ASTRO is the GSA’s next major multiple award IDIQ competition and perhaps the largest in 2020. Although the budget is unknown, considering the fact that its scope is geared towards the needs of the military and the warfighters, it is undoubtedly in the tens of billions. The ASTRO program will be administered by GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM) but, as said, focuses on the needs of the DoD in the coming years.
The GSA ASTRO program scope covers operations, maintenance, readiness, development, research and development, hardware, and systems integration of manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms, as well as the services that support those systems, robotics, and platforms within the realm of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR). To put it in simple terms, it covers almost all of the requirements of the military, and this is discussed in more detail in this white paper and the categorizing (Pools) that have been introduced.
FEDSIM plans to award a maximum of 45 contracts for each of the 10 Pools (scope areas) for a maximum of 450 contracts. Although there is no set-aside status for this contract, due to the self-scoring evaluation process, many small businesses have a high chance of winning, making the competition stiff for large businesses. The contracts are planned to support a 10 year ordering period.
What is FEDSIM?
Before diving into the details of ASTRO, it would be prudent to become familiar with FEDSIM, who is administrating the ASTRO program. FEDSIM is a client support center within GSA that is mandated to operate as the acquisition, financial, and project management team for ASTRO.FEDSIM works through interagency agreements and currently manages over $33 billion in contract awards for DoD, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).The organization boasts a 99% protest win rate, an attractive feature for entities looking for assisted acquisition services, and it has received high marks from customer agencies for exceptional client service.
GSA has decided to use the experience and lessons learned of the OASIS program in the ASTRO program. Therefore, in July 2017, it moved the entire OASIS program team to FEDSIM to support the design and development of the ASTRO vehicle.FEDSIM has stated (in the first ASTRO RFI Q&A) that “the acquisition team is intending to utilize the highest technically rated source selection methodology similar to the one the acquisition team invented for OASIS.”For this reason, GSA ASTRO is also based on a self-scoring methodology very similar to OASIS.
The ASTRO scope includes operations, maintenance, readiness, development, systems integration, support, and research and development for manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms, as well as the services that support those systems, robotics, and platforms.These systems, robotics, and platforms may be based on land, air, sea, and/or space. These requirements include the following domains:
Research and Development
The scope of ASTRO spans many areas of expertise and includes any and all components required to formulate a total solution to a requirement, except for those services and products expressly prohibited in this contract. Solutions may include Ancillary Support Services and/or Ancillary Support Products.
Below is a list of the Domains and Subdomains covered by the GSA ASTRO Project:
1. Operations Domain
· Data Operation:
1. 3D Terrain And Structure Mapping
33. Earth Gravity Information Gathering And Analysis
2. Aerial Surveying
34. Emergency Preparedness And Assessments
66. Oceanic Data Collection And Analysis
3. Air Quality Monitoring And Measurement
35. Exercise Support
67. Photography & Film Production
4. Airfield Damage Assessments
36. Fire Detection
68. Population Density Analysis
5. Anti Drug Trafficking
37. Forest Health Protection
69. Powerline Intelligence Gathering
6. Anti-Piracy Monitoring
38. Friendly Force Tracking
70. Precision Agriculture Support
7. Asset Tracking
39. Geospatial Intelligence
71. Radar Operations
8. Asset Verification
40. Global Climate Information Gathering And Analysis
9. Atmospheric Data Collection And Analysis
41. Ground Traffic Monitoring
10. Battle Damage Management
42. Health Sciences
74. Scientific Research
11. Blue Force Tracking
43. Humanitarian Relief
75. Seabed Mapping
12. Border Management
44. Homeland Security
76. Sea Life Research Data Gathering And Analysis
13. Border Security Monitoring
45. Hurricane Analysis, Tracking, And Modeling
77. Search Operations
14. C4 ISR Operations
46. IED Detection
15. C5 ISR Operations
47. IED Forensics
79. Space Exploration
16. Captured Enemy Material Analysis
48. Image And Video Capture
80. Space Operations
17. Change Detection
81. Submarine Detection and Tracking
18. Coalition ISR
50. Intelligence Processing and Collection
82. Surface Ship Detection and Tracking
19. Common Operational Picture (COP) Support
51. ISR Demonstrations
83. Supportability Analysis and Implementation
52. ISR Exercises
21. Crime Scene Situational Awareness
53. Investigation Support
22. CUI Surveys (Corrosion Under Insulation)
54. Joint Operations ISR
23. Detection and Tracking of International Terrorism
55. Land Mapping
87. Traffic Flow Analysis
24. Data Analysis
56. Law Enforcement Operational Support
88. Technical Intelligence Collection
25. Data Compression
57. Leak Detection
89. Undersea and Seabed Surveillance
26. Data Dissemination
90. Urban Planning
27. Data Visualization
59. Maritime Security
91. UxS Detection and Tracking
28. Detection and Tracking of Narco-Trafficking
60. Mine Detection and Tracking
92. Video/Image/Audio Analysis
29. Detection and Tracking of Alien Smuggling
61. Mining Support
93. Weather Analysis And Monitoring
30. Detection and Tracking of Human Trafficking
62. Monitoring Illegal Dumping
94. Wildlife Monitoring, Research, And Preservation
31. Detection and Tracking of Weapons Of Mass Destruction
63. Natural Disaster Response
95. Wildlife Surveys
32. Earth Exploration
64. Natural Resource Management
· Data Operations As A Service
· Mission Operations:
1. AirDrop Operations
8. Fire Fighting
15. Natural Disaster Response
2. Air Traffic Management
9. Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
16. Non-Combatant Evacuation
3. Battlefield Support
10. Launch Services
17. Personnel Recovery
4. Biological Prediction
11. Manned and Unmanned Cargo Transportation
18. Search And Rescue Operations
5. Command and Control
12. Manned and Unmanned Personnel Transportation
19. Special Event Response
6. Contingency Operations
20. Target Activities
7. Electronic Spectrum Management
14. Medical Supply Delivery
· Mission Operations As A Service
2. Maintenance/Readiness Domain:
1. Aircraft Repair and Maintenance
9. Machine Calibration Maintenance
17. Ship Repair and Maintenance
2. Armored Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
18. Supply Chain Logistics
3. Coalition Logistics Management
11. Predictive Maintenance
19. Supply Chain Optimization
4. Equipment Repair and Maintenance
12. Preventive Maintenance
20. Tank Repair and Maintenance
5. Floating Drydock Repair and Maintenance
13. Prognostics and Diagnostics
21. Test Bed Repair and Maintenance
6. Industrial Equipment Repair and Maintenance
14. Radar Ground Station Repair and Maintenance
22. UxS Repair and Maintenance
7. Life Cycle Sustainment
15. Runway Repair and Maintenance
8. Logistics Maintenance
16. Satellite Servicing
3. Development/Systems Integration Domain:
3D Audio Technology
53. Predictive Analysis
2. AI-Enabled Autonomy
28. Human and Machine Symbiosis
3. Acoustic and Sonar
29. Human Factors/Usability Engineering
55. Prototyping and Fabrication Support
4. Advanced Technology Pilots and Trials
30. Human Interfaces
56. Quality Assurance
5. Alternative Energy Sources System Integration
31. Human-Machine Interfaces
57. Remote Sensing
6. Artificial Intelligence
32. Human-Swarm Interfaces
58. Reverse Engineering
7. Augmented/Virtual Reality
33. Human Systems Integration
59. Risk Management
8. Automated Information Sharing
34. Hydro-Electric Propulsion
60. Sensor Creation, Enhancement, Optimization And Development
35. Identity and Access Management
61. Signal Intelligence
10. Baseline (Configuration) Management
36. Independent Verification And Validation
62. Software Development (for non-IT requirements)
11. Big Data Analysis
37. Information Assurance
63. Software Independent Verification and Validation (for non-IT requirements)
64. Specialized Tool Development
65. Swarming Modules
40. Launch Processing and Verification
15. Concept Development
41. Limited Run Initial Production
67. System Design
16. Configuration Management
42. Machine Learning
68. System Effectiveness and Analysis
17. Cyber Security
43. Machine Vision
69. System Life Extension Program
18. Data Analytics
44. Mesh Networks
70. System Security and Information Assurance
19. Data Management
45. Modeling and Simulation
71. System Verification and Validation
20. Data Protection
46. Mission Assurance
72. Systems Engineering
21. Design Documentation and Technical Data
47. Natural Resources Management
73. Technical Intelligence
22. Detect and Avoid
74. Technical Planning
23. Electromagnetic Spectrum Optimization and Allocation
49. Neural Networks
75. Technical Requirements Analysis
24. Energy Services to include Management Planning and Strategies, Audit Services and Metering
27. Relations and Coordination with Law and Policy Making Entities
4. Business Case Development Support
16. Flight Training
28. Risk Management
5. Business Process Re-engineering
17. Insurance Providers
29. Safety Case Analysis
6. Change Management
18. Interface Management
30. Supply Chain Analysis
7. Concept Development and Requirements Analysis
19. Knowledge-Based Acquisition
31. Supply Chain Management
8. Configuration Management
20. Knowledge Management
32. Technical Advisory Services
21. Life Cycle Management
33. Technical Data Management
10. Cost/Schedule/Performance Improvement
22. Logistics Management
34. Workforce Transformation
11. Communication Management
23. Long-Range Planning, Futures, and Forecasting
12. Courseware Development
24. New Technology and Trend Identification
· Mission Support:
1. Command and Control Analysis and Assessments
9. ISR Capability Assessment
17. Strategy Development
2. Counterintelligence Support
10. Kill Chain Analysis
18. Tactical and Readiness Planning
3. Data Strategy and Management
11. Knowledge Management
19. Technical Data Management
4. Decision Analysis
12. Long-Range Planning, Futures, and Forecasting
20. Technical Documentation
5. Front End Analysis
13. Mission Planning Support
21. Threat Analysis
6. Horizontal Protection Assessment
14. Requirements Management
22. Use Case Analysis
7. Information Analytics
15. Strategic Forecasting
23. Vulnerability Assessment
8. Intelligence Analysis
16. Strategic Planning
5. Research And Development Domain
1.Advanced Technology Pilots and Trials
7. Existing Product or Process Updates
13. Product or Process Enhancement
8. Information Assurance
3. All Applicable Scientific Services
15. Regulatory Compliance
10. Joint Test and Evaluation
16. Test and Evaluation
5. Data Sciences
11. New Product or Process Development
17. Verification and Validation
6. Developmental Testing
12. Quality Checks
Note 1: IT is considered an ancillary support service or product on ASTRO task orders and may be performed only when the service or product is integral and necessary to complete a total integrated solution under a requirement within the scope of ASTRO.
Note 2: Architect & Engineering (A&E) Services are not part of the ASTRO program.
GSA ASTRO Pools
GSA ASTRO is shaped around functional domain areas, which are referred to as “Pools.” Each Pool will be assigned a representative NAICS code and associated size standard.There are a total of 10 Pools at the initial award. Each Pool will be a separate ASTRO MA-IDIQ task order contract.
Multiple awards shall be made in each of the 10 Pools. 45 awards are anticipated in each Pool. In the event of a tie at the number 45 position, all Offerors tied will receive an award in the respective Pool.
Below table shows the list of the Pools:
Small Business Size
Maximum No. of Awards
All data collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination activities associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms supporting mission performance for land, air, sea, or space.
All non-data collection and analysis services associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms supporting mission performance for land, air, sea, or space.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned aircraft and aircraft-related systems and platforms.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned space and space-related systems and platforms.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned maritime and maritime-related systems and platforms.
Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, unmanned ground and ground related systems and platforms, and Industrial Machinery.
Development / Systems Integration
Systems integration, systems improvement, and/or systems engineering associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems and platforms that fall under one of the NAICS code exceptions for NAICS 541330 for land, air, sea, or space.
541330 Exception A/B/C
All research and development associated with manned, unmanned, optionally manned, and counter UxS systems and platforms for land, air, sea, or space.
All the programmatic services required for the successful execution of a product, program, project, or process regarding platforms, robotics, and/or systems for land, air, sea, or space.
All the training services (including flight training) required for the successful execution of a product, program, project, or process regarding platforms, robotics, and/or systems for land, air, sea, or space.
Note: You can participate in 1, many, or all pools but it seems that you need to submit a separate proposal for each pool.
GSA ASTRO is a multiple award IDIQ vehicle designed solely to meet the needs of the warfighter, scoped in close collaboration with the US Combatant Commands. Operationally, it is intended to augment DoD capabilities in a number of areas to ensure interoperability, resilience, and assurance on the modern-day battlefield. Therefore, if you are working with the DoD departments (all major commands) and/or plan to expand your market into the federal military market, GSA ASTRO is for you.
Just as a comparison mark, out of the nearly 122,000 solicitations put out by the Government in 2019 (not counting the sole sources and special sales), over 43,000 were from the DoD and its sub-agencies, which is whopping 35 percent. On the downside for smaller businesses, GSA ASTRO is no “piece of cake” as FEDSIM has made it clear that the Task Orders will all have values over $100M.
Is GSA ASTRO for Small Businesses too?
This question can be answered in two ways:
1. Contractually and Business-wise: It seems that the way FEDSIM has developed the RFP and its requirements, it is indeed a dream opportunity for small businesses because many will have significant advantages for winning on this MA-IDIQ compared with large businesses. For example, many small businesses can provide 4 contracts that they have an exceptional past performance on which is the King for scoring in GSA ASTRO.
The weight of the contract value (which is the advantage of large businesses) is low compared to other features of the contracts that small businesses can provide. In summary, we believe that small businesses have excellent chances of winning a piece of the pie in GSA ASTRO and should not be hindered by the fact that there is no set-aside track in this program.
2. Operationally: This is where Small Businesses might stager. They might get the contract but be unable to execute on the Task Orders. As mentioned in the previous section, the Task Orders are said to be over $100M each, so the prime must have the financial, managerial and experience to pull together an over $100M contract.
Our advice: For small businesses who think that they can manage a $100M project when the time comes, through support from larger firms, etc., we think this is the best opportunity to grow into the next level and have a reliable source of income for the next 10 years.
What is the Scoring System in GSA ASTRO?
GSA ASTRO is a self-scoring system similar to other GSA programs such as Alliant, VETS, OASIS, and HCaTS. The contractors must self-score themselves and then provide proof that they did it correctly, i.e., justify the scoring.
The total score for ASTRO is set to 15,000. This score depends on 3 factors:
Experience score is derived from Four (4) past performed contracts. Experience has a maximum of 6,000 points.
Past Performance score (how well you performed) is also derived from the same Four (4) past executed contracts. Past Performance also has a maximum of 6,000 points.
Other Business Factors include company credentials and certifications which gives a maximum of 3,000 points.
Therefore, as can be seen, the four projects that must be selected are of immense importance and are the main factors that derive the score.
Minimum Requirements for each of the 4 Contracts/Projects:
· Each project must be ongoing or have been completed within the past 5 years. In addition, each project must have at least six months of performance.
· Each project must have a scope of work that matches the functional definition of the Pool
· Any combination of U.S. Federal Government, U.S. State Government, International Government, International Public Sector, and Non-Government/Commercial projects can be submitted. However, a Subcontract under a U.S. Federal or State Government Prime Contract is not considered a “Commercial” project and will be rejected if submitted as a Commercial project.
An important note on Joint Ventures: If any of the 4 contracts are not in the name of the JV itself, only half the score is calculated. So if a contract receives 1500 points but is not in the name of the JV itself and was performed by one of the members, then only 750 points are accounted for that contract.
Below is the detail on how the total score is calculated:
The following table shows how the experience scores are distributed for different features of a contract:
Maximum Score Per Contract
Maximum Score for 4 Contracts
Total Value of the Contract
Multiple Locations (in performance)
Subcontracting/Teaming (at least 4)
Project includes data operations as a service
Project includes ISR services
Project includes monitoring of potentially illegal activities
Project includes data analysis
Project includes mapping services
Project includes Investigation Support
Project includes inspection services
Total Experience Score:
2. Past Performance
The following table shows how the past performance score is calculated for each contract:
Maximum Score Per Contract
Maximum Score for 4 Contracts
PPIRS/CPARS report (Exceptional Rating) or Award Fee Determination (above 91%)
Filled Past Performance Rating Form (with Exceptional Rating)
Total Past Performance Score:
3. Other Business Factors
The following table shows how the past performance score is calculated for each contract:
Government Systems Certifications
Approved Purchasing System
Current FPRA, FPRR, and/or Approved Billing Rates
Earned Value Management System
Property Management System
Material Management and Accounting System
Cost Estimating System
CMMI Maturity Level 3
CMMI Maturity Level 4
CMMI Maturity Level 5
ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management)
ISO 27001 (Information Security)
ISO 22301 (Business Continuity)
ISO 21508 (EVM)
ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental)
DoD Commercial Airlift Review Board Approval
Top Secret Facility Clearance
Operation of 1 Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF)
Operation of 2-4 Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIF)
Operation of 5 or more Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities (SCIF)
Employee Development Program
Veteran Hiring Program
Total Small Business Goals
Meets or Exceeds Corporate Small Business Goals
Small Business Goals for ASTRO Performance
Minimum to 30% of Subcontracted Dollars to SB
30% – 40% of Subcontracted Dollars to SB
40-50% of Subcontracted Dollars to SB
Total Other Business Factors Score:
Bootstrap Bonus: Under each Pool and its size standard, Offerors who are less than 10 times the applicable small business size standard (whether dollar-based or employee based) will receive bonus points based upon their total score.For example, for Pool 1, Data Operations, whose Small Business size is $16.5M, if a company’s size is between $132M and less than $165M, then it receives a 15% bonus. If the company size is over $165M, it won’t receive any bonus and also the bonus is reduced if the company size becomes smaller to a bonus of 10% for those with a company size of $16.5M. This should be leveraged well by Small Businesses and smaller large businesses to win on the ASTRO bid.
How to Prepare for GSA ASTRO
As is evident, the most critical factor in scoring is the proper selection of the 4 contracts. Large companies such as defense contractors who have a large number of contracts should start now if not already to select the best 4 out of the hundreds of projects that they have performed. Your contract manager(s) should certainly get involved. There are 15 variables involved in the selection of a contract and obviously selecting the contracts with the highest dollar amount is not going to get you on the vehicle. There is a 15-dimensional equation that needs to be solved.
The best method is to score each contract separately and then compare the final scores for the contracts. In addition, tools such as GDIC’s AI-driven Contract Selection Tool should be used when the number of contracts is over 20, when they are archives in different offices, or when you, as the GSA ASTRO Capture/Proposal Manager, do not have direct access to them and need to coordinate with others. These tools which scan through the public databases, can at times, save hundreds of hours of valuable staff time.
In summary, here are suggestions for ramping up your preparations:
Form the team comprising of the capture and proposal managers, contracts manager, subcontracts manager and any other needed staff who can dig into your performed contracts
If you have many contracts, use an AI tool, like GDIC’s Contract Selection Tool (CST) or something that you develop in-house, to search the public databases and help select some of the better scoring contracts.
Create a Scoring Sheet in which you can compare the score of different contracts to pick the best. Here at GDIC, we have a proprietary Scoring Matrix that we use for our clients, but you can develop one in-house as well.
Smaller businesses might consider creating joint ventures to increase their score.
If you have not done Self-Scoring proposals before, DO NOT try to do it yourself. Find an expert company to do it and make sure that you don’t give it to a solo consultant or one-man company. This type of proposal needs multiple sets of eyes to prepare a fully compliant product.
If you have done Self-Scoring proposals before, make sure that your proposal is reviewed by an outside firm. You don’t want to be disqualified for a small clerical mistake, nor do you want to underscore yourself. Get a team of experts to review your proposal and tell you how you can maximize your score.
What is the Procurement Timelines?
Here is the updated schedule up to the date of this white paper (February):
ASTRO is the GSA’s next major multiple award IDIQ competition. The collaboration between FEDSIM, DoD, and the industry, along with lessons learned from OASIS, has made GSA ASTRO a well-designed vehicle that provides significant value to most DoD customers. The way the evaluation system has been designed allows smaller businesses to move in and exert considerable competition for larger businesses with a high possibility of winning in many of the pools. Per our experience in previous self-scoring opportunities, this is an exercise of proper document management, proper compliance reviews and a lot of multi-dimensional equation solving. Let us know if we can help you win!
Ab Vand has more than 25 years of proposal development and capture management experience on government contracts especially in defense, services, and IT sectors. Ab has a track record of writing over 100 successful proposals for multi-million dollar contracts. Ab is currently the VP of Capture and Proposal Development at GDI Consulting, a well-established firm on proposal writing and capture management. He is also a well-respected industry analyst on the new self-scoring proposals that the government is using. Ab has written multiple articles on proposal and capture management, and regularly holds training courses for companies and individuals on ways to improve their winning chances.