One Colorado Springs defense contractor took an unusual approach when it was not chosen to be a prime contractor under the OASIS vehicle.
When Apogee Engineering didn’t meet the government’s criteria, it was a big surprise.
“We were caught off guard,” said CEO Wes Georges. “We applied for it, and we didn’t make it through the process.”
OASIS is government-speak for “One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services,” a 2½-year-old method of deciding who can bid on federal contracts in all areas of the federal government. The OASIS contract for small businesses works like this: Businesses apply and if they meet government standards, they can bid as prime contractors for future government work. If they don’t obtain approval, they are locked out of the bidding process.
Andy Merritt, chief defense officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, said the move to OASIS is a problem for many local companies.
“I know from talking to companies here locally that this whole OASIS contract is a huge issue,” Merritt said. “Having companies that are able to prime under it, under all the different categories, is important to us, because the work would go somewhere else otherwise.”
But Apogee wasn’t stalled for long. It examined its options, one of which was accepting a subcontractor position for work that it’s been doing for years. But then the company came up with another: buying a prime contract.
Apogee’s expertise falls under OASIS pool one, which houses engineering services, weapon systems and cybersecurity. It’s where the government is spending most of its money, Georges said.
“We didn’t want to act as a sub on contracts that we held as prime before — that means half your business goes to the prime,” Georges said. “So we set Bobby up to find a solution.”
Bob Veazey is director of business development at Apogee. His job was to find a company approved under the OASIS contract that wasn’t using the vehicle.
Georges explains it like this: “They are sitting on a gold mine, and they know it. But they don’t have any intention of digging in the ground to get the gold. We have that intention and that expertise.”
Of the 43 companies approved for OASIS contracts in pool one, Veazey contacted 25. Some didn’t respond; some declined the invitation to partner. But one California company agreed to the “novation contract,” essentially a contract to replace a party to an agreement with a new party. Terms of the purchase weren’t made public.
In other words, Georges said, Apogee bought out the California company’s prime OASIS contract for pool one.
“It’s rare,” Veazey said. “I found three instances that this has been done under OASIS.”
Essentially, it’s a partnership: Apogee will be listed as an OASIS contractor sometime in the next few weeks, and the two companies will partner on bids, giving both of them wider expertise. The government was actually helpful with the process, Veazey said.
“They are doing a lot of things we aren’t,” he said. “They were involved [using OASIS] with the Department of Labor, the Department of Energy — they weren’t using the DoD side at all.”
But that’s the side Apogee was involved with — the company has local contracts with the Air Force Academy, NORAD at Peterson Air Force Base and the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, as well as a host of DoD contracts across the country.
“The DoD has indicated it will spend about $400 million on OASIS this year,” Georges said. “They’ve moved more and more to OASIS as a contract vehicle.”
The top 10 contract holders under OASIS have contracts around $20 million each, he said.
“It’s going to keep us in business,” Georges said. “And now, we’re looking for partners. We want to keep jobs here,” he said. “We want to make sure those jobs stay here — not just our employees, but other companies too.”
Merritt said the prime contract was important not only to Apogee, but also to the rest of the defense contracting community.
“It’s an opportunity to grow,” he said. “The more work they win with OASIS, we have the opportunity to increase the labor pool. And if a small business headquartered here is a prime contractor, it’s a signal of the strength and health of our defense sector. Those small businesses are very innovative, very competitive.”
Delta Solutions & Strategies is the only other local company with a prime contract. It operates in pool tow, which covers financial services and accounting.
Apogee has advisory and assistance contracts with the Army and Air Force, but also has expertise in weapon systems, cybersecurity and engineering. For information about partnering with the local firm, go to Apogee’s website at apogeeengineering.net.
(Editor’s note: Amy G. Sweet worked as a contractor for Apogee Engineering from 2013 to 2015.)