GSA expects to issue Polaris solicitation by Dec. 21

The General Services Administration (GSA) Headquarters building. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

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The General Services Administration is expecting to issue a solicitation for the Polaris IT governmentwide acquisition contract by Dec. 21.

Speaking at a digital workshop for prospective contractors Wednesday, senior General Services Administration (GSA) contracting officer James Mitchell outlined the expected timeline and launch of the contract later this year.

“For the release of the solicitation, we are targeting late fall. Since this is Polaris, we are following the astronomical calendar definition of fall, which would be Dec. 21,” Mitchell said.

Following the release of the solicitation, GSA expects that proposals for the contract will then be due within 40 to 60 days.

News of the expected timeline comes after GSA last month issued an updated draft of sections L and M of the request for proposals, which included clarifications across a range of areas including how teaming arrangements will be viewed as part of the procurement.

In particular, the new draft sections clarify how businesses engaged in mentor-protégé teaming arrangements will be viewed. The Small Business Administration’s mentor-protégé program is a scheme designed to foster collaboration between new entrants and incumbents in the federal contracting space.

For civilian agencies, two businesses in a mentor-protégé relationship when both the mentor and protégé are small — or where relevant exceptions have been received — will be considered as a small business teaming arrangement.

For businesses working with the Department of Defense, entities in the department’s mentor-protégé program will be regarded as such. There is no exception to joint venture size affiliation for offers received from teaming arrangements under the DOD’s mentor-protégé program.

Clarification over how mentor-protégé arrangements will be treated follows concern among technology contractors over changes to the points-based system used to evaluate such arrangements during the National Institutes of Health’s $50 billion CIO-SP4 procurement.

Contracting sources speaking to FedScoop in September flagged concerns about the CIO-SP4 procurement process, warning that changes may have made it hard for some smaller contractors to earn a spot on the vehicle.

Speaking at the workshop on Wednesday, senior procurement leaders including Sonny Hashmi, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, emphasized Polaris’ focus on opportunities for small businesses and on furthering the Biden administration’s equity and inclusion agenda.

Polaris is a small business set-aside, multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year horizon. It has no set ceiling and is comprised of four pools: unrestricted small businesses, HUBZone businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and women-owned small businesses.

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General Services Administration (GSA), Polaris, Small Business Administration (SBA), Sonny Hashmi
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