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SETI, DISA’s promising IT contract vehicle for small business

Update as of 2/22/2017: DISA will be holding a pre-proposal conference on SETI on March 10, 2017 at DISA Headquarters, Fort Meade. DISA noted a larger-than-expected industry response, and have allowed for overflow seating for registrants. EZGovOpps will continue to monitor for updates. 

Update as of 3/10/2017: Although DISA has already allotted 20 contracts as small-business set-asides, the agency is heavily emphasizing small-business subcontracting participation in the 10 full-and-open awards expected. DISA is expecting heavily-detailed small-business subcontracting plans for large-businesses making proposals (as well as subcontracting initiatives from any small-business prime contractors), and has stated that “The Contracting Officer can and will hold your company accountable for what is presented in your Subcontracting Plan and Small Business Participation Plan… No bait and switch.” Proposals and Questions on the RFP are due April 4, 2017 at 12pm Eastern Time, through the FBO-listed Question Form sent to disa.meade.PLD.mbx.seti-requirement@mail.mil.  

Update as of 1/3/2018: DISA is projecting awards for both award pools this spring. While contractors wait for the award announcement, DISA is asking Industry partners to submit ideas on innovative contracting strategies

“We have far more requirements than we’ll ever have dollars,” said Defense Information Services Agency (DISA) Operations Center director David Bennett at a recent round-table interview. The rapid pace of technology and rising costs, coupled with a flat budget, have spurred DISA to work on making DOD technology acquisition more efficient. Enter Systems Engineering Technology and Innovation, or SETI, DISA’s new contract vehicle.

SETI is a 7.5-billion-dollar program intended to streamline the acquisition process for end-to-end IT engineering services. DISA intends to award up to ten contracts on an unrestricted basis while restricting twenty contract awards to small businesses, including one reserved for HUBZone.

With two-thirds of available contracts set aside for small business, and with no incumbents on this brand-new program, SETI is an unparalleled opportunity for small IT engineering companies to win DOD prime contracts.

 

Launching SETI, DISA aims to streamline.

DISA is an IT combat support agency that reports directly to the DOD’s Chief Information Officer. Its purpose is to provide information sharing capabilities and an enterprise information structure to support warfighters. Though DISA’s task was already large, it recently was assigned more tasks, including taking on the Joint Service Provider, which provides IT services to the Pentagon.

To handle the increased workload, the agency’s recent focus has been on flattening and simplifying complex tech bureaucracy, as well as unifying DOD technology systems. To read more about DISA’s efforts to upgrade and unify DOD tech, check out EZGovOpps’ recent article.DISA, SETI's contract agency

In order to maximize its budget, DISA is focusing on shrinking the number of contracts it manages and replacing them with more joint enterprise solutions. SETI is intended to contribute to this streamlining effort, along with another DISA program called Encore III.

While Encore III is focused on maintenance, SETI is intended to spark innovation. By offering IT engineering solutions through a single platform, the government hopes to encourage innovation through competition without sacrificing cost-effectiveness or ease of procurement.

One unique way SETI hopes to push for innovation is “Contractor Competitions,” in which contract holders will be provided with a problem or requirement and may submit solutions to the problem; from there, the government might build task orders. According to the draft RFP issued by DISA, SETI competitions are intended as a “quick, flexible way to get innovative solutions or emerging technologies under contract.”

 

DISA SETI fast facts:

Structure: SETI is a Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) IDIQ with a five-year base and one five-year option period. Task orders can be awarded as fixed price, cost-reimbursement, incentive or time and materials contracts. Though setasides are not mandatory, agencies can issue task orders set aside for small business and other disadvantaged business categories. Task orders can be issued by all DOD mission partners. SETI awardees are guaranteed $500.

NAICS Code: 541512 – Computer Systems Design Services, with a size standard of $27.5 million

Task Areas:

  • Systems Engineering
  • Design Analysis Engineering
  • Systems Architecture
  • Software Systems Design and Development
  • Systems Integration
  • Systems Test and Evaluation
  • Systems Deployment and Life-cycle Engineering
  • Special Systems Engineering Requirements

Evaluation Criteria: To the delight of industry members, DISA is awarding SETI on a best value basis rather than Lowest Price Technically Acceptable. This follows a general government trend away from LPTA, especially following an NDAA recommendation not to use it (you can read more of our NDAA coverage here). Use this to your advantage when crafting your proposal, and highlight why your business offers the best quality.

Timeline: SETI was supposed to be awarded last year, but the agency ran into some hiccups trying to differentiate its tasks from Encore III. According to the latest notice issued by DISA, SETI’s final RFP will be issued in the third quarter of FY17, and awarded in the second quarter of FY18. That leaves companies a lot of time to prepare.

 

What can my business do while waiting for the final RFP to be released?

Companies can submit feedback on the draft RFP; responses are encouraged by January 12th but accepted up until the final RFP is released. To take advantage, make sure you fully read the supporting documents and slides from the 2015 industry day. You can find all of the supporting docs, interested parties, contact information and other intel on the EZGovOpps platform.

You can also use EZGovOpps to gather market intelligence on the competition, research similar contracts, and get email updates when DISA releases updates on SETI. Sign up for a free trial today to find out how our software can help you win this contract.

Don’t forget to view our full GovCon News section for more intel.

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