Much has been written about GWACs over the past few years, both collectively and as individual contracts. In the fall of 2016, Bloomberg Government (BGov) released a study stating GWACs hit a record $10 billion in 2016.
I agree it was a record year, but my tally shows about $15 billion. I got my data from the GSA GWAC dashboard, a call to the SEWP office and from having worked with NITAAC most of FY 2016. GSAs combined GWACs are nearly $6.2 billion, NITAACs 3 GWACs almost $5 billion, and SEWP came in at about $4 billion.
Regardless of the actual total, GWAC the dollars and growth are real. Everett Dirkson would be impressed, because now we’re talking real money.
So overall a good year across the board for the eight GWACs. But before we proceed, here’s…
A Brief History of GWACs
As things go in GovCon, GWACs are a relatively new contracting method, the first being SEWP, a pilot GWAC awarded in November 1992, but the awards were delayed due to the Presidential transition until Feb 1993. This was a primarily single award contract, with one category having more than one awardee.
It was awarded as the pilot GWAC (a test case) under GSA delegation of procurement authority; Clinger-Cohen created the official Executive Agent designation for GWACs under OMB.
The second GWAC came in 1996, the HHS/NIH contract, ECS, was the first multiple-award GWAC that got significant traction for small businesses. ECS was awarded to three large companies, seven small companies and seven 8(a)s, and according the Federal Computer Week from a1996 article, the smalls did pretty well.
SEWP I offered a category for multiple awards, but it was not until SEWP II that the MAC version was more fully implemented.
In the late 1990s there were several agencies trying to launch GWAC experiments, including Commerce, Transportation and Interior. They soon found that the successful management of a GWAC was not simple. Commerce punted COMMITS to GSA and to the best of my recollection, the others just folded up and went away.
So in the early 2000s, three agencies emerged from the quagmire with viable vehicles: NASA, NIH and GSA.
In the summer of 2006 I interviewed Max Peterson about selling to the government. In a four hour CD interview one of many stand-out quotes was as VP of Sales for CWD-G, his team had the “IT product trifecta: SEWP, ECS and GSA Schedule 70.” This, he said, covered all the agency bases.
Fast forward to today 25 years later, and there are still only three agencies authorized by OMB to award GWACS: GSA, HHS/NIH (NITAAC), and NASA. GSA contracts are Alliant II, Alliant II Small Business, 8(a) STARS II, and VETS. NITAAC contracts are CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small business, and CIO-CS (formerly ECS). NASAs contract is SEWP V.
Eight GWACs and billions of bucks.
Back to the Present
Why the seemingly “sudden” growth in the popularity of GWACs? There are several factors.