Back in August 2014, President Obama brought various “deliverables” to the or the African leaders attending the US-Africa Leaders Summit . One of them was the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), focused on six African nations — Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia. All six were (and still are) facing threats from extremist groups, except Ghana, but POTUS also said that SGI, a security sector reform program, would improve the fight against illicit trafficking in narcotics, wildlife, and people.
The president promised $65 million to the African leaders for the first year of SGI to “improve security sector institution capacity to protect civilians and confront challenges and threats, with integrity and accountability.” He hinted that there might be more funding in the future should it prove successful. Since 2014 SGI has laid the groundwork and even produced a review of 2015 SGI activities, which the State Department released last week, on March 2, 2016. A coincidence? I think not.
Enter, our mystery
presolicitation solicitation — African Advisory and Reporting Services (SAQMMA16R0197). It could be a vehicle for the $65 million that POTUS promised the African leaders in 2014. I believe State will issue the full solicitation by the end of March and pick one or more contractors to hire retired military officers and other Africanists to work in the six embassies. They would engage with the host governments, local and international NGOs, and the armed forces themselves. The goal would be to improve the policy and operation surrounding how defenses ministries and military high commands operate. To me, the mystery presolicitation solicitation fits closely to the security sector reform discussed in the Security Governance Initiative.
The only curveball is why State is insisting on a set-aside for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. It could simply be a vestige of the “push small business” efforts of the 1970s and 1980s or the Africa Bureau has already identified its preferred candidate. A no-no, of course, in contracting circles, but not unheard of.
In the scheme of things, $65 million is not a whole lot of money so the big players — Dyncorp, SAIC, AECOM — might not want to go to the wall to fight for a change in the set-aside. Or it’s such a straightforward mission, that State believes that a small business could handle it.
We’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out. I would encourage smaller military contractors, especially service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, to keep following the mystery solicitation.