FAA awards $1.25b in contracts to small businesses

The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded 14 contracts worth $1.25 billion
jointly for services ranging from help desk to investment analysis support.


The Broad Information Technology Services contracts are the largest ever awarded to
small and disadvantaged businesses, an FAA official said.


“There was some criticism that FAA was not doing anything for small and
disadvantaged businesses, many of which are high-tech,’’ said Jack Handrahan, an
FAA contracting officer. “We wanted to do something to give small businesses a
shot.’’


The BITS contracts are five-year, performance-based contracts.


The initial value of each contract is $25 million to $50 million, with each one having
the potential to double, based on satisfactory performance, he said.


“We decided on BITS in February because we wanted to keep money in the
small-business community,’’ Handrahan said. “The big boys don’t play
in this game. They get their fair share of contracts, but they don’t need them as
much as small and disadvantaged businesses.’’


To compete for a BITS contract, companies were required to have earned $10 million in
the past three years, employ at least 100 people and show expertise in one of four areas:
systems management and support, mainframe maintenance, engineering and design, or
security, Handrahan said.


FAA received 26 proposals Aug. 6. Seven of the winning companies participate in the
8(a) program, Handrahan said.


The agency’s Acquisition Management System, a series of procurement reforms made
in 1996, made it possible to award the BITS contracts in less than three months, Handrahan
said. Without AMS, the bidding process could have lasted 15 months, he said.


FAA officials also met with the losing companies to explain why their bids were turned
down, he said.


“We want to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes again,’’
Handrahan said. “We want to help them get the contract the next time.’’


Universal Systems & Technology Inc., a 230-employee company in Fairfax, Va., was
among the winning companies. Unitech will provide engineering support, software
development, database administration, data processing and network support.


“The contract gives us a five-year window to continue to grow our
business,’’ said Becky Umbaugh, director of business development in
Unitech’s Washington office. “We already have three contracts with FAA, two in
telecommunications, one in air traffic control. We are thrilled to continue working with
FAA.’’


FAA makes up about 30 percent of Unitech’s business, Umbaugh said.


“We’re extremely proud of this effort in that it meets the needs of both FAA
and firms that may not have had the chance to compete for these contracts
otherwise,’’ FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey said. “These companies bring
superior talent and resources to FAA.’’    

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