Come Together: DISA, GSA Streamline $5B Commercial SATCOM Procurement
A 2004 study by the Satellite Industry Association found that 80% of all US military satellite communication during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq was carried on commercial satellites. Then-US assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, John P. Stenbit, estimated that the US military purchased between $200 million and $300 million worth of commercial satellite services during the first year of the war.
Commercial satellite providers remain a mainstay of the US Department of Defense’s satellite communications capability. To streamline the process for the US military and US federal government agencies to lease communications satellite capacity from commercial providers, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) undertook an effort in 2009 to combine the commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) service contracts for the US military and US civilan government agencies into a 10-year, $5 billion contract vehicle…
The contract, called the Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA), combines GSA’s SATCOM II and DISA’s Inmarsat and DISN Satellite Transmission Services-Global (DSTS-G) contracts and creates a common marketplace for the US government to acquire satellite capacity. SATCOM II is set to expire in May 2010; DSTS-G, in February 2011; and Inmarsat, in June 2012. The 3 contracts will be rolled into the FCSA.
Through the combined FCSA contract, the US federal government will be able to lease commercial satellite communications capacity for US troops, disaster recovery teams, domestic emergency responders, distance learning and remote access to global government networks.
DISA describes the new FCSA contract process:
“DISA and GSA will execute an acquisition strategy that combines the use of the existing Information Technology 70 Federal Supply Schedule, refreshed to add specific special item numbers for transponded capacity and subscription services; and, two multiple award, IDIQ contracts for end-to-end solutions. Using a multi-tier competition model throughout, vendors will initially compete for Schedule and IDIQ awards, and will subsequently compete for task order awards on a requirement-by-requirement basis. The IDIQ contracts will be performance-based, utilizing the standard industry model to maximize performance, and both large and small business will be afforded ample opportunities to compete in all services areas.”
According to a Feb 17/10 announcement, DISA and GSA have begun the IT 70 Federal Supply Schedule refresh that includes the 2 new special item numbers for COMSATCOM services: transponded capacity and subscription services. FedBizOpps link
A GSA spokesman details the process following the refresh:
“For the ID/IQ part of FCSA there will be 2 solicitations. One for full and open requirements inviting both large and small business offerors and the second as a small business set-aside. Drafts for each are to be released for industry comment late next month (March 2010), with the final RFPs expected to be released during the summer 2010. Interested offerors will respond to GSA with a proposal submittal per the instructions in those final RFPs. Awards are planned by 4Q FY 2011.
Each ID/IQ contract awarded will be for 3 base years with two 1-year options, for a total of 5 years. The program ceiling for both ID/IQ contracts will be shared as part of the draft packages to be posted next month (March 2010). The $5 billion over 10 years is an estimate of expected value of the entire program which includes all Schedule 70 and ID/IQ contracts.”
The FCSA approach enables the federal government to:
- merge parallel and redundant efforts into a single acquisition with costs shared between agencies;
- share technical and contracting expertise between agencies;
- create a common marketplace for federal COMSATCOM requirements;
- utilize the GSA schedules for government-wide commercial satellite communications services; and
- satisfy national protection requirements.
The DISA/GSA approach divides the federal government COMSATCOM market into 3 segments; vendors can compete in each of these market segments.
- Transponded capacity: Dedicated bandwidth on a commercial satellite in any commercially available frequency band, including L-, S-, C-, X-, Ku-, and Ka-band (satellite bandwidth and power only).
- Subscription Services: Pre-existing, pre-engineered fixed satellite service (FSS) or mobile satellite service (MSS), including terminals, in any commercial frequency band. Subscription services utilize vendor-defined or selected waveforms and are billed on a per-use basis (e.g., dollars per minute, dollars per megabyte, dollars per month); and
- End-to-End Solutions: This includes bandwidth using FSS components, MSS components, or a hybrid consisting of both FSS and MSS components; this segment may also include terminals, teleport, and terrestrial tail circuits.
Additional Readings and Sources
- GSA – Future COMSAT Services Acquisition
- GSA – FCSA Acquisition Strategy Highlights
- DISA – COMSATCOM Scoop newsletter
- Defense Systems (Feb 18/10) – GSA, DISA launch commercial satellite solicitation
- Washington Technology (Feb 8/10) – GSA, DISA ready $5B satellite opportunity
- Washington Technology (Oct 23/09) – $5B SatCom may augur DISA-GSA deals to come
- DISA/GSA (Oct 22/09) – FCSA Schedule 70 Industry Day briefing
- DISA (September 2009) – DISA and GSA Ink Long-Term Partnership on Commercial Satellite Communications Services
- DISA/GSA (Aug 6/09) – Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition: Acqusitions Strategy Announcement [pdf]
- GSA/DISA (Aug 6/09) – GSA and DISA Form Satellite Communications Partnership