GAO denies Tata bid protest over CIO-SP4 procurement

The facade of the GAO building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Cory Doctorow/Flickr)

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The Government Accountability Office has denied a protest filed by Tata America International Corporation over evidence requirements for contractors bidding on the National Institutes of Health‘s CIO-SP4 IT procurement.

Tata in its complaint argued that the request for proposals was unduly restrictive of competition because it required offerors to provide commercial sensitive information about customers. According to the IT consultancy, it is unable to disclose the identity of some of its clients because of previously signed confidentiality agreements.

“The protestor contends that this requirement places prospective offerors such as itself at a competitive disadvantage because its otherwise relevant commercial contracts contain confidentiality provisions that prohibit disclosure of information required by the RFP,” Tata argued.

CIO-SP4 is one of the largest technology procurement vehicles to be launched in recent years and has 10 task areas, including IT services, CIO support, cybersecurity, digital government and cloud services, and software development. Under the vehicle, NIH seeks proposals for IT solutions and services in the areas of health, biomedical, scientific administration, operational, managerial and information systems requirements.

GAO in its ruling said it believed the requirements for specific evidence of previously completed contracts to be reasonable because the government agency needs some way of confirming a company’s prior track record.

Since a request for proposals was issued in May this year, a total of 21 protests have been filed in relation to the contract. Of complaints submitted, three have been withdrawn and 11 have now been dismissed.

In September, federal contracting sources speaking to FedScoop raised concerns over the CIO-SP4 procurement, including the treatment of some businesses bidding as part of a mentor-protégé system run by the Small Business Administration.

As part of the procurement process launched to fulfill the contract, the National Institutes of Health at HHS has required prospective contractors to outline prior experience, which includes verifying details of previous work carried out.

Tata did not respond to a request for comment.

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Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Tata
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