ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT USE OF SINGLE AWARD CONTRACTS IS ON THE RISE
Whether it’s NASA announcing a new cyber and personal security contract, DISA’s new DES contract, JEDI, or even two new projects at the IRS, there seems to be a trend back to single award contracts, at least for large government projects. Single award contracts were the predominate contracting method until the mid-1990’s when the use of multiple award IDIQ contracts proliferated. The idea was to drive better solutions through consistent competition among qualified companies. Further, both legislative and regulatory requirements limit the use of “contract bundling” to roll multiple needs into one large vehicle, thus making it more difficult for small businesses to participate. The Biden Administration has indicated that it wants to further strengthen such prohibitions. In the meantime, though, at least some agencies are reverting back to large, “winner take all” procurements. The premise may be that it is easier to manage one contract and contractor, especially for enterprise-wide requirements. Assuring a common security posture may be a specific driver. One thing that such contract vehicles also ensure, however, is protests. Protesting to try and get your company another look is a minor incremental expense when a company spends upwards of seven figures in bid and proposal costs and knows they’re either going to be “in” or “out”. Contractors may need to adjust their overall approach to federal business if single award contracts increase in popularity. Establishing relationships with key customer contacts as early as possible will be especially critical. So, too, will be the ability to suggest acquisition provisions that could give the company an edge when an RFP or RFQ hits the street. It’s too early to tell whether single award contracting will spread to more and smaller projects, but it is not too early to be prepared if it does.