UPDATE: CIO-SP3 SB On Ramp Awards and Timeframe

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** Update 5.1.17

All Active protests on CIO-SP3 SB on ramp have been marked as dismissed. It is our understanding based on conversations with two of the protesting firms that both received the guidance outlined in the 4.27 update below. This is presumably the case for all dismissals, though that has not been confirmed. 

** Update 4.28.16

"Competitive Range Solutions, LLC (CRS), of O'Fallon, Illinois, protests the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s exclusion of the protester's proposal from further consideration under request for proposals (RFP) No. NIHJT2016015, for information technology (IT) supplies and services. The protester argues that the agency's exclusion of its proposal based on its failure to have sufficient capabilities in health-related missions amounted to a nonresponsibility determination that should have been referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) under SBA's certificate of competency (COC) procedures"

We sustain the protest.  Read more details here

G2X TAKE: As at least one astute commenter predicted in the comment thread below, late Thursday GAO released additional details related to the sustained protest that we reported early this week and it is not good news for bidders hoping for a quick resolution.

As part of this recently published protest decision, GAO sided with Competitive Range Solutions, LLC and their argument that the "agency’s exclusion of its proposal based on its failure to have sufficient capabilities in health-related missions amounted to a nonresponsibility determination that should have been referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) under SBA’s certificate of competency (COC) procedures." While the total number of firms who fall into a similar situation has not been revealed, with 552 bidders, it will be significant and, with SBA needing to get involved, this has the potential to slow this to a crawl. 

As a side comment, a note in the GAO document states that NIH "contemplated the award of up to 35 additional indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts" as part of the CIO-SP3 On Ramp. We suspect they will exceed that number, but it does provide a feel for any one firms odds. 

** Update 4.27.17

G2X TAKE: While not officially announced yet, G2X has been informed that, after reviewing the outstanding protest(s), the agency has determined that corrective action is necessary. Included below are some of the details for how NITAAC plans to remedy the issues.

Some of the voluntary corrective actions/steps are expected to include

  • A re-evaluation of those offerors’ proposals that were determined to be “Acceptable” under Phase 1 of proposal evaluations, to include a reassessment of whether these offerors were compliant with all Phase 1 go/no-go requirements.
  • A re-evaluation of those offerors’ proposals that were determined to be “Unacceptable” solely under the following go/no-go factor: Factor 2, Subfactor 1 (Domain-Specific Capability in a Health-related Mission). Note- proposals determined to be “Unacceptable” under Phase 1 will not be re-evaluated as they have been deemed ineligible for further consideration for award.
  • NITAAC will conduct a best value trade-off analysis and make a new source selection decision, to include the possibility of making new awards and/or reaffirming some or all of the previous awards.

These types of challenges and corrective actions are not atypical for a large multiple-award IDIQ as the first round of awards and subsequent protests shine a light on any evaluation process issues/deficiencies. This does provide a glimmer of hope for those firms who feel as if they were not evaluated in the proper way, irrespective of whether they protested or not. More will be made available here as it comes to light. 

Have intel/insight the community can benefit from? email us at scoop@g2xchange.com

We should note that NITAAC has announced a CIO-SP3 SB Roundtable for contract holders on their website for this June - details here   

** Update 4.20.17

G2X TAKE: It is unclear what impact this may have on the broader competition at this point, but we suspect many CIO-SP3 SB On Ramp bidders will be interested in revisiting and rereading the redacted copy of the protest provided below as it appears GAO has sided with this 8(a) and SDVOSB.

After watching GAO dismiss a number of protests, GAO has sustained this recent challenge put forth by Competitive Range Solutions, LLC. The protest action is understood to have been filed by this group after receiving a debrief and letter from NITAAC. A redacted copy of the protest was provided to G2X and is included in the comment thread below. The primary grounds appear to center around the NITAAC definition of the required "Health IT".

With many firms still waiting to hear their fate and five others with active protests ( see details below), any action taken by NITAAC to remedy this issue has the potential to have a ripple effect across the broader competition for this important IDIQ. 

** Update 4.10.17

G2X TAKE: Two more firms filed a protest late last week. The first challenge comes from 8(a), EDWOSB and HUBZone, Anika Systems and the second comes from CA based  VSolvit, a 8(a) and HUBZone small business. That makes five new protests in the last two weeks and six overall

** Update 4.3.17

G2X TAKE: A protest was filed last week by two competitors seeking to add a prime spot on the $20B CIO-SP3 GWAC, one by a SDVOSB and the other, a WOSB, 8(a) and HUBZone.

The grounds for the protests put forth on March 31st by Visual Connections and Arch Systems have not been revealed at this time. More than a month ago, NIH announced their intended HUBZone awards (see thread below) and this group has been slowly whittling away at the SDVOSB protests, with one outstanding and known protest remaining.

It is unclear how these two new protests fit into the planned staged award process. Might this challenge indicate HUBZone is not quite settled yet? (Visual Connections has qualified as a HUBZone in the past); that NIH is tackling the SB track; or something else? We do not have any information to provide at this time, but will make it available as it is released. As the clock continues to tick towards a summer recertification for current CIO-SP3 SB primes, NITAAC is certain to be pushing to get this resolved.

GAO has listed a due date of July 10, 2017 for resolution. 


** 8(a) and HUBZone small business Analytica was added to the list of recent protesters late on Tuesday.

** Update 3.19.17

G2X TAKE: NITAAC continues to methodically work through the stages, with the dismissal of one protest coming late last week. After making the initial HUBZone awards last month, SDVOSB awards are expected to be next up.

Details as to grounds for the protest, and rationale for the dismissal, put forth by SDVOSB, Leader Communications, Inc., remain limited at this point, but are expected to be posted. They will be added here, when and if made available.

If the first go around with HUBZones is any indication, you can expect SDVOSB awards to be released shortly after the final protest is resolved.

If any G2X member receives a list of awardees, we would appreciate an email! - scoop@g2xchange.com

** Update 2.13.17

G2X TAKE: NITAAC notified the HUBZone award winners (technically pre-award winners) on Monday for the $20B CIO-SP3 SB On Ramp.

The full list of awardees can be found by clicking here (Note: you will need to be logged in.) 

The SDVOSB category should be next, though a couple outstanding protests remain unresolved.

** Update 1.27.17

G2X TAKE: While many await the first set of awards for the on ramp, NITAAC continues to make progress in their evaluation. Proof is this latest protest, the second put forth by a SDVOSB, after a series of HUBZone challenges were levied and marked as dismissed.

8(a) and SDVOSB, Competitive Range Solutions, LLC filed a protest early this week after receiving a debrief and letter from NITAAC on January 13, with the final GAO response to the protest due no later than May 3 rd. The grounds for the action have not been released in full, but for those interested, a redacted copy of the protest was provided to G2X and is included in the comment thread below. The primary grounds appears to center around the NITAAC definition of the required "Health IT" capabilities.

** Update 1.3.17

G2X TAKE: NITAAC has previously stated that they will be evaluating solicitations by category. After a wave of HUBZone protests were filed and subsequently marked as dismissed, this service disabled veteran owned small business** has levied a protest related to the on-ramp for this $20B GWAC.

Details as to the rationale for the protest put forth by Leader Communications, Inc. remain limited at this point. The due date for the protest is not until Apr 3, 2017. 

**Do note that an asterisk has been placed in this firms SAM profle stating "*The Small Business Administration (SBA) has notified SAM that a Formal Size Determination has been made that indicates the entity is not a small business for the NAICS with the asterisk * beside it." This includes a range of NAICS size standards, up to and including the 1500 FTE standard 

** Update 11.30.16

Update: NITAAC works to trim field of 552 CIO-SP3 On Ramp proposals – The rationale provided in the GAO decision released yesterday highlighting two dismissals is in itself pretty basic, but worth a read as it does provide some insight into the process NITAAC is undertaking and the level of competition.

Of particular interest is the note that “the agency received 552 proposals, among which were 70 HUBZone proposals”

Included here is a direct link to the protest summary and decision

** Update 11.23.16

G2X TAKE: The last of the five open CIO-SP3 SB Protests is now marked as “dismissed” The lack of any details provided by GAO means we cannot guarantee we are any closer to award, but it is progress. We will keep our eyes peeled for any award announcements. As noted below, it is our impression that the first set of award announcements will be for HUBZone firms only, though that has not been confirmed by NITAAC.

** Update 11.21.16

Ambiguous Contractor Teaming Agreement Sinks CIO-SP3 Proposal – November 18, 2016, By Steven Koprince

Joint venture partner or subcontractor? An offeror’s teaming agreement for the CIO-SP3 GWAC wasn’t clear about which tasks would be performed by joint venture partners and which would be performed by subcontractors–and the agency was within its discretion to eliminate the offeror as a result.

A recent GAO bid protest decision demonstrates that when a solicitation calls for information about teaming relationships, it is important to clearly establish which type of teaming relationship the offeror intends to establish, and draft the teaming agreement and proposal accordingly.

At our SmallGovCon blog, my colleagues and I discuss teaming agreements and joint ventures frequently. As important as teaming is for many contractors, one might think that the FAR would be overflowing with information about joint ventures and prime/subcontractor teams. Not so. Most of…

G2X TAKE: Four down and one to go for the open CIO-SP3 SB OnRamp protests. This article highlights the latest dismissal along with some valuable lessons learned for those firms on how not to set up a Contractor Teaming Agreement (CTA).

This protest by NextGen consulting was thrown out based on lack of clarity about which partners would be playing what roles on the team. The lone outstanding protest by Sona Networks is not scheduled to be resolved until January, but we will see if NITAAC and GAO are able to and interested in pushing that schedule.  

** Update 11.16.16

G2X TAKE: NITAAC continues to clear the path for an eventual award with the denial and withdrawal of 3 of the 5 outstanding protests.

The protests put forth by AttainX and FreeAlliance are listed as denied, while the protest put forth by Harmonia Holdings was withdrawn. This does not necessarily mean that we are close to an award, but it is a good sign of progress. Two outstanding protests have yet to be decided in Sona Networks and NextGen, though with the same GAO attorney assigned to all cases, it is reasonable to expect this will work to a quick resolution.

** Update 11.1.16

G2X TAKE: G2X has received a dozen or more emails from firms asking us what we know about the CIO-SP3 SB On Ramp. We, like you, hear lots of rumor and speculation, but it is just that until there is an authoritative voice. The recent word that HHS may award in stages had one of our analysts wondering, which group will come first. This quick and dirty analysis of the current protests may shed some light on which category will be up first.

"There are currently 5 Open Protests for the CIO-SP3 SB On Ramp. Protests are generally filed when you have something to challenge, which leads you to believe the five protesting firms below received some notification from NITAAC.

The five protesting bidders are

Sona Networks LLC – 8(a), HUBZone

FreeAlliance.com, LLC – EDWOSB, 8(a), HUBZone

AttainX, Inc. – EDWOSB, 8(a), HUBZone

NextGen Consulting, Inc 8(a), HUBZone

Harmonia Holdings - EDWOSB, HUBZone

The common thread across all five small businesses is HUBZone. Should those HUBZone bidders who have not yet received correspondence rejoice? Not yet, but it is reasonable to assume that NITAAC has made at least some preliminary cut in that area. If NITAAC proceeds with awards in stages, this is likely to be the first group that gets the nod.

The one interesting thing to ponder here is, if NITAAC plans to limit their number of awards (they have stated they will) AND they are taking a staged approach based on socio-economic status, do they just stop evaluation at some point. In other words, if after evaluating several of the categories, they hit their max, do they elect not to evaluate the other categories at all.

There is precedence as GSA announced they will not evaluate or make awards on two pools for their Agile BPA. NITAAC may not know what they are planning to do yet and much is dependent upon how the evaluation proceeds. While there is a plan, we expect that this group may change their approach mid-stream as they get a better feel for what the pool of bidders looks like."

What are you hearing?   Disagree with the line of thinking? Let us know what you think below.

** Update 10.13.16

G2X TAKE: At this week’s AFCEA Health IT Day, G2Xchange had an opportunity to swing by and connect with NITAAC. As you would expect, they are being very careful with what they say. In terms of timing, this group expressed optimism that they would be able to start communicating some type of result late this calendar year. It sounds as if their planned approach at this point is to evaluate these proposals in groupings by the pre-defined socio-economic categories, and any communications for each category can take place as soon as results for that group are finalized. In other words, if HUBZone is evaluated first, NITAAC may opt to move forward with that group before they do any further evaluation. Any additional details as to the order of which groups will be evaluated first were hard to come by.

What to watch – NITAAC has been fortunate enough to be limited in terms of having to make many cuts with their past IDIQ awards, with most who didn’t receive an award identified as non-compliant in some capacity. That is not expected to be the case this time around, and as many know, with cuts come an extra level of scrutiny, and the increased potential for protest.

As addressed below, NITAAC is currently dealing with four open protests and their ability to get these dismissed will certainly be a leading indicator. 

If you have any additional details to share or if you heard anything else, please comment below. Note: You will need to be signed in to comment and participate in the conversation. 

** Update 10.10.16

Another protest. This time by Sona Networks LLC. This brings the total to 4 open protests. 

** Update 8.18.16 **

Two more protests put forth. The first is by Lynchburg, VA based AttainX (not be confused with Attain) and the third protest was levied by FreeAlliance.com. We have heard much speculation about what this means in relation to a initial down-select/cut. You can do the math - three protests means NITAAC is making some moves.

If you have any insight to share, please do so below. 

** Update 8.16.16 **

G2X TAKE: Outside of the news early this month that the NITAAC Director was stepping down, much has been quiet on the CIO-SP3 On Ramp front. A fresh protest was levied last week by this HUBZone and 8(a) SB, though details as to the grounds for the challenge by NextGen Consulting, Inc. remain limited and the odds of this impacting the timeline for an award are very small. NITAAC and GAO dismissed the three previous protests early this month.

How quickly and effectively this new group, led by Bridget Gauer, responds remains to be seen. The protest is expected to be resolved no later than November 17, 2016

** Posted 5.11.16 **

G2X TAKE: With the response date looming and hundreds of small businesses working feverishly to finalize their response, it appears that some firms decided now was the best time to challenge NITAAC. Three different protests were published to GAO this week. As with any GAO protest, the details are limited until resolution. The three firms were R Dorsey and Company, Zillion Technologies and Navitas Business Consulting.

Barring some major red flag being raised, these protests are unlikely to impact the timeline (sorry) and bidding firms can’t afford to bank on it. The protests are expected to be heard and resolved no later than mid-August.

G2X members can follow the conversation below by logging in. Updates will be provided as they are made available. 

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