Is the Alliant 2 finish line farther away than ever?
Bidders were surprised yet again by a second two-week extension on the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Alliant 2 Small Business (SB) and Unrestricted procurements. Bids are now due on Oct. 7. The finish line of final awards seems farther away than ever.
With regard to the original extension, GSA stated that the purpose was to give bidders time to obtain contracting officer (CO) signatures. However, a second two-week extension raises questions as to what is happening behind the scenes.
Pre-award protest filed and withdrawn, but another protest filed
A protest was filed on Aug. 10 by Enterprise Information Services Inc., (GAO file no. B-413559.1.) This protest was subsequently withdrawn. On Sept. 14, Evolver Inc. filed its own protest (GAO file no. B-413559.2. Both companies are mid-tier in size.
While GSA allows teaming for small businesses, giving them more options for meeting the rigid relevant experience and past performance standards, mid-tier companies of smaller size are still voicing concerns over restricted competition on Alliant 2 Unrestricted.
Related protest resolved in favor of GSA
The GSA Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTs) procurement had a similar evaluation and scoring approach as GSA Alliant 2. HCaTs resulted in 26 protests. One such protest by Sevatec Inc. (GAO file no. B-413155.11) was denied, with the outcome favoring GSA. Sevatec asserted that “the elimination of its proposal was unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation.” Essentially, Sevatec was eliminated for a relatively minor compliance infraction. GAO denied the protest, stating:
“Where solicitation required offerors to provide evidence of past experience ‘within a verifiable contractual document,’ the agency reasonably determined that protester’s submission of an unsigned contract modification document was insufficient to meet the solicitation requirements.”
This protest is very pertinent to Alliant 2 because the solicitation requires a voluminous amount of contractual documentation for both Product Service Code and Leading Edge Technology experience examples. Bidders should take note and carefully check and double check compliance to avoid elimination.
Alliant 2 issues remain
As I recently wrote, smaller mid-tiers in particular point to a perceived lack of competition related to the NAICS code, number of awards, and evaluation approach. Protests could relate to the argument that the technical or past performance evaluation is unreasonable, with unduly restrictive provisions. However, as the recent HCaTs protest decision indicates, once proposals are submitted, bidders will not be successful in arguing that elimination due to compliance oversight is unreasonable.
What’s a bidder to do?
The best thing prospective offerors can do is to use the extra time allotted to check and double check compliance. If possible, it is also wise to research if the extension allows for inclusion of more or better PSCs or LETs. In any case, it is looking more and more possible that GSA Alliant 2 will not be award in 2017.
Lisa Pafe is a capture strategy and proposal development consultant and is vice president of Lohfeld Consulting. She can be reached at LPafe@LohfeldConsulting.com