Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Commercial vs Non-Commercial IT Services

I agree that relying on industry to tell us whether a service is commercial or non-commercial is risky considering the balance of leverage seems to shift in favor of the contractor with commercial and in favor of the Government if non-commercial. We received two responses:

Contractor A’s Response

Contractor A, an incumbent supporting the program, argues that the services being developed are not commercial items. According to them, there are several aspects of the data infrastructure being developed that have never been done before and do not have a standard schedule pricing. They mention that some facets of the data infrastructure are pushing the limits of the open-source graph database, extending and creating new capabilities. They believe that these types of services cannot be acquired as commercial items.

Contractor B’s Response

Contractor B, not an incumbent but a witness to a summary of the description of work, states that the services being procured to support the program are indeed commercial services. They refer to the description that states the contractor shall use the Government-provided virtual environment, including development workstations, testing, and production. The “virtual environments” listed are arguably commercially available items since they are not exclusive to Government use. Additionally, these virtual environments and their tools reside in AWS, which is available for both governmental and non-governmental entities. Contractor B believes that despite the modifications tailored for Government use, there can be minor alterations as long as they don’t significantly change the essential characteristics of an item.

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Contractor B further suggests that CIO-SP3, with its scope covering all things IT and its rigorous requirements, would be a better vehicle to support the requirement. They explain that CIO-SP3 allows for all order types, inclusion of unique professional skills, as well as out of scope services to be added at the task order level. According to Contractor B, the specialized nature of the labor categories makes CIO-SP3 a better fit. They recommend considering CIO-SP3 to eliminate the need for mapping skills to existing labor categories on GSA MAS or the standard CIO-SP3 labor categories, which may not be the best fit.

The last sentence of Contractor B’s response seems to contradict their conclusion that it would be commercial, as they mention that they are not familiar with any IT labor category that is not available in the commercial world. This suggests that no IT service should ever be purchased using non-commercial procedures.

Despite my request for technical verification, I believe that the decision has already been made by higher-level reviewers for this requirement.

Commercial vs Non-Commercial IT Services

In conclusion, the debate between commercial and non-commercial IT services is complex. Both contractors present valid arguments based on the nature of the services being developed and the availability of IT labor categories in the commercial sector. Ultimately, the decision on whether to procure these services as commercial or non-commercial will depend on higher-level reviewers who weigh the differences and make the final determination.