DHS pledges big bucks to GSA’s professional services contract

DALLAS–The Homeland Security Department is committing $250 million a year in spending to the professional services governmentwide acquisition contract known as OASIS.

DHS signed a memorandum of understanding with GSA Tuesday detailing its commitment.

“DHS, like the Army and the Air Force, saw some value in the OASIS contracts. We provide a very flexible vehicle that gives their contracting officers a lot of control, flexibility to take care of their professional services requirements. We are talking about organizations that spend a lot of money on professional services,” said Todd Richards, the OASIS program manager at the General Services Administration, before a panel discussion at the National Contract Management Association’s World Congress conference. “The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity process, establishing their own contracts, administering those contracts over and over again for the same kinds of services and in many cases with the same vendors is a very expensive proposition in terms of contactor resources and taxpayer money so a lot of people have seen the value in the OASIS contracts that we bring to the table and they see it as a real relief to their contracting resources.”

And when DHS looks at the money it’s already spending with GSA, through the schedules program or through GWACs, it can save money by committing to a specific amount to OASIS. DHS, for instance, spent about 30 percent of its $1.9 billion procurement budget last year with GSA.

Richards said GSA is cutting DHS’s fee from 0.75 percent to 0.25 percent.

“The more you use the contract, the cheaper it becomes and you save the government money by using OASIS instead of establishing your own contracts,” he said. “For agencies that have high spend thresholds or high spending levels in professional levels, we designed this tiered fee structure to make it attractive for them to consider OASIS.”

This is the third major MOU GSA signed with a large buyer to use OASIS. In December 2013, the Air Force said it would spend $500 million a year on the contract, and about a year later the Army made a similar commitment. For that level of commitment, the Army and Air Force’s fee is 0.10 percent.

Richards said the DHS MOU is similar to the ones signed by the two military services. He said other agreements are in the works, but wouldn’t comment on who GSA is negotiating with.

Richards said agencies have committed to about $1.8 billion under OASIS contracts so far, of that $1.3 billion has gone to small businesses.

The Air Force continues to be the largest user of OASIS, with the Army, the Navy, the Defense Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development also obligating large amounts of money to the contract.

Booz Allen Hamilton is the top vendor by total dollars, winning more than $31 million so far, with Odyssey Systems Consulting Corp., Assurance Technology Corp., Northrop Grumman and Zel Technologies rounding out the top five companies by total dollars.

GSA awarded OASIS to 74 large businesses and 123 small businesses in May and February of 2014, respectively.

Through OASIS, GSA hopes to increase its share of the addressable spend in professional services across the government to 31 percent by 2017, which would increase the total spending through GSA schedules by more than $7 billion. For fiscal 2015, GSA’s goals is 22 percent.

In 2014, agencies spent more than $9.6 billion with vendors on the professional services schedule or about 18 percent of the government’s spend. That was up from $9.2 billion the year before, which was almost 17 percent of the agency’s total spend on services.

GSA recently launched an OASIS dashboard detailing which agencies are using the contract the most, and which vendors are winning the most work.

The dashboard is part of GSA is trying to give agency customers more data about their spending.

“We are getting a lot of positive feedback. The way OASIS works is our contractors will enter transactional level data into our databases,” Richards said. “We’ve gotten rave reviews back from our client base about the insight that it gives them. We already are working on version 2.0 to let them drill down deeper into those numbers to get a handle of where their money goes, how much of it and what branches or what areas so they can better manage it.”

Richards said the idea to develop the dashboard came from a suggestion from its client working group.

The dashboard is one of several tools GSA is developing for government buyers to improve how they buy professional services through OASIS.

“Over the next year, the focus right now is more outreach and more training, getting people familiar with OASIS. What it can do, the breadth and the scope of OASIS, and what it can’t do,” Richards said. “We are rolling out more tools and improving the tools we do have. You will probably see an update to the OASIS estimating tool. We already have inputs to update the OASIS discovery market research tool and we are trying to roll out a skeleton task order development system to help provide more templates if someone wants to do a cost reimbursement task order or load their clauses right into the task order. We are trying to build things that will make contracting officer’s lives easier.”

OASIS is a major piece to the professional services hallway under the administration’s category management initiative.

Richards said day-to-day operations isn’t impacted by the initiative, but as GSA continues to consolidate services schedules and bring together all the available options and information in the hallway, OASIS expects to be a major player.

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