The National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) Chief Information Officer – Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) RFP has seen 4 amendments since being released June 25. With a ceiling of $50 billion and spanning 10 years, the latest amendment has caused concern for some small business.
In the original solicitation, bidders with Contractor Teaming Arrangements (CTAs) or Joint Ventures (JVs) could use only prime contractor Corporate Experience, Leading Edge Technology, Federal Multiple Award Contracts (MACs), and Executive Order 13779 experience examples to be documented on the self-scoring worksheet. Generally, the higher the dollar value of these experiences, the higher the score.
Since the RFP draft was released last year, contractors believed they would not be able to use the experiences of teaming partners to increase their score. Because of this, many did not focus on developing CTAs or JV’s. Most large businesses chasing this opportunity will probably have enough experience to score highly without teaming partners.
In the latest amendment, #4, NITAAC removed the ban on using first-tier subcontractor experience examples. At first glance, it appears the amendment would help both large and small businesses, as it aims to remove teaming hindrances. It may especially help large businesses, as they can now both prime and act as a first-tier subcontractor. This will allow them to join numerous teams.
The Professional Services Council (PSC) has encouraged NITAAC to give the industry additional time to submit proposals, suggesting the proposal due date be changed to July 30. While the due date has already been extended once to July 8, the PSC’s executive vice president for policy, Stephanie Kostro, suggested another extension in a letter addressed to Brian Goodger, Director of NITAAC. Kostos namely calls out “imprecise and at times inconsistent language,” “inequitable and confusion treatment of questions,” and “breadth and depth of changes” as rationale for the extension suggestion.
As a result of the self-scoring experience requirements change, small businesses that were planning to bid without teaming partners may now face difficulties staying competitive in the space. Many have pointed out that this is merely another example of how challenging it can be for smaller businesses to do work with the federal government.