High value but not so high profile – GovCon

For the past 7 years, the total value of Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts has kept pace with or exceeded the value awarded to definitive contracts.

Agencies issue definitive contacts to one company to provide a product or service for a specified price. In contrast, agencies issue IDIQ contracts to a multiple awardee pool, who bid on task orders (TOs) that also provide a product or service for a specific price. Some of the most popular IDIQ contracts include the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Alliant/Alliant Small Business (SB), the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) CIO-SP3, and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions II (EAGLE II). According to Bloomberg Government’s “Contracts Drive Federal Market: BGOV Contractors Digest,” in 2014, definitive contracts took 53% of the contracting market value while IDIQs took 47% of the contracting market value.

In addition, high-value opportunities in the $100–$500 million range that were once only sponsored by agency contracting departments are now found on IDIQ vehicles. Figure 1 shows six large IDIQ TO contracts with 2017 expiration dates.

Figure 1: Sample 2017 task order values

Task Order Name IDIQ Vehicle Contract Ceiling
IT Ops & Maint. (DHS) Alliant Enterprise $546M
Computer and Cyber Forensics (DC3) (Air Force) Alliant Enterprise $464M
USCENTCOM C4 Directorate (Air Force) Alliant Enterprise $433M
State Dept. Help Desk Alliant SB $283M
CMS IT Support CIO-SP3 $266M
NRCS application development (USDA) Alliant SB $106M

Depending of the number of IDIQ contract holders, an agency can easily receive a dozen bids for a high-profile task order, while lower value IDIQ task orders often attract a handful of bids or less.

High value but not high profile

The tricky part about winning a high-profile task order can be getting information about the bid. For a high-profile definitive bid, the contracting office usually publishes all the previous solicitation documents on FedBizOpps.gov or its own website, holds an industry day, and releases draft and final solicitations. A capture manager can also find substantial information about the bid on commercial databases such as Bloomberg Government, Deltek GovWin, Govini, or GovTribe.

Finding an equal amount of information about an IDIQ TO can be challenging. Some IDIQ vehicles do not keep a library of their solicitation documents, so unless you saved the originals, you must ask the contracting officer for the previous solicitation documents, which may take some time. Finding solicitation documents for TOs on commercial databases is a 50/50 proposition at best. In addition, finding historical information on TOs is unlikely since the ruling governing the protest of TOs only changed recently.

One free and useful tool for finding information about a task order is the Federal Procurement Database System, which maintains updated expiration dates, ceiling values, and obligation information about TOs.

Bid to win task orders

Given that it may take longer to acquire the intelligence needed to bid a high-profile task order, consider implementing these five tips:

  1. Create a TO pipeline of bids that will expire during the next 3 years to give your company enough time to mount a successful bid.
  2. Use the available time to learn as much as possible about the bid from the customer, subject matter experts, and vendors and validate your solution with the customer.
  3. Work to influence the bid in your favor or at least level the playing field; TO bids have a notorious reputation for being wired.
  4. Ensure you understand your competitors. Many new competitors form as businesses are bought, merged, and sold. Many SB IDIQs require companies to recertify, which may remove them from the competition and make their incumbent work fair game.
  5. Sharpen your pencil. Many IDIQs procure IT or professional services as commodities, so understanding your customer price versus value tolerance is essential.

As more work moves to high-profile IDIQ contracts, understanding and analyzing potential TOs is crucial to building your pipeline.

by Brenda Crist, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Connect with Brenda on LinkedIn.

Reprinted with permission from the APMP-NCA Fall 2016 Executive Summary

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Lohfeld Consulting