If you pursued the Department of Commerce (DOC) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAALink program — whether successfully or unsuccessfully over the course of its nine-year acquisition history, be aware that NOAALink 2.0 has been laid to rest.

At the Aug. 30 NOAALink Executive Industry Council Quarterly Meeting, the agency announced the birth of a new, multiple-award, 10-year IDIQ vehicle, NOAA Enterprise and Mission IT Services (NEMITS), to replace the existing NOAALink contract as well as the originally proposed NOAALink 2.0.

Deltek has identified this $2.5 billion-plus IDIQ as a top 10 small business opportunity for FY18. NOAA is currently reviewing responses to a June Strategic Sourcing Acquisition Division (SSAD) request for information (RFI) issued on behalf of the chief information officer (CIO) and conducting outreach to agency program offices to finalize requirements.

Current status of NOAALink

The NOAALink Core IDIQ has been a highly successful vehicle for DOC enterprisewide IT services. The Core Management Components include Customer Care, Infrastructure Management, Business Management, and Information Security and Risk Management.

The agency awarded more than 1,800 task orders to the SB and 8(a) contract holders totaling more than $700 million to date. Note that the strategic management services (SMS) component is a separate service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) $49 million award under GSA IT Schedule 70.

The NOAALink Core IDIQ has been so successful that many of the original awardees have outgrown the size standard and/or are no longer 8(a). NOAA conducted an on-ramp of additional small businesses last January, adding Synaptek Corporation, GAMA-1 Technologies, Reston Consulting Group and SM Resources Corporation to the vehicle on Dec. 30, 2016. All NOAALink contracts expire in 2020.

Despite originally planning to release an 8(a) NOAALink on-ramp RFP in August 2016, NOAA announced that this requirement would be part of the new acquisition strategy. In the meantime, with original awardees graduated and the 8(a) $300 million ceiling nearly met, the agency has stated they will use other existing 8(a) vehicles as a placeholder. However, they also noted that the existing 8(a) requirement will remain 8(a) when recompeted under NEMITS.

Also of note, NOAA has no plans to include an Unrestricted Track in the NEMITS acquisition. Under NOAALink, the agency had issued an Unrestricted RFP but never awarded any contracts.

The future of NEMITS

NEMITS will eventually replace NOAALink and include wider scope, encompassing both the Core and SMS requirements. It will be competed under the 541519 Other Computer Related Services NAICS with a size standard of $27.5 million.

NOAA conducted outreach and gathered requirements from program offices for IT and SMS requirements. Currently, the award date will likely be in 2019, with a period of performance from date of award through 2030.

We can expect another update from the Executive Council on Oct. 19, which should give additional clarity on scope and acquisition timeline. In the meantime, interested small businesses and 8(a)s should increase capture efforts such as teaming, and large businesses interested in NOAA IT work should be actively pursuing SB and 8(a) primes.