8(a) STARS III Contract Overview

contract vehicles Dec 08, 2021

8(a) STARS III is a Multiple Award, Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (MA-IDIQ) contract used to provide information technology (IT) services and IT service-based solutions to federal government agencies. STARS III, which stands for "Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for Services", is only awarded to Small Business Administration (SBA) certified 8(a) prime contractors including joint ventures. Download the "8(a) STARS III Directory of Awardees" here.

IN THIS POST

  • About 8(a) STARS III
  • What is bought on STARS III - the primary task areas?
  • What isn't allowed on STARS III
  • How can I get on STARS III? Onboarding?
  • Which federal agencies use STARS III - Top 10 agencies?
  • Which businesses are winning on STARS III - Top 10 firms?
  • 8(a) STARS III contract holders (firm, program manager, email, and phone).

About 8(a) STARS III

STARS III is an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved, Best-in-Class (BIC), government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) that aligns with the federal government's category management and spend under management (SUM) guidelines. STARS III has a $50 billion dollar contract ceiling and was awarded with a five-year-base through July 1, 2026, and a three-year-option that will run until July 1, 2029.

The primary North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code for STARS III is 541512. Additional IT NAICS (e.g., 541511, 541513, 541519, 518210) can be used as well others that align with other IT services.

The STARS III contract allows for buyers to procure services directly (sole source orders) under the 8(a) competitive threshold.

What can be Bought on STARS III?

Federal agency buyers can procure customized IT services and IT service-based solutions including new and emerging technologies that evolve over the life of STARS III. While task orders must be for IT services, necessary support may be included if critical to the IT services-based effort.

The Primary Task Areas Include:

  • Data Management
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • IT Operations and Maintenance
  • IT Security / IT workforce augmentation
  • Software Development
  • Systems Design

There are two scope sub-areas: IT Services performed outside of CONUS and Emerging Technology-Focused IT Services such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, Virtual Reality and others as they hit the market.

What's Not Allowed on STARS III

  1. Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)
  2. Letter Contracts
  3. Indefinite Delivery / Requirements type Orders
  4. Orders for which IT services or IT Services-based solutions are not the principal purpose
  5. All other Orders that do not fall within STARS III scope
  6. Protests under $10,000,000 (FAR 16.505(a)(10))

Will there be an Onboarding Period?

GSA has not made a firm decision or set dates for onboarding additional contractors into the STARS III contract vehicle but has left that door open.

They have stated they will periodically review the contractors still on STARS III and onboard additional firms if it will help GSA and the federal government meet their acquisition goals. If they decide to onboard, there are various approaches they can take, for example:

  • General Open Season (to add more vendors in all task areas)
  • Targeted On-Ramp (e.g., to add more OCONUS firms)
  • Adding Additional Scope Sub-Areas

Minimum Contract Sales

There is a $100,000 minimum contract sales (MCS) obligation during the first five years of the contract (base period). This means each STARS III awardee must make sales (1 or more task orders) that add up to $100,000 by July 1, 2026.

I put together "10 Tips for Getting Your First Sales on 8(a) STARS III" that will help you meet this minimum requirement. Let me know if you're interested in attending the next free webinar when I present the tips.

8(a) STARS III Pricing Tool

Take a look at this tool to find a ton of great data. You can find a breakdown of which firms can use this vehicle for emerging technology or OCONUS work. You can get labor categories (there are 124 of them) and pricing to see how you align with their rates. The Pricing Tool can be found on GSA's web site.

One interesting advancement (in my opinion) is that STARS III was written without minimum education or experience requirements for the labor categories. This allows the buyers to focus on skill sets, competencies, and responsibilities.

Which Agencies Use 8(a) STARS

Since STARS III is less than a year old, I'm using STARS II data. This is still representative of what you might see on STARS III both in agency use and small business wins. Also, I'm using FY2020 since STARS II was ending in 2021 and that year is not reflective of a normal year.

While STARS III is a government-wide, acquisition contract (GWAC) available to all federal agencies, some agencies tend to use this contract vehicle more than others. The following tables (from GSA's FAS GWAC Sales Dashboard) show the top ten federal agencies that used STARS II in FY2020: first by number of task orders and second by obligated sales:

Top 10 Agencies by Task Order

  1. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) | 77
  2. Department of Agriculture (USDA) | 75
  3. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) | 57
  4. Department of Interior (DOI) | 48
  5. Department of Defense (DoD) | 42
  6. Department of Treasury | 40
  7. Department of the Army (USA) | 35
  8. Department of the Navy (DON) | 32
  9. Department of the Air Force (USAF) | 32
  10. Department of Commerce (DOC) | 21

One interesting point is that 8(a) STARS proves out the understanding in the govcon space that contract vehicles are used heavily for end-of-year spending. The last quarter of the year had 265 out of the 598 task orders competed representing almost 50% of the obligated sales.

Top 10 Agencies by Obligated Sales

  1. Department of Defense (DoD) | $250M
  2. Department of State (DOS) | $216M
  3. Department of the Air Force (USAF) | $170M
  4. Department of Agriculture (USDA) | $167M
  5. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) | $155M
  6. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) | $152M
  7. Department of the Army (USA) | $136M
  8. Department of Treasury | $111M
  9. Department of the Navy (DON) | $79M
  10. Department of Commerce | $72M

 

Top 8(a) STARS Contract Holders

The following tables shows the top ten contract holders winning work off of STARS II in FY2020: first by number of task orders and second by obligated sales. I'll update this post with FY2022 numbers when they're available, skipping FY2021 since it's a "short" year.

Because the task orders and obligated sales don't align with each other company-wise, I'm adding in some extra data at the end of each bullet.

Top 10 Businesses by Task Order

  1. Cherokee Nation Technologies | 21 ($7M)
  2. DRT Strategies | 12 ($22M)
  3. Creative Systems and Consulting | 11 ($20M)
  4. Tuva | 10 ($8M)
  5. Telecommunication Solutions Group | 10 ($3M)
  6. DSFederal | 9 ($5M)
  7. Telesis | 8 ($40M)
  8. New Light Technologies | 8 ($7M)
  9. 22nd Century Technologies | 8 ($48M)
  10. SVD STARS II | 7 ($8M)

Top 10 Businesses by Obligated Sales

  1. 22nd Century Technologies | $48M (from 8 task orders)
  2. KCI-Acuity | $43M (from 2 task orders)
  3. Telesis | $40M (from 8 task orders)
  4. Acuity | $36M (from 0 task orders which is inaccurate)
  5. Customer Value Partners | $35M (from 2 task orders)
  6. Ace Info Solutions | $34M (from 0 task orders which is inaccurate)
  7. Techniko | $29M (from 1 task order)
  8. NetImpact Strategies | $23M (from 1 task order)
  9. MetroStar Systems | $23M (from 5 task orders)
  10. Tista Science and Technology | $23M (from 3 task orders)

8(a) STARS III Contract Holders / Awardees

There are two types of companies that have been awarded the 8(a) STARS III contract vehicle: 8(a) small businesses and 8(a) Joint Ventures. You'll find the company names, CAGE codes, and websites for each contract awardee.

Keeping this blog post somewhat manageable in size, I've created a free eBook for you to download about 8(a) STARS III. It contains all of the information in this blog and the information below about the awardees. It will also contain the name and contact information for the STARS III eligible, 8(a) small business point of contact (often the owner) and their STARS III program manager - both with phone and email addresses.

How many small businesses are on STARS III?

There are 434 8(a) small businesses or 8(a) Joint Ventures STARS III awardees / contract holders. Some also earned the right to participate in scope "sub-areas" as seen below.

  • Main Scope Area 434
  • Emerging Technology - Focused IT Services 237
  • IT Services Performed Outside of CONUS 110

 

This article was sourced through GSA and SBA publicly available content such as:

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