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Intro to GWACs

EZGovOpps has published reports on many Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), including CIO-SP3 from the NIH and SEWP V. For those getting started in the Federal contracting space, we thought it would be helpful to describe the mechanisms, advantages, and disadvantages of a GWAC.

A GWAC is very similar to a Multiple-Award Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (MA IDIQ) contract, where contracts are awarded to to multiple vendors for goods and services. In a GWAC, these services are always related to technology, but the most important difference is that any Federal agency can utilize the contracts, not just the agency which awarded it. Once a company has been granted a spot on a GWAC (which must first be approved by the Office of Management and Budget before proposals are solicited), that does not guarantee that they will receive business. Companies must compete for separate task orders submitted by the agencies, and the company selected as the source for that task order is then awarded.

GWAC Snapshot

Four major GWACs are handled by the General Services Administration, but NASA and the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) have been steadily working to compete with GSA through their own GWACs. All of them show a steady increase in the use of GWACs for technology procurement.

The NASA SEWP GWAC started in 1993 as an $800 million contract focused on “Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement.” Now, after 4 more iterations, what started as a Unix workstation procurement contract worth less than $1 billion has become SEWP V, a $10.5 billion vehicle with a total of 145 cleared companies that was awarded in 2015. SEWP V is broken into two Categories, A and B, with respective primary NAICS codes of 334111 -Electronic Computer Manufacturing- and 541519 -Other Computer Related Services.

NITAAC holds 3 major GWACs, each with a 10-year Period of Performance and a ceiling of $20 billion:

  • Chief Information Officer – Solutions and Partners 3 (CIO-SP3), with a NAICS code of 541512
  • Chief Information Officer – Solutions and Partners 3 Small Business (CIO-SP3 SB), with a NAICS code of 541512
  • Chief Information Officer – Commodities Solutions (CIO-CS), with a NAICS code of 541519


GSA Headquarters (Courtesy of Cliff via Flickr)

GSA Headquarters (Courtesy of Cliff via Flickr)

GSA‘s first GWAC, Veterans Technology Services (VETS), was awarded in 2007 as a $5 billion vehicle for services from service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses. VETS has awarded $2 billion since 2007 through 364 task orders, reaching a peak in 2011 with $385.7 million awarded that year. Since 2009, Alliant, which “allows for long-term planning of large-scale program requirements” and “provides flexible access to customized IT solutions from a large, diverse pool of industry partners” has, along with its fellow Small Business GWAC, has awarded over $20 billion since starting in 2009, and is scheduled to end in 2019 with replacements worth $50 billion and $15 billion for SB’s on the way.

Finally, the GSA 8(a) STARS II small-business set-aside GWAC, since it’s start in 2011, has awarded over $5 billion dollars. From 2012 to 2016, 8(a) STARS II has been awarded the highest number of task orders in the GSA group, averaging almost 74% of all tasks orders in those years. However, awarding the most task orders has not translated into awarding the most funding. Out of the $23.5 billion awarded in that same period of time, 8(a) STARS II has only awarded a little over $4.8 billion, or 20.5% of all award dollars.

Increasing Competition

The GSA GWACs mentioned above have obviously been very successful in linking up companies providing IT services and interested Federal agencies. In an effort to compete with these GWACs, as well the massive IT Schedule 70, NASA and NITAAC have taken strides to lower the contract access fees (CAFs), the payment another agency is required to pay in order to utilize the GWAC. Take a look at the CAFs for the various GWACs below:

GWAC CIO-SP3 CIO-SP3 SB CIO-CS SEWP V 8(a) STARS II Alliant Alliant SB VETS Schedule 70
CAF .65% .55% .35% .30% .75% .75% .75% .75% .75%
Ceiling $20bn $20bn $20bn $10.5bn $10bn $50bn $15bn $5bn

NASA’s SEWP V has held a lower CAF since it’s replacement of SEWP IV in 2015. NITAAC, however, has taken progressive steps to lower the CIO-SP3 and CIO-CS fees since 2016. GSA access fees on both the GWACs and the IT Schedule 70 have held steady, and the Schedule 70 CAF has not changed in more than 15 years. While EZGovOpps has covered the continued growth of Schedule 70 with new services ranging from cybersecurity, to health IT, to a possible GIS-related Special Item Number (SIN), NASA and SEWP have made similar strides in expanding the scopes of their GWACs. NITAAC has been emphasizing health IT, while SEWP has rapidly expanded the base of providers for a more diverse talent pool.

GWACs have been called the “vehicle of choice” in Federal contracting, and the long term success of SEWP and other vehicles, combined with the rapid growth of GWACs from the GSA prove that IT companies should take a good look at competing as prime contractors on future iterations, and start looking into subcontracting for the many current contract holders. Although the NITAAC e-GOS portal is not accessible to the public, companies who missed the latest CIO-SP3 SB on-ramp opportunity can still utilize EZGovOpps in searching for task order reporting, prime contract holders, and exclusive program updates, allowing for teaming opportunities and better intel for future on-ramp openings. This kind of access to premiere market intelligence applies to the other GWACs described above, and the millions of other opportunities listed in in our platform.

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

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