Part 4: Tera-Scope Contracts – Value Add or Gordian Knot?

In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series we have looked at the trend for Federal Information Technology (IT) procurements to enter into “Tera-Scope” contracts where all possible IT goods and services are brought under one massive Performance Work Statement.  Some Agencies are requesting all-or-none responses which are impossible for any one company to meet alone.  This adds further to the complexity by necessitating Teaming Arrangements that create groups capable of meeting all the task areas, experience requirements and socio-economic requirements of the RFP.  Some Agencies are creating their Tera-Scope RFPs but allowing companies to participate only in those areas representing their core competencies.  This simplifies the proposal writing process for the contractor and the evaluation process for the Government.

Ultimately a set of contracts will result that can be used by the target customer groups within an Agency, or even Government-wide, for ordering.  In Agency specific scenarios, the resulting contracts are promised to be the only vehicles to be used for any Agency requirement.  Project Managers must work with a company or a Team that has one of the contracts under the Tera-Scope.  Work may be competed only among those companies or Teams that have one of the contracts under the Tera-Scope.  Let us hope the Source Selection Team has chosen wisely and avoided protests from the losing companies.

What does the Government believe will happen when it limits its buyers’ access to companies that provide goods and services?

Winning companies should provide better prices just because they know they are more likely to get work now that the competition has been narrowed (aka Strategic Sourcing).
Winning companies should continue to provide better and better prices because they have to compete within this smaller pool to […]

Part 3: Tera-Scope Contracts and Risk

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series we talked about the contractor and Government perspectives of setting up for, releasing and responding to a Tera-Scope contract opportunity.  Now let’s talk about the high risks associated with putting together such a complicated contractual arrangement.

For several decades the Federal Government has employed Long Term Contracts in order to found relationships with a vendor or vendors for a long period of time.  Task orders are issued against the contracts for work as needs arise.  This saves the Government from repeating the full acquisition process over and over.  Sometimes only the founding Agency can order from the contract.  If ordering is open outside the founding Agency it qualifies as a Government-Wide Acquisition contract (GWAC).   I’m calling a Tera-Scope contract a Long Term Contract where the Government combines every conceivable IT service under one umbrella that requires each offeror to respond to all task areas.  This necessitates Teaming in order to present an excellent proposal in every regard.  For Tera-Scope opportunities where you must respond to all task areas a company cannot afford to be “just okay” in any one of them.  The main difference for a Tera-Scope is that the range of tasks included is very broad – even vast.

In responding to a Tera-Scope RFP proposals must detail why a Team is high quality and high value for every aspect of the Tera-Scope.  Once everything is written and submitted it may still be a while before a decision is made by the Government.  A recently publicized Tera-Scope draft RFP comes with a timeline of 12 months for evaluation and selection of teams for award.  Make sure you understand the termination provisions of your Teaming Agreements. You don’t […]

Part 2: Tera-Scope IT Contracts

In Part 1 of this series we talked about the trend towards “Tera-Scope” competitions within the U.S. Government for comprehensive Information Technology (IT) services.  Here in Part 2 we will take a peek under the tent at what the Government is going through.

Many groups that are often perceived as different business areas have collaborated on the PWS for this Tera-Scope contract.  Contributions for task areas have to give enough information about that area to foster understanding of the possibilities without getting too specific about what work will or won’t be ordered, so there can be no perceived promises.  Someone should be reviewing the whole package for consistency, duplication and conflict resolution.  Often this is left to the contracting folks who are not technical experts.  The evaluation criteria must give clear guidance to offerors and evaluators on what the Government needs to know to choose the right Teams.  All of the RFP requirements are pulled into a very large package that undergoes a series of pre-solicitation reviews to make sure the RFP is coherent, compliant and will result in a contract that achieves the Government’s objectives.  It depends on the organization and on the specific individuals involved as to how much conversation takes place between the requiring activities and the contracting activity before the RFP hits the street.  More is better, but more takes longer and these days speedy contract awards are in high demand.  There can be a tendency for a “you take care of your part and I’ll take care of my part” scenario to develop between the requiring activity (the IT Department) and the procurement activity.  There are not too many more frustrating things than re-explaining your requirements to your contracts specialist after […]

Better Buying Power 3.0 – More Emphasis on Best Value

Best value is often described as the tradeoff between cost and performance that provides the greatest overall benefit. However, the word tradeoff to some may imply that one must either sacrifice cost to increase performance or sacrifice performance to reduce cost. Partnet prefers to define best value as the optimal blend of quality and performance delivered at the lowest possible cost and in the least amount of time.

It appears that Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics agrees with us on our best value definition. In a white paper published on September 19, 2014, Mr. Kendall says that Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 continues with a shift in emphasis toward achieving dominant capabilities through innovation and technical excellence.

Although overall cost continues to be a concern for the DOD, BBP 3.0 puts a strong emphasis on innovation. A series of new initiatives are listed below under the topic of Incentivize Innovation in Industry and Government:

Increase the use of prototyping and experimentation.
Emphasize technology insertion and refresh in program planning.
Use Modular Open Systems Architecture to stimulate innovation.
Increase the return on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).
Provide draft technical requirements to industry and involve industry in funded concept definition to support requirements definition.
Provide clear “best value” definitions so that industry can propose and DOD can choose wisely.
Increase small business participation, including more effective use of market research.

As a small business we appreciate the acknowledgement that we an important part of the DOD Acquisition Cycle. As stated in the white paper, “Small businesses remain one of DOD’s most productive sources of innovation — in services as well as in products.”

Does Data Quality Influence Government eCommerce Sales?

The simple answer is, “absolutely.”

eCommerce data quality relates to both invalid data and incomplete data.  Potential customers may find its difficult to recognize what they’re buying without an image or thorough description. Data analysis on the DOD EMALL shows that vendors providing robust data descriptions and product images sell much higher volumes then vendors providing minimal data.  Not surprisingly, the absence of a product image is often the most common catalog characteristic affecting sales.

Partnet engineers are working to improve master data verification and ensure the most complete, accurate data is available to DOD EMALL customers.  In addition, Partnet’s distributed architecture and vendor management system allows vendors to maintain and update their own product data through real-time connections, which has proven to be a faster, more efficient model than caching data with a third-party host.

Good data is also portable–that is, standardized in a way that makes it consumable to external applications and systems. Toward this end, Partnet is working to improve the quality and portability of data on the DOD EMALL, in accordance with Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) guidelines and ISO 8000-110:2009.

Robust data can’t be achieved overnight–it requires a sustained process and thorough commitment to data integrity. Enterprises willing to make that commitment, however, will find it translates into increased sales and satisfied customers.

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