NITAAC hit with further CIO-SP4 bid protest 

(NIH photo)

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Maryland-based Precise Federal Consulting has filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office over the CIO-SP4 procurement, FedScoop has learned.

It is the latest complaint to be filed with GAO in response to the solicitation and comes after the watchdog late last month dismissed protests brought by federal contractors Hendall and Octo after concerns raised in those protests became moot.

Precise’s challenge is understood to focus on an emailed statement sent by the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center to offerors clarifying certain terms of the solicitation.

In a copy of the emailed statement obtained by FedScoop, NITAAC said that all experience examples submitted by offerors must be from the last three years prior to May 25, 2021, which was the initial solicitation release date. 

Email message sent by NITAAC to some CIO-SP4 offerors. Source: FedScoop.

The acquisition agency, housed under the National Institutes of Health, added also in its note that it would validate scores and conduct clarifications in the case of a discrepancy regarding the application of points.

CIO-SP4, like other recent governmentwide acquisition contract vehicles, has been hit with multiple bid disputes over how mentor-protégé joint ventures are assessed by acquisition officials.

In November, GAO partially ruled in favor of Computer World Services Corporation and CWS FMTI JV, after the parties argued that the procurement unfairly disadvantaged large companies in mentor-protégé arrangements.

GAO in that case found that NITAAC did not provide a rationale for the decision and recommended that the agency should either reconsider the limitations or provide further justification to contractors.

The 10-year, $50 billion Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) contract is the fourth iteration of one of the agencies’ primary vehicles for acquiring commoditized IT products and services to meet biomedical research and health care needs.

A request for proposals the National Institutes of Health released in May 2021 was met with numerous questions from the tech industry the agency was later accused of mishandling.

Tata America International Corporation’s protest over requiring evidence of completed contracts was denied in October, on the grounds the ask was reasonable. But GAO partially sustained a protest that the procurement unfairly disadvantaged large companies in mentor-protégé arrangements one month later, asking NIH to either amend its solicitation or further justify why such companies were limited to two pieces of evidence in support of their bid.

NIH and Precise Consulting could not be reached for comment.

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Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4), Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC)
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