for any other On-Ramps [to OASIS SB or OASIS U] at this time.”
The speaker delivering NITAAC updates and information was NITAAC Director Bridget Gauer. She shared, “We [NITAAC] like all federal agencies to use our contracts.” About NITAAC contracts, Ms. Gauer shared, “It was a very grueling process, but all of our contracts are Best-in-Class” vehicles. To speak to their relationship with the event’s hosting agency, she told the group, “We do a lot of work with the Navy; we also work with SPAWAR, I know they just changed their name [to NAVWAR].” Regarding the kind of contracts executed by their group, Ms. Gauer stated “We don’t do BPAs, [NITAAC uses] all FAR part 15 procurements.”
Navy Subcontracting Updates – Supporting Small Businesses
Director of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs Jimmy Smith shared important updates regarding their efforts to combat subcontracting challenges small businesses are facing. When discussing how to hold large business primes accountable for their subcontracting plans, Mr. Smith stated, “When the COR or CO says the prime isn’t adhering to their subcontracting plan, moving forward they will get a lower CPARS rating. I’m in talks about implementing that moving forward.”
MDA Small Business Overview
Director of MDA Office of Small Business Programs Lee Rosenberg (who is anticipated to retire in August 2019, and whose replacement has not been determined) shared of MDA’s challenges, “Our threats are not standing still.” He later explained, “We are spending a lot more than we’ve spent recently on advanced technology to stay ahead,” as “what we see on the horizon is frightening, and we want to stay out ahead of that.” According to Mr. Rosenberg, “We spent $1.5B that went to [small businesses] subcontracting last year [FY2018] to large business primes.” Mr. Rosenberg said of MDA’s vehicle usage, “We don’t use OASIS, or at least we haven’t in the past,” further referencing that MDA has “32 separate contracts that cover the entirety of our needs – engineering, facilities, planning, operational support, logistics (mostly logistics planning), human resources, acquisition support, etc.”
The Special Assistant of Cyber for the Assistant Secretary for Defense Acquisition Katie Arrington informed the group,“So, contractors will have to have different levels of CMMC – Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification – in the future if they want to bid, and the different levels of certification required will depend on the work you are supporting.” Ms. Arrington addressed that vendors will be required to maintain a “minimum of basic cyber hygiene [as it] will be required” to support DoD programs once the change is implemented. She further expressed the certifications will“be done by a third party, right? Because if not, it would be a conflict of interest.”