In a statement, the agency said its submission for the procurement would open no earlier than April 5, and encouraged prospective contractors to review solicitation requirements on SAM.gov.
Polaris is one of the most hotly anticipated governmentwide IT acquisition vehicles among federal technology contractors. It has an expected $15 billion ceiling and will allow government agencies to obtain a range of services including cloud platforms, cybersecurity and software development technology.
While GSA has published the solicitations, it has not published project verification forms, which are required by small businesses in order to submit their proposals. These will not be released until April 5.
The governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) is also the first contract vehicle of its type to have four different pools of industry partners: small business, women-owned small businesses, historically underutilized business zones and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
The publication of the solicitations follows multiple delays to the procurement vehicle. GSA in late 2021 delayed publication of the solicitation in response to industry feedback, and a spokesperson at the time said the RFPs for the solicitation would be issued in January.
GSA subsequently posted pre-solicitation notices to SAM.gov announcing plans to issue pool requests for proposals sometime in February, which were also subsequently delayed.
Polaris succeeds the 8(a) STARS III and VETS 2 governmentwide acquisition contracts and is intended to further the Biden administration’s efforts to use the purchasing power of the federal government to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
Commenting on the launch of the procurement, Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi said: “The staggered approach to the pools allows us to more quickly provide the federal marketplace with access to key industry segments for which there is procurement set-aside authority and provide equitable business opportunities for historically underserved and marginalized small businesses, while supporting customer agencies and their small business program goals.”
Laura Stanton, assistant commissioner for the GSA Office of Information Technology Category, said: “The creation of these four diverse pools will afford more opportunities through increased exposure to government opportunities.”
She added: “Customers seeking customized IT services or an IT services-based solution from a Small Business, HUBZone, SDVOSB, or WOSB will have access to highly-qualified small businesses from these sectors who can meet their IT mission objectives and deliver small business program results, advancing a more just society in fulfillment of public policy objectives.”
Under terms released for the procurement, large businesses bidding for contracts will be able to cite all prior past performance to support their proposals.
Commenting on the solicitation release, government contracting specialist and co-owner at BD Squared, Stephanie Mitchell, said: “The delay in publishing the project verification form is disappointing. That’s 11 days that small businesses will lose in their proposal development time. These forms need to be signed by governement customers putting an additional strain on the contracting officers and program managers across the agencies. We should have received a complete RFP.”
She added: “Allowing large businesses in this solicitation to bring 100% of their past performance to bear means that smaller business will have to go right up against the large multi-billion dollar corporations. It’s a slap in the face to small businesses.”