Fifty-one small businesses, nearly all of them Washington area companies, were included in the contract for Commerce Information Technology Solutions Next Generation, known as COMMITS NexGen. The contract can be used by all federal agencies to buy information technology services.

The winning companies can compete for up to $8 billion in IT work over 10 years. More than 400 companies competed to be in the contract, which is limited to small businesses, said Patti A. Stang, Commerce Department contracting officer .

A major attraction of the contract for small businesses is the opportunity to be a prime contractor on a large government-wide contract, said Leslie Butler, president of Bethesda-based Zen Technology Inc., one of the winners.

"Small and medium-size businesses don't generally have that opportunity," she said.

John Lauder, a senior vice president at NCI Information Systems Inc. of Reston, another of the 51 winners, praised the flexibility of COMMITS NexGen, which allows a company to select teammates for each task order it wins.

"This contract is unique in that it was our ability to team that was evaluated, rather than a particular set of teammates," he said.

COMMITS NexGen is the successor to the five-year, $1.5 billion COMMITS contract that expired last month. Fifteen of the 58 vendors on the first contract won spots on NexGen, Stang said.

Stang expects the new contract to be even more popular than the original, which was used by 11 federal departments and agencies.

"I'm anxious for this to take off, and I know it's going to," she said.

Under COMMITS NexGen, federal agencies can buy IT services from small businesses, including those that participate in the Small Business Administration's programs for minority-owned and other disadvantaged businesses. The winners were chosen for their technical experience, service quality, mission capabilities, past performance and price, according to the Commerce Department.

Gail Repsher Emery is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more details on this and other technology contracts, go to