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News > Competition, small business outreach key to support contracting effort
Mr. Marr
Patrick Marr, director of Electronic Systems Center’s Enterprise Acquisition Division, briefs industry reps on the anticipated procedures and timelines for the center’s next round of support contracting efforts at Hanscom AFB March 31. (USAF Photo by Rick Berry)
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Competition, small business outreach key to support contracting effort

Posted 4/4/2011   Updated 4/4/2011 Email story   Print story


by Chuck Paone
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/4/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The new round of Electronic Systems Center support contracting will include more competition and even greater outreach to small businesses, the man leading the efforts told an industry gathering here March 31.

Patrick Marr, director of ESC's Enterprise Acquisition Division, told members of the Hanscom Representatives Association that both the technical and non-technical acquisition support contracting vehicles will rely on full and open competition under small business set-aside provisions.

The Engineering and Technical Acquisition Support Services, known as ETASS, is first up for renewal. If all goes well, the ETASS request for proposal will be out before the end of this month, Mr. Marr said.

That schedule is built on a number of assumptions, and Mr. Marr emphasized that its release must be approved by the program executive officer for Combat and Mission Support at the Pentagon. That position is currently held by Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, whom the Air Force announced on Friday will soon be reassigned as deputy assistant secretary for Contracting within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.

Still, while the exact timing of the RFP release may not be cast in cement, most of the acquisition strategies and competition rules have been.

Unlike ETASS I, which relied on one contract with single prime contractor, ETASS II will be composed of multiple awards, Mr. Marr said. Also unlike its predecessor, ETASS II will be led - 'primed' in contracting parlance - by small businesses. Larger companies will be able to participate via teaming arrangements, performing various percentages of the work, depending on specific circumstances.

Small businesses in this case are being defined by the North American Industry Classification System 541712, using the aircraft industry size standard of 1,500 employees or fewer. In the previous support contracting round initiated in 2006, ESC classified businesses as small if they had 500 or fewer employees at the point of contract award.

The target number of five ETASS Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract awards will run for a three-year base period with two one-year options. All individual task orders awarded will have a one-year base with two one-year options. Each will be re-competed within three years.

"The philosophy behind that is to retain the spirit of competition throughout the ordering period of these contracts," Mr. Marr said. It will also give contracting teams more than "one bite of the apple."

If the current schedule holds, ETASS II contracts will be awarded by December. The current ETASS contact period, awarded in 2007 for a three-year period of performance, is operating on a 12-month extension and could, if required, receive another five-month extension.

The non-technical support contracting vehicle, referred to as PASS (Professional Acquisition Support Services), is also moving toward a re-compete phase. The current schedule calls for a draft RFP in July, an industry day in August and a final RFP in September, with an eye toward contract award in June 2012.

"This is a high-level schedule, but it's what we're working toward and what we hope to stick to," Mr. Marr said.

He expects many of the characteristics of ETASS II to be used for PASS II, as well. There will be multiple ID/IQ contracts and full and open competition with a small business set-aside. The same rules on contract awards and task order re-competition apply too.

Some structural aspects are still being considered and analyzed, however.  Among decisions not yet made: whether awards will be at the division (in keeping with the current PASS structure) or directorate level; and whether they'll be functionally or programmatically aligned.

Mr. Marr also addressed organizational conflict of interest, or OCI. Always a topic of great concern among the contracting community, OCIs arise primarily when a contractor working to support government acquisition is deemed too closely aligned with a developer of the systems being acquired.

For ETASS at least, Mr. Marr introduced a two-part rule set. The first part, applicable to all bidders, requires companies to analyze and explain their own internal processes for handling OCIs. The second part requires any contractor with a "real or perceived conflict" to file a mitigation plan.

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