All of the confusion and consternation over the solicitation for the CIO-SP4 IT services governmentwide acquisition contract finally has boiled over. Five companies filed pre-award protests with the Government Accountability Office after the National Institutes of Health Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) failed to clarify several questions about its request for proposals.

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The law forces companies to protest

Cy Alba, a partner with the law firm PilieroMazza, represents four of the protestors and has heard from several other clients who are unhappy with NITAAC’s changes.

“Unfortunately the rules are set up in such a way that if there is a discrepancy or inconsistency in the solicitation, you have to protest before the bids are due otherwise you waved your rights later,” Alba said. “That is a driver to this. It’s not because you want to be aggressive, but some of it is just NITAAC put all the terms in the RFP and amended things but they didn’t do it consistently. The Q&A wasn’t consistent either. If you guess on what NITAAC means and you are wrong, you may lose out on your bid.”

Alba said that means, for example, if NITAAC refers to section J6 to answer questions but they really meant section J7, that puts the contractor in a tough spot because the agency could disqualify them for using J7 instead of J6 even though all signs pointed to J7 as being the correct section.

Time to rescind the solicitation?

Another big issue that NITAAC failed to clarify is around past performance for multiple award indefinite delivery/indefinite quality (IDIQ) type contracts versus single award IDIQ contracts.

“In the Q&A, NITAAC answered the question around multiple award IDIQ, saying all obligated dollars should be used as one reference. But for single award IDIQ contracts, NITAAC was silent,” Alba said. “It seems like attempts to ask questions about this issue were not answered.”

Alba, PSC’s Kostro and other industry experts said NITAAC should rescind the CIO-SP4 solicitation, fix the problems and reissue it. They said it may delay the final award, but it would be worth it in the end.

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Excerpt taken from the article “Frustrations Over NITAAC’s $50B CIO-SP4 GWAC Boiling Over” by Jason Miller for Federal News Network.  Visit this link for the full article.

If you have questions about CIO-SP4, please contact Cy Alba or a member of PilieroMazza’s Government Contracts Group.