By Global Services on May 29, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, the US remains especially hard-hit: with over 1.6M confirmed cases according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 dashboard, the US continues to suffer the most confirmed cases of any country worldwide.
Many contractors are eager to do their part to support the Federal response. But with so many agencies fighting the virus on so many different fronts, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In this post we’d like to highlight some high-level trends in Federal contracts for COVID-19 support, made possible by data gathered by our friends at The Pulse of GovCon.
The data analyzed were obtained from the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation (FPDS-NG), and researchers at the Pulse note that it likely represents only a portion of the work awarded to date. Since many contracting offices do not have access to their normal resources, and/or are facing increased workloads due to the pandemic, it’s likely that the FPDS-NG data are not as up-to-date as they ordinarily would be. In other words, the overall contract spend on fighting the pandemic is probably higher than FPDS-NG data would indicate.
Even with that caveat, the data is revealing.
Which agencies are making the most use of federal contracts to fight the pandemic?
Not surprisingly given its mission, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is at the forefront, with 55% of federal obligations in support of COVID-19 requirements accounted for by HHS. After HHS, the remaining obligations are under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at 15%, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at 12%, and the Department of Defense (DOD) at 7%. The remaining 11% is distributed among other agencies.
How many COVID-19 requirements are being addressed through competitive contracts?
Given the unique urgency of these requirements, we’d expect to see a significant number of direct awards. The data backs this up, with 51% of obligations being awarded without competition. Even so, competition is still relatively high, with 44% awarded via Full and Open or Full and Open After Exclusion of Sources competitions.
Which set-asides contracts are being used?
The vast majority of obligations are not set aside (over $7B). Where set-asides have been used, the most popular have been:
- Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Set-Aside: $140M+
- Small Business (SB) Set-Aside: $67M+
- 8(a) Sole Source: $33M+
- 8(a) Competed: $29M+
- SDVOSB Sole Source: $20M+
- Woman Owned Small Business Set-Aside: $6M+.
Which contract types are being used?
The majority of dollars are going to individual Purchase Orders – these account for over $7.3B spent. Indefinite Delivery Contracts (IDCs), Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), and Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACS) are nonetheless playing a significant role, with over $2B going to IDCs, over $180M to BPAs, and over $138M to GWACs.
Finally, the GSA Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) are being used extensively, with over $515M in COVID-19 spending taking place through the Schedules. Given the popularity and extensive scope of the Schedules, it’s not surprising that the Schedules alone account for such a large portion of money spent.
It’s encouraging to see that IDCs, BPAs, GWACs, and the Schedules are working as intended: allowing rapid purchasing from pre-vetted contractors in order to procure needed goods and services as quickly as possible.
Which contract vehicles are being used most?
Where purchases have been made using large, preexisting contracting vehicles other than the very popular Federal Supply Schedules (that is, looking at IDCs, BPAs, and GWACS only), NASA’s SEWP V contract has seen by far the heaviest use. This vehicle is designed for acquiring IT solutions, including essential tools like laptops. While the raw data doesn’t indicate why any one vehicle is being used, it seems likely that as the pandemic has forced agencies to switch to telework, they’ve turned to SEWP V to procure the necessary technology for this new normal.
After SEWP V, NITAAC’s CIO-CS and CIO-SP3 SB vehicles and VA’s T4NG vehicle – all of them focused on IT – have seen the most individual use. Other contracting vehicles account for the remaining 25% spent via IDCs, BPAs, and GWACs.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the safety of American citizens and the stability of our economy, the data shows that Federal agencies are stepping up to fulfill procurement obligations, and are able to do so with the help of their industry partners. It is essential that members of the GovCon community continue to work with their partners in industry and government to stay afloat during these troubling times.
If you are looking to boost your BD experience with Deliverable-Based Market Research & Competitive Intelligence, please reach out to our friends at The Pulse of GovCon for assistance. If your team needs help compiling a compliant and winning bid, please reach out to the Global Services’ Proposal Development team today!
About The Pulse of GovCon
The Pulse of GovCon (The Pulse) is a boutique marketing intelligence firm that specializes in GovCon storytelling. The Pulse connects historical program data to the current procurement landscape and delivers succinct, editorial insight and contractual data required to optimize your BD engine. The Pulse team does not just pontificate based on the rhetoric – they make real, consciously human interpretations so that you can bid with intent. The Pulse team has over 20 years of combined experience serving members of the GovCon community with Deliverable-Based Market Research & Competitive Analysis, Opportunity-Specific Capture & Solution Development, General Capture & Proposal Advisory, Internal Process Improvement for BD & Proposal Engines, Government Contracting Training, and Membership Perks. For BD guidance, without the BS, reach out to the experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.