The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued solicitations for Polaris, the agency’s new small business-focused governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC). Building on the success of 8(a) STARS III and VETS 2, this latest GWAC will include a greater focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, automated technology, distributed ledger technology, edge computing, and immersive technology while furthering Administration efforts on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
“This first-of-its-kind contract will make it easier for small businesses to offer innovative IT solutions to the government, and marks another milestone in the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance equity in federal procurement,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “Now more than ever, we need to be smart and efficient in how we connect federal buyers with sellers in the IT space, and harnessing the ingenuity of small businesses is vital to achieving that goal.”
GSA’s GWACs are known as best-in-class, easy to use, and streamlined procurement solutions. Agencies have used GSA’s small business GWACs over the decades to fulfill more than $32 billion in IT requirements.
Polaris will support Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The contract will be the first of its kind to have four different pools of industry partners – Small Business, Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone), and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). This first set of requests for proposals (RFPs) are specifically for the small business and WOSB pools. GSA intends to release the HUBZone and SDVOSB RFPs before the end of the fiscal year.
“The staggered approach to the pools allows us to more quickly provide the federal marketplace with access to key industry segments for which there is procurement set-aside authority and provide equitable business opportunities for historically underserved and marginalized small businesses, while supporting customer agencies and their small business program goals,“ said Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi.
“The creation of these four diverse pools will afford more opportunities through increased exposure to government opportunities,” said Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner for the GSA Office of Information Technology Category (ITC). “Customers seeking customized IT services or an IT services-based solution from a Small Business, HUBZone, SDVOSB, or WOSB will have access to highly-qualified small businesses from these sectors who can meet their IT mission objectives and deliver small business program results, advancing a more just society in fulfillment of public policy objectives.”
There are a number of good-for-government key features of Polaris including expanded Small Disadvantaged Business participation opportunities, regular refreshment of the industrial base through regular on-ramps, the inclusion of a technical refresh clause that can be triggered as needed to adapt to customer needs, and award of Polaris without a contract ceiling. Additionally, GSA plans to award the Polaris GWACs with no pricing at the contract level, which will enhance competition driving pricing at the task order level.
To account for the planned SAM.gov downtime for Unique Entity ID (SAM) transition, the Polaris Submission Portal (PSP) will open for registration no earlier than April 5, 2022. Prior to the PSP opening for registration, industry is encouraged to review the solicitation requirements on SAM.gov and view the upcoming pre-proposal conference. Industry is welcome to submit any questions after viewing the pre-proposal conference and upon registering in PSP. Further details can be found in the solicitation. Additionally, GSA has extended the proposal submission window to accommodate for the SAM.gov transition downtime.
General questions from industry related to the Polaris GWAC may be directed to Polaris@gsa.gov
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