This is the artist formerly known as Democratic, Responsive and Accountable Governance (DRAGON) which has been moving oh so very slowly for a number of years. Alas, USAID is getting closer to release it as a real RFP before FY2017 is over. For all of you that have been tracking, forgotten, tracking some more, and forgotten USAID ACES again…it’s time to dust off your capture plans (or better yet start one up)…the RFP is moving to the visible horizon. We’ve had some sources confirm this is getting ever closer and we know that a related Analytical Services contract precedes this; that long-awaited beast emerged on March 24, 2017.
Before you delve any further into this blog it’s important for you to understand the method to our madness. Why are we writing this material?! FedSavvy Strategy writes these blogs to educate the reader. We’re not interested in an empty pitch. We believe it is better to show you value before we even speak. Why? That’s part of our philosophy of doing business. We always want to add value to your business. That’s the nature of a consulting business, right? Anyway, on to the blog!
What does USAID ACES represent?
ACES is an omnibus IDIQ mechanism out of USAID’s Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) Bureau, which will serve over 100 country and regional missions globally. With a $500M ceiling, this mechanism will give IDIQ holders will have access to all Task Orders—many of which are cross-cutting governance activities that will allow contractors to gain new past performance in adjacent sectors and regions.
What will USAID ACES do?
Until we have a true draft SOW, the best resource to reference for USAID’s ACES plans is both the current forecast item and the 2014 draft for what ACES is based on that for DRAGON. The summary provided by USAID in their procurement forecast gives us a succinct description the contract’s mission, so note the below:
The purpose of this award is to provide technical assistance and advisory services, training, and direct program implementation to support good governance, transparency, and accountability in host countries.
This award is designed to foster greater accountability of institutions and leaders to citizens and to the law by strengthening linkages among government actors and enhancing state institutions accountability to citizens.
The activities implemented under this award will contribute directly to the achievement of the overarching goal of USAID’s Strategy on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, which is to support the establishment and consolidation of inclusive and accountable democracies to advance freedom and development.
This award will enable Missions which issue task orders under it to select from a range of programming options. In addition, the award will enable USAID and the U.S. Government (USG) to respond rapidly to windows of opportunity for governance in countries undergoing transition.
Highlights on USAID ACES Requirements
- Support reform and institutional strengthening
- Enable participation and inclusion to empower reformers and citizens
- Support efforts for accountability of government
- Promote rule of law through support of judicial reform
- Strengthen independent media, private sector oversight to counter corruption
- Enhance country based systems for key services and well-being such as agriculture, climate change, economic growth, education and health
- Provide technical assistance and training to support development
- Quick response support for political crises, transitions of power, election problems
- Strategies for fund raising
- Transparency in public administration
The bottom line is to promote development and enhancements to public financial, administrative and regulatory capabilities for effective governance.
We need to be fully sober about the U.S. Government budgetary trends. Beyond acknowledging the posture of the current presidential administration, the
The budget released in May 2017 confirms how USAID is being re-shaped by this administration. Collectively, we’re looking at a 28% decrease in overall agency funding. If anyone had any illusions about a significantly growing market, you’re going to need to recalibrate your view on reality. However, we’re going to hazard a guess that you don’t do this work to fly around in your private jet…it’s about making a difference (but not going into the poor house in the process).
Remember a comment made earlier about the USAID contractor landscape changing. This isn’t a shocking statement by any measure. However, the large business competitive field is more crowded than before and the small business competitive field is more open. Oh yes, and this is a small business reserve meaning USAID will award contracts to large and small businesses. Regardless, any competitor has to give significant thought to decide whether or not ACES makes sense. I’ll paraphrase a line from a favorite show/book of mine and one if it’s most intriguing characters…”Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.” Consider that as you look at an opportunity such as ACES.
If you’re a large business…can you monetize this contract vehicle? Inevitably, businesses feel compelled to bid on IDIQs under the fear of exclusion from future opportunities. We’ve all been there. However, are you built to make the vehicle worthwhile? If not and there are too many other more meaningful opportunities in your pipeline… it’s OK to walk away.
Conversely, the current crop of small businesses may just be a short list. This opens up some room for potential outsiders to attempt to break into USAID. Alternatively, some USAID staple small businesses can use this chance as to grow.
- A September 2017 RFP release looks very possible
- You either need to update your capture plan or you had better build one really, really quickly
- USAID ACES offers a diverse set of contracting opportunities that could very well bolster your long-term past performance
- Several previously strong small business contenders for USAID ACES are not a small business anymore…are you in the new generation of USAID small businesses?
- A number of firms that had joined small business contenders (several of which have outgrown the size standard) are now without a small business prime, leaving some good players on the field to be picked up by this new generation of small business contenders on ACES
- USAID ACES will be a broadly defined and broadly reaching IDIQ contract… this is a license to grow inside USAID
Keep tuned to USAID (and FedSavvy Strategies) to learn more about the opportunity as we unpack it for you. The next blog focuses on breaking down the competitive field. If you want to discuss this further, just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay focused. Do your capture homework. There are some great opportunities out there. Good hunting!
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