GSA's OASIS Plus: Don’t Lose Time, Start Preparing NOW!
With a budget of over $60 Billion, GSA’s OASIS Plus is in the pre-solicitation phase. Many companies are waiting for the full RFP to be issued and all the ambiguities to be cleared before committing to preparing their proposal. This approach is WRONG.
I have managed and supervised over 140 self-scoring proposals during the past few years since the inception of these types of RFPs from Alliant and VETS2 to OASIS, HCaTS, and ASTRO. I have done it for some of the top 10 Defense Contractors down to very small businesses. Unfortunately, companies large and small make the mistake of not using the interim time to prepare themselves. In this article, I have pointed out some crucial tasks you can partake in before the final pre-solicitation or the full RFP is out, and show you why you must start preparing now for OASIS Plus.
It might seem trivial, but I have faced many instances where companies waited for the RFP to be out only to find out that they had administrative shortcomings on the contracts and there was no time to rectify them. Here are some examples:
a. Contract Signatures – As trivial as it may sound, many contracts do not have the proper signature of the contracting officer on them. You need to hunt down the said officer or their replacement and get the document signed properly; otherwise, you CAN NOT use that contract in OASIS Plus.
b. Contract NAICS Designation – I have often encountered clients whose contracts, despite being in the proper category/domain, do not have the correct NAICS code on the contract document or the Government’s FPDS-NG website. Trying to resolve this takes quite a long time, and you need to start on that immediately.
c. CPARS Reports – Contracts often have an interim CPARS report available, but the contracting officer has not issued the final CPARS report. In these cases, you need to chase the contracting office or ACO to get the final CPARS issued and uploaded, which certainly takes time. Also, sometimes, there isn’t a CPARS issued at all, interim or final, and you need to follow up with the said contracting office to get it issued and ensure that they give you excellent ratings.
d. Document Management – My experience working with large companies is that document management is sometimes done at local branch offices and through local Contract Managers or Program Managers. You often need to spend much time compiling all the documents from different locations and people. If that is the case with you, start working on it now.
e. Personnel & Subcontractor Information – You get scoring based on the number of FTEs used in the contracts. In addition, if there was a surge phase in the project and you needed to increase the staff, again, you can use that to get higher scores. You also get a bonus if five or more employees on a contract had a security clearance. On the other hand, if you have contracts that employed three or more first-tier subs, you can get a score. You know that some of these cases are true for you but do you have the documentation to prove it? Use this time to hunt down the documents.
f. Scope Information – Especially for commercial projects, when there is no proof of NAICS, you need to show the scope and domain of the project by citing sections from the Statement of Work. Unfortunately, many commercial contract documents do not spell out a very clear and detailed project explanation. In these cases, you need to reach out to the owner and ask them to provide clear explanations that can be used as proof of the domain area.
2. Government Approved Systems, Rates, Clearances
You can get extra credit if you have one or more of the below capabilities (the scoring system differs slightly per domain). Use the time available to get those you have already applied for and need to push for it, or those you can go after if you start now. In addition, make sure that the documentation is complete. Here is a list:
- Approved Accounting System
- Approved Forward Pricing/Billing Rates)
- Acceptable Purchasing System
- Acceptable Estimating System
- Material Management and Accounting System
- Property Management System
- Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) - Level 2 or higher
- Different ISO Certifications
- Facility Clearance (Secret/Top Secret)
Even though the final RFP is not out yet and the GSA policy on partnering is not final, there seems to be a high chance that they will allow partnering in the form of CTAs and Joint Ventures to participate. It would be prudent for all companies to ensure that they have possible partners in their bag in case they need to boost their scores through partner scores. Now is the time to reach out and find your needed partners.
Many other areas need to be covered, but I have refrained from delving into them to keep this post short.
5. MOST IMPORTANT - Score Assessment and Qualification
Unlike all previous self-scoring RFPs in which you needed no minimum score to be eligible, GSA has decided to set a minimum score for OASIS Plus per each domain. This means that without doing a full qualification and optimization of the scoring, a go/no-go is incomplete. And doing a full qualification check and optimization of the scoring is more than 50% of the overall proposal development. So you need to start this step now.
Summary & Recommendation
The message I want to convey is that specifically because of this minimum score threshold, your company MUST start its full assessment and qualification for OASIS Plus NOW. This will help you:
- See if you can participate and have the minimum score,
- Realize and alleviate your documentation shortcomings as well as the work needed toward possible certifications, and
- Assess if they need partnering and in which areas.
At GDIC, we have already started the qualification assessment process for 14 of our clients (4 large and ten small companies) at this time and have reached out to others to encourage them to start the process as soon as possible.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of using this grace period and start preparing now for OASIS Plus.