A $50 Billion Windfall from the GSA

By Baselinemag Print this article Print

The U.S. General Services Administration has arrived at a solution to streamline the process by which it awards technology contracts. But to outsiders, it looks like an insider game.

For some time now, the U.S. General Services Administration, the procurement hub for many federal agencies and the Department of Defense, has been trying to streamline the process by which it awards information technology contracts while reducing cost overruns.

In late July, the GSA arrived at what it believed was a solution to these two objectives: the Alliant Governmentwide Acquisition Contract, potentially worth up to $50 billion – that's right, billion – to eligible technology consulting firms. GSA also announced that out of the 66 companies submitting bids for a piece of this contract, it had selected 29 firms – most of them large consultancies and integrators with a strong presence inside the Beltway and an established track record of working with the Feds and DoD.

Some of the winners include Accenture National Security Services, Computer Sciences Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., IBM, SI International; Caci Inc. Federal; L-3 Communications Titan Group, and Unisys Corp.

Some analysts such as John Slye of Input, the Reston, Va.-based government IT consultancy, downplay the importance of Alliant, noting that the two GSA acquisition programs that Alliant will replace – Millenia and ANSWER – haven't generated much business, only $574 million in contract revenues in 2006. Slye argues that big spending agencies are opting to use their own internal acquisition programs to acquire the services of IT contractors. He told Washington Technology that, as a result, Alliant would do well to generate $7.5 billion in business.

Perhaps. But many of the winning contractors are already estimating that the potential value of their portion of the contract will be significant. CSC, as an example, says its portion will be worth approximately $900 million. At the same time, GSA is working to educate agencies about the unique features of Alliant, notably that it is organized in the context of the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA). FEA describes the "contours of what IT is and how it supports agency requirements," GSA spokesperson Viki Reath says. "More specifically, the FEA is used as a means to describe the components of an IT solution in a modeled way."

The FEA alignment also maps closely to the methodology the Office of Management and Budget uses to review and approve budget requests. What that means for IT consultancies and their agency clients, then, is that the OMB is more likely to sign off on an Alliant contract than one generated through an agency's internal acquisition program. In Washington, that's called going through channels.

This article was originally published on 2007-09-07
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.