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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Did GSA get OASIS right?

As the $60 billion OASIS contract has wound its way from concept to solicitation to award, the General Services Administration has been vocal about how it has worked with industry and how much collaboration has gone into developing the contract.

The agency is expanding the use of the GSA Interact site that it used to collaborate with industry as it developed OASIS. Now, it is using it to develop Alliant II and Alliant Small Business II.

When I reached out to GSA for comment after 10 small businesses filed protests of the OASIS awards made in February, they referenced the collaboration again and implied that, because of those efforts, it would weather the protests.

“GSA has made it a top priority to work closely with both our industry and federal partners throughout the OASIS Small Business (OASIS SB) solicitation and award process,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

This might be premature because the large business awards haven’t been made yet, but I’m beginning to think that GSA got it right with OASIS.

I point to two pieces of evidence:

One, there have been no more protests filed with the Government Accountability Office in the last week. One protest has been dismissed, so GSA is likely taking some sort of corrective action. Others might also be dismissed.

But the fact there are only 10 protests speaks volumes about the process so far.

My second bit of evidence comes from one of the losing bidders. They are not protesting the loss, though I know they are disappointed.

An executive with the company shared a copy of the company’s Unsuccessful Offeror Notification.

The notification says that GSA received 330 proposals. Pool 1 alone had 186 offerors. GSA made only 43 awards in that pool, so that’s 143 disappointed bidders.

So, if you get only 10 protests out of that many rejected proposals, that sounds pretty good to me.

If my source’s notification letter is typical of what the other losing bidders received, it’s even more surprising there aren’t more protests because the notification letter also includes a written post award debrief.

But it’s a bare-bones debrief to say the least. This company was told simply that its technical score was too low. But there is no elaboration. There is nothing to build on for future bids.

This kind of lack of information is what drives a lot of companies to protest. The fact is that we haven’t seen a flood of protests yet, which indicates to me that GSA is in a strong position to defend its decisions.

We could still see more protests but as each day goes by, that becomes less likely.

But going back to the notification letter, I can’t help but think there is something unfair about it.

GSA isn’t breaking any rules. The solicitation was clear that there would be “no extensive debriefs,” according to my source at the company.

But it seems that GSA should pass back more specific information, particularly when dealing with small businesses. Even if you lose, there should be some value in going through the process, but the dearth of information makes it pretty tough to extract that value.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:24 AM

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