Updates: $25B CMS SPARC

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** Update: May 18, 2017

Update: Passed to G2X by a member. An email was sent from OAGM to Large CMS SPARC Prime Awardees – “The Strategic Partners Acquisition Readiness Contract is now open for business in the unrestricted pool (large). Please be on the lookout for market research requests and solicitations for task orders soon.” And they are off!

** Update: May 15, 2017

Update: Late yesterday GAO posted the final decisions for both protests dismissed last week

Octo Consulting Group, Inc., B-413116.53,B-413116.55

Sevatec, Inc., B-413116.52,B-413116.59

Both challenges centered around the CMS decision to give an award to a higher-priced offeror and the weighting CMS used as part of the best-value tradeoff. We won't delve into the details of each challenge here as the decision papers are succint. Worth the quick read, if nothing else than to see the side by side comparison of these two bidders compared to a few of the firms who just made the cut. 

** Update May 11, 2017

G2X TAKE: Large prime contract awardees who have grown increasingly restless as they watched the small business vehicle kick off now take a wait and see approach to see whether the contract is given the green light to move forward.

The two outstanding protests by Sevatec and Octo Consulting are now both marked as “Denied”. We do expect GAO to provide more details as to the reason for denial, but limited information is available at this time. With this much on the line, both firms are clearly going to evaluate their next move and current large awardees just hope it doesn’t entail another protest. Is it really over? Maybe. More will be posted here as it is made available. 

Have insight to share? Drop us a line at scoop@g2xchange.com 

** Update March 30, 3017

G2X TAKE: CMS and GAO have "dismissed"  a protest put forth by Jasper Solutions, which is believed to be their last outstanding small business protest on this $25B IDIQ. Two large protests remain open. SPARC prime awardees remain hopeful that any outstanding items can get resolved soon, with the possibility for tasks in FY17. 

The two outstanding GAO filings known to remain open were put forth by Octo Consulting, and Sevatec.

** Update: March 8, 2017

G2X TAKE: One down and three to go. CMS and GAO made quick work of one of two small business protests as they dismissed the challenge put forth by 8(a) Z&A Infotek a little more than a week after being filed. CMS had a significant number of challenges levied after the initial set of awards was announced and were forced to make adjustments. Current awardees can only hope this recent and quick dismissal is a sign of things to come. CMS has certainly braced for the challenge and the assigned GAO attorney Eric Ransom is as well versed in a case as you can be.

Three outstanding GAO filings are known to remain in protests put forth by Jasper Solutions, Octo Consulting, and Sevatec. 


** Update, February 28, 2017

G2X TAKE: As CMS and the winners feared, GAO published two more protest actions early this week. The first is from a NJ based 8(a) small business, with the second coming from a prior protester.

The grounds for the protest actions filed by Z&A Infotek and Octo Consulting have not been made available at this time. Octo already maintains an open protest action with GAO on this contract that has yet to be resolved. GAO currently has the estimated due date of early June for resolution of the two actions. If more challenges are filed in the days ahead we will update here. Click the bell in the upper right-hand corner to get notified. 

With prime awardees chomping at the bit to get started on the tasks, CMS may want to take a page out of the VA TAC playbook as this group was able to release tasks on T4NG even with outstanding protests, by allowing protesting firms to receive and even respond to tasks while the protest actions were examined and dealt with. G2X was not privy to how this deal was struck, but we know some of you were. What do you think? Is this a viable option for CMS? Comment below- note: you will need to be logged in

** Added March 2, 20178(a) SB, Jasper Solutions, Inc filed a protest with GAO related to the SPARC contract 

** Update: February 23, 2017

G2X TAKE: The buzz at HIMSS this week for executives supporting the Federal Health IT sector centered heavily around the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Strategic Partners Acquisition Readiness Contract (SPARC) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) and the slew of new small businesses who receiving word of an award on this the $25B vehicle.

[update **] A final and complete list of awardees posted  this morning is included here.

These 140 firms - 110 small and 30 large - will be the primary groups driving any IT efforts at CMS related to 'repeal and replace' efforts and the future of TrumpCare. 

What’s next? The CMS acquisition shop is almost certainly bracing for another round of protests. This group has been methodical in how they approached this latest set of challenges and we suspect they feel good about their ability to withstand any further actions. Whether tasks start flowing in FY17 is still tbd, but more than a few companies approached G2X at HIMSS expressing optimism and near terms plans to bolster staff in anticipation of this vehicle getting off the ground. 

** Update: January 31, 2017

G2X TAKE: CMS is understood to be communicating the results of their latest round of evaluation to a set of bidders for this important $25B IDIQ and, as expected, not all firms are content with the results.

A bid protest was filed this week by Sevatec, Inc. The grounds for the protest have not been made available. The posted due date for this action to be resolved is May 10, 2017, but with more than a dozen open and unresolved GAO protest actions with due dates that have come and gone, you can’t view this as a reliable marker for forecasting when this vehicle might get off the ground. For those hoping to see action on SPARC in FY17, this does put a damper on any optimism as this is unlikely to be the last protest filed. Updates will be provided as they are made available.

** Update- Octo Consulting has filed a protest with GAO as well - details here 

** Update 9.13.16

G2XTAKE: No surprise, G2X gets questioned daily about progress on SPARC. We, like everyone, hear our fair share of rumor and speculation as CMS continues to slowly make progress. The dismissal of four protests this past week levied by Octo Consulting, Technatomy, Data Networks Corporation, and SGT, Inc outwardly indicate that some movement is happening, at least on the large business front, to get this resolved.

The initial grounds for protests were provided by CMS, but the rationale for their being “dismissed”, has yet to be released (or at least we have not seen them) and as we know, dismissed can mean a range of things up to and including corrective action. As anything is officially posted or provided to us, we will share it here. 

In the mean time, have insight to share or questions? Log in and see what other members are saying in the comments thread below about these protests and projected timing OR share your own thoughts. 

** Update 8.1.16

Onslaught of protest actions continue for CMS

G2X TAKE: The newly added CMS Director for the Office of Acquisition and Grants Management, Melissa Starinsky, was forced to jump right into the deep end and the fresh set of protest actions this week will keep this group working hard.

Three large business bidders and one small firm filed additional actions related to SPARC last week. The actions filed with GAO came from Technatomy, Data Networks Corporation/ASRC, Octo Consulting, and a SB, VariQ Conviso Joint Venture. Details as to the rationale for the actions remain limited, but what it does means is that the due date for any final action may extend in early November.

In other news, after having their first protest rebuffed by GAO and CMS, Verisys Corporation has filed a fresh protest with GAO related to the PECOS-Redesign. This protest is unlikely to affect the timeline for an award, but the grounds for the initial protest threatened to have this solicitation cancelled altogether, as Verisys challenged the CMS on their decision to go the custom application development route vs looking first to commercial software vendors who can fulfill stated needs.

There is a lot of speculation as to the grounds for these fresh protests. We won’t comment on that here, but you will find plenty of dialogue in each of the respective comment threads below. .

** Update 7.19.16

G2X TAKE: Three quick updates. Two new protests were levied, two protests were dismissed and CMS released redacted views into the grounds many of the protesters used. The two new protests since our last update came by way of Z&A, Inc. and ACI Health, with the former expected to be resolved by no later than October 19th.

The protest put forth by ACI Health was subsequently dismissed along with the challenge put forth by the LRA-ISI Joint Venture. In each case, the details are limited, but it does appear that CMS is looking to clear the deck where it can. 

If you are looking for a little light reading to help you sleep at night, included here are 16 of the redacted protest documents related to CMS SPARC. (note you need to be logged in to gain access). While similar in some cases, the different tactics used by each protester will be of great interest to the many firms who are evaluating their options.

We should note that CMS recently updated their new SPARC website to inform potential users that “The Strategic Partners Acquisition Readiness Contract (SPARC) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract is not currently available for use due to the receipt of several protests. These protests are currently under review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).”

** Update 7.12.16

G2X TAKE: For those watching the SPARC protest closely, provided here are two updates. The first is that 5 more companies have filed protests, bringing the total to 19. The second is that one ambitious SB is looking to bring together the protesting small businesses with the goal of increasing the potential for success.

As noted on G2Xchange by an anonymous poster – One large business is reported to have filed “as an intervenor against small businesses' protests to ingratiate itself with the agency.” We cannot speak to the validity of this claim. What we can state is that another poster added this last week:

“ATTENTION ALL SMALL BUSINESS PROTESTERS: If you are interested in joining forces and increasing the likelihood of success (given recent developments) please email sparcprotest@gmail.com. We will be reaching out to individual companies as well to coordinate. Thank you.”

Certainly an interesting tactic and one that speaks to all that is on the line as companies vie for a spot on this $25B vehicle.

As for the 5 new protestors – added were C-HIT, IRA-ISI Joint Venture, SparkSoft Corporation, Syneren Technologies and SGT. More to come? We will see.

* Update - Z&A, Inc. and ACI Health added to protest list. 

** Update 6.29.16

G2X TAKE: We had been holding off on announcing the last group of three protests as we expected more and today the floodgates opened as GAO posted 7 new protests, bringing the overall total to 14. This latest batch includes a mix both large and small firms - VariQ Conviso JV; Data Networks Corporation; All Points Logistics; Delmock Technologies; Innosoft Corporation; Octo Consulting Group; and Grove Resource Solutions.

** Note: C-HIT added to the list on 06.30, IRA-ISI Joint Venture added 07.01, SparkSoft Corporation added 07.01; Syneren Technologies added 07.06; SGT added 07.07

With debriefs at or near completion, the clock is running out for those considering a protest and something tells us that this may not be the last group. 

If you want to keep up on any other protests or just follow the conversation below, click the bell in the upper right hand corner and you will receive updates. 

** Update 6.28.16

G2X TAKE: This information was posted to the G2X site late last week and, true to our promise, we said we would not announce each and every challenge as they happened in the Daily Take. Three more protests were added to the growing list of firms challenging the award. The three new protesters are 3T Federal Solutions, Leader Communications and Analytica. This brings the overall total to 7. According to GAO, these actions are expected to be remedied no later than October 3 rd.

CMS is working hard to wrap up debriefs. If you want to keep up on any other protests or just follow the conversation below, click the bell in the upper right hand corner and you will receive updates.

Of more interesting note is how CMS will handle the CICA stay that is currently in place. Several contract awards have yet to be posted to FPDS due to the hold and this hampers CMS ability to move forward. 

How quickly do you think this gets resolved? Should protesting be a part of a firms BD strategy? Let us know what you think and check out some of the comments below. Note: You need to be logged in.

** Update 6.23.16 

G2X TAKE: We suspect that many of you are receiving this information from your primes, but for those who are not, a few updates – CMS confirmed today that as a result of the ongoing protest, there will be a stay of work on the SPARC contract. As a result, CMS confirmed by email that they will also be delaying any Kick Off meetings.

CMS did provide a redacted version of the protest put forth by Next Phase. As you can imagine, the details are few and far between, other than a little bit of clarification as to administrative details of their first protest. If you like reading black lines and would like a copy of the redacted protest, you can email us at admin@g2xchange.com and we will send you a copy.

In addition, we should note that Strategi Consulting LLC, an EDWOSB and 8(a), joined the protestors group as they have filed a challenge of the SPARC award with GAO. Their protest is expected to be resolved no later than Sep 28, 2016.

How quickly do you think this gets resolved? Check out some of the comments below. Note: You need to be logged in.

**Posted 6.20.16

G2X TAKE: Late last week, two additional challenges were put forth on the CMS SPARC award. In the meantime, CMS continues to push forward, holding a internal kickoff (** updated - we have been informed this was not the official kickoff - this was an internal meeting for the HHS OPDIVs) meeting last Friday – highlights below.

Two separate protests came from Technatomy Corporation and Apprio, Inc.; bringing the total open protests to three. The timing remains a bit unclear, but all three protests filed with GAO appear to be timely and each have the potential to force a stay until resolved. CMS has been careful and measured in their approach to this award, so they are almost certainly prepared to deal with whatever comes their way. We promise not to create a Daily Take item every time there is a protest on SPARC, as we expect many, but we will update the list here. You can follow the action by clicking the bell in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The protests are expected to be resolved no later than September 26, 2016.

CMS continued to move forward and they held an internal HHS kick-off call on Friday - it is unclear who all of the invited participants were. There was not much that will be major news at this point, but included below are a few of the key highlights sent to us by a G2X member. 

  • Aaron Blackshire is expected to serve as the primary KO
  • 67% of SPARC RFPs are expected to go to SB
  • CMS is planning to release a detailed forecast for FY17 in the near future - be on the look out. 
  • Teresa Lewis, the HHS OSBDU Director emphasized SDVOSB & HUBZone is a priority, while also mentioning the recent Kingdomware Supreme Court Decision. Any impact on SPARC is unclear.
  • 8a sole source option can be used on SPARC
  • CMS offered a reminder that 33% is required to go to smalls on Unrestricted Bids
  • The SPARC website is up (click here to see it) - the website will be populated with more information by the end of July.
  • Expect 3 to 4 month procurement timelines, rather than 8 to 10 months
  • Reminder that anything less than $29 Mil in TCV must go small
  • Debrief and protest period – CMS is confident that SPARC will be available in 2 months or sooner"

Did you take any other points away from the call? Did we miss something. How many more protests do you expect CMS should expect? How do you think or expect CMS will handle the protests? Comment below. Note: you will need to be logged in to see and participate in the discussion. 

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