The General Services Administration is accepting bids on its new multiple-award contract, ASTRO, designed to help the Defense Department develop and maintain manned and unmanned vehicles, after posting the final request for proposals on Aug. 24.
ASTRO is the focus of this week’s Top 20 Opportunities. The program consists of ten separate indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, each supporting a distinct pool of vehicle-related services, and up to 450 total awards to large, small, and mid-sized businesses. The contract represents a significant opportunity for systems integrators and defense technology companies to generate potentially billions of dollars over the next decade, according to Bloomberg Government’s analysis.
Like OASIS, also a multibillion-dollar, multiple-award contract out of GSA, ASTRO has no defined ceiling value. Instead, Defense Department users will be responsible for determining fair and reasonable pricing at the task order level. ASTRO’s complex scope and support for emerging technologies, such as unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, robotics, predictive maintenance, human-machine interfaces, will likely make it an attractive bid for hundreds of companies.
The Defense Department spends tens of billions of dollars a year on vehicle-related and IT systems-related services, everything from research and development, to systems integration, to operations and maintenance, to repairs. If ASTRO were used for even a fraction of that spending, it could represent a multibillion-dollar opportunity. Moreover, its focus on unmanned and optionally-manned systems — a market that reached $8 billion in fiscal 2019 and is growing fast — will enable contract holders to align themselves with one of the Pentagon’s top strategic technology initiatives over the next decade.
ASTRO’s ten pools will deliver a range of services supporting the Pentagon’s fleets of ground vehicles, ships, submarines, aircraft, and space vehicles:
- Data Operations – All data collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination activities associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms supporting mission performance
- Mission Operations – All non-data collection and analysis services associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned systems, robotics, and platforms supporting mission performance
- Aviation – Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned aircraft
- Ground – Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned ground vehicles and industrial machinery
- Space – Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned space platforms
- Maritime – Maintenance, repair, and overhaul of manned, optionally manned, and unmanned maritime vehicles
- Development & Systems Integration – Systems integration, systems improvement, and/or systems engineering associated with manned, unmanned, and optionally manned platforms
- Research & Development – All research and development associated with manned, unmanned, optionally manned, and counter unmanned platforms
- Support – All support services (except training) required for successful execution of a product, program, project, or process; the planning necessary to support operational missions; and the analysis of the results of an operational mission
- Training – All training services required for successful execution of a product, program, project, or process regarding platforms, robotics, and/or systems
The ASTRO proposal will consist of a self-scoring evaluation. The RFP asks bidders to identify up to four past projects showcasing their experience relevant to each pool. Vendors will then score themselves based on factors such as past project size, past performance, relevant certifications, compliance with government accounting standards, and a range of functional factors specific to each pool, according to the solicitation. For example, companies bidding on the Data Operations pool will score additional points for each of their four projects that were related to data operations as a service, surveillance and reconnaissance, geospatial mapping, investigative support, illegal activity monitoring, or inspection services.
Past performance and pool-specific functional factors are the two elements likely to be the biggest competitive differentiators on the self-evaluation. Strong past performance scores and experience with the functional factors are worth a combined 10,800 points out of a total 15,000. Therefore it’s critical that vendors select their relevant experience projects carefully.
Companies may bid on multiple pools, but must submit a self-evaluation and relevant experience projects for each one. Bidders should also note that some of the function factors in each pool have changed between the draft and final RFPs.
Bloomberg Government hosted a live webinar at the end of March discussing the ASTRO draft RFP, the scope of each of its ten pools, the contractors most likely to bid on each pool, how the government will score offerors’ bids, as well as tips for gathering past experience and assembling a bid. Subscribers can click here to download the slide presentation, or click here to listen to a replay of the webinar.
Note: The Top 20 Opportunities is a weekly column by Bloomberg Government focused on high-value contracts being competed in the federal government.
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