Small businesses have a shot at a big contract as the Air Force prepares to relaunch a competition to provide acquisition services to commands such as its Aeronautical Systems Center.
Under the program, worth up to $3 billion over as many as five years, only small businesses will be allowed to participate.
The Air Force is seeking a broad range of acquisition-related services, including help considering alternatives to buying a particular item and assistance with testing and evaluating systems.
Ashley Bergander, manager of federal programs with government contracting market analysis company FedSources, said the program represents an opportunity for winning businesses to influence the Air Force’s acquisition process.
It gives industry a chance to help “mold the government into a form that’s easier for industry to work with,” she said.
The program is being closely watched by subscribers to Input, a company that also studies the government contracting market. Nearly 900 subscribers have indicated that they’re interested in the opportunity, said Amber Robinson, Input’s Air Force analyst.
The program was last awarded in 2006 to 10 prime contractors, including the Falls Church-based Centech Group and PE Systems in Fairfax.
Based on Bergander’s analysis, several of the incumbents have graduated out of small business status, leaving potential openings.
In an analysis of the opportunity, Input noted that the $3 billion ceiling is far higher than the $850 million ceiling of the original program. However, actual spending has been well below that maximum; Input reports that less than $500 million has been committed.
The Air Force is set to release a new draft solicitation this month and make an award in September.
– by Marjorie Censer – The Washington Post – Monday, December 6, 2010; page 11