STARS III – THE EVOLUTION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S IT NEEDS
Changing Times Means Changing IT: General Services Administration (GSA) Shaking up the IT World
With a rapidly evolving global technological environment, the Federal Government must evolve its IT services now more than ever. As IT services and capabilities become more important in technology-driven workspaces, the General Services Administration (GSA) has turned its IT service vehicle on its head with its 8(a) Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for Services (STARS) III Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC), also known as STARS III.
GSA’s STARS III, a Multiple Award, Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (MA-IDIQ) contract, is for IT services and IT services-based solutions, falling under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 541512 – Computer Systems Design Services; however, other NAICS codes for services performed under task orders may apply beyond the overarching contract NAICS code.
GSA Provides Relief for STARS II Contractors
The vehicle predecessor, STARS II, hit its $15B ceiling this past spring – nearly a year before the ordering period end date of August 30, 2021. Fortunately for the 787 companies under the contract, GSA increased the ceiling by $7B on June 24, 2020 and rescinded the prior condition for control numbers. With the increased ceiling, orders can continue from Stars II until August 30, 2021, while orders awarded on or after July 1, 2020 under 8(a) STARS II must be completed by June 30, 2022. For those already familiar with the GSA STARS II contract, GSA STARS III contract will not seem much different; however, there are a few important differences to note:
|STARS II||STARS III|
|$22B Ceiling||$50B Ceiling|
|5-year Base, with 1, 5-year option period||5-year Base, with 1, 3-year option period|
|New Functional Areas: FA5 & FA6|
STARS III Changes and Potential Federal Spending Increases
According to Bloomberg Government, an increased ceiling and a shorter ordering period means increases in possible annual spending up to $2.5B (up from $1.5B). The biggest difference is the introduction of two new functional areas for STARS III: FA5: Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services and FA6: Emerging Technology-focused IT services.
|Functional Area (FA)||Example FA Requirements||NAICS||Size Standard|
|FA 1: Custom Computer Programming Services||Custom software development, web design||541511||$30 million|
|FA 2: Computer Systems Design Services||Computer systems integration design consulting services, local area network computer systems integration design services||541512||$30 million|
|FA 3: Computer Facilities Management Services||Computer systems and data processing facilities management and operation services||541513||$30 million|
|FA 4: Other Computer Related Services||Computer disaster recovery services, software installation services||541519||$30 million
(150 employees for value-added resellers)
|FA 5: Data processing, hosting, and related services||Application hosting, computer data storage services||518210||$30 million|
|FA 6: Emerging technology-focused IT services||Edge computing, quantum computing, robotic process automation||541512||$30 million|
STARS III – Taking Us to the Unfamiliar with ET and OCONUS Performance
STARS III also includes two sub areas: ET and Outside the Contiguous United States (OCONUS). The STARS III scope indicates that a task order request (TOR) falls under ET if it is for service-based solutions with an IT-focus. But what is ET? GSA defines ET as “technology innovation to securely accelerate transformation and advance mission outcomes.” GSA encourages agencies to use a statement of objective approach when it comes to considering ET. Subsequently, agencies should consider how newly developed technologies can resolve the agency’s everyday problems.
For further clarification, GSA identifies examples of ETs as:
- Artificial Intelligence (including Machine Learning, Deep Learning/Neural Networks, Natural Language Generation)
- Autonomic Computing
- Blockchain / Distributed Ledger
- Quantum Computing
- Robotic Process Automation
- Technological Convergence
- Virtual Reality (including Augmented Reality, Extended Reality, and Mixed Reality)
The Competitive Landscape for STARS III
Eligible contractors may be speculating what the competitive field is like for an award under this newest GSA vehicle. To delve into the potential competition, vendors may review an analysis of the current STARS II data. Two key takeaways from the historical use of the STARS II contract to consider:
- Stars II obligations reported $10.3B by agencies as of June 2020; however, the Department of Defense reported contract obligations on a 90-day basis for national security reasons – so this is an underestimate.
- Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the use of Stars II has proliferated.
The 8(a) STARS II vehicle has seen more than 5,400 task orders and $10 billion in total obligations since 2011. With GSA obligations for Fiscal Year 2020 at $770M to-date and Fourth Quarter obligations still awaiting reporting, it is anticipated that the total spending on STARS II will see a much higher increase. While exact numbers cannot be determined, Bloomberg Government anticipates many task orders will be awarded leading up to the close of Fiscal Year 2020.
Careful Considerations for STARS III
An interesting point to consider is how the Federal Government will leverage STARS III when it comes to ETs. WBD anticipates that the IT services space could see companies working to redefine how their IT services can transform offer solutions to the adapting IT issues of the Federal Government. With a constantly adapting IT landscape and the related issues agencies face as a result of transforming technology, STARS III appears to be a potential platform for ET services to the Federal Government.
WBD provides ETs and services through our artificial intelligence (AI) services and uniquely created technological tools and services for our Government agencies. We are a company dedicated to the betterment of the IT landscape as well as the investment of tomorrow’s technology. Check out our digital service offerings and how we are constantly evolving our services to meet our customers’ changing needs.