Officials for a government contracting program some blame for the loss of hundreds of jobs in Warner Robins said opportunities are coming that will allow many more small businesses to participate.
“We are going to be dramatically increasing the size of our small business pool,” said Clint McCoy, a program manager for One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services, or OASIS. “We are going to be increasing our pools by quite a large margin.”
OASIS is a different method of contracting established in 2014 that essentially consolidates contracts. Services that might have once been provided by dozens of businesses might now be done by one company.
The program is touted as a more efficient and flexible way of doing contracting. Some, however, say it makes it tougher for small businesses to compete. It is geared toward providing professional services, such as engineers and other experts.
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McCoy made his remarks at a Thursday meeting held by the Georgia Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association and attended by about 20 members from around the state. Another 16 people from as far away as Texas also watched it online.
The meeting in Atlanta was quickly arranged after The Telegraph published a story July 16 in which some in Warner Robins blamed the program for vacant buildings once occupied by aerospace industry.
McCoy said OASIS is currently at about $9.3 billion in government-wide contracts, about evenly split between one category just for small business and another for businesses of any size.
Officials said they could not speak to how OASIS might impact the economy in any particular area.
“Lots of things factor into that,” said Alexandra Rouse, professional services program executive with the U.S. General Services Administration, which manages OASIS. “It really depends on how the Air Force is driving their acquisition strategies.”
Brian Smith, president of the state chapter of the National Defense Industry Association, said he had not heard similar criticisms of OASIS impacting local jobs in other areas of the state.
But he said that could be because the type of work performed at Robins is more of the type done under OASIS. He said he has spoken with businesses in Atlanta that have benefited from it.
Dan Rhoades, director of strategy for the 21st Century Partnership in Warner Robins, asked why most OASIS contractors are based in the Washington, D.C., area.
Michelle Warren, a General Services Administration director, said there is no intent to push OASIS contracts to businesses in the D.C. area, but that happens to be where the qualified contractors are based.
Rhoades said the meeting was held in Atlanta because of the short notice and schedule of the speakers, but he hopes to have OASIS officials come to Warner Robins and speak to local businesses about how to position themselves to compete for an OASIS contract.
“It was good to see GSA come down and begin to open up that discussion with folks all over Georgia,” he said.