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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

$20B NIH contract clears protest hurdle

A set of Government Accountability Office decisions has cleared the way for NIH to move ahead with awards for its $20 billion CIO Commodity Solutions contract, known as CIO-CS.

GAO denied the protests of PCMG, Computer Security Solutions LLC, and Veterans Healthcare Supply Solutions. The three companies had filed protests because they were eliminated during phase one of the competition and would not be considered for the second and final phase.

NIH expects to award between 40 and 50 contracts for IT commodities and solutions. The contract has a $20 billion ceiling over 10 years.

PCMG and Computer Security Solutions were both eliminated from competition because they didn’t include technical literature in their bids as required by the solicitation.

Computer Security Solutions argued that as a reseller, they didn’t need to include the literature. They also said they included the web addresses for the manufacturers of the products they were bidding if NIH needed more information.

GAO rejected that claim, saying that there was no distinction in the solicitation for what was required of resellers and what was required for manufacturers. The web addresses also weren’t sufficient because 464 items listed in their proposal all had the same manufacturer and the same web address.

PCMG argued that it adequately described the products in its proposal and certified that the products met the requirements of the solicitation. The company also provided a point of contact for the products. They also said that the solicitation used the word “may,” when talking about submitting backup materials.

But GAO countered that the word “may” does not mean that submitting the materials was optional. Instead, the “may” gives the agency discretion in terms of the extent to which it reviews the backup material.

For Veterans Healthcare, GAO denied their assertion that the solicitation was vague in its requirements. The company had failed to include information to show it was a certified reseller for the products it was submitting in its proposal.

Eight companies filed protests in November when they were eliminated from the competition. All but PCMG, Computer Security Solutions and Veterans Healthcare either withdrew their protests or were let back into the competition through a corrective action by the agency.

Because the contract was under protest, NIH could not make an award, though it could move forward with evaluation.

Now that all the protests are resolved, the agency can move forward and make awards. The exact timing isn’t clear but I would expect sooner rather than later. Deltek is estimating May.

The contract will replace and expand the IT products and services contract known as NIH Electronics Commodities Store II. The new contract is designed to support efforts around health and biomedical-related IT.

The contract will support things such as information management, operations, security, infrastructure, telecommunications and desktop applications.

The agency will have a choice of making traditional buys, or they can use a cloud approach for various X-as-a-service offerings.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 10, 2015 at 9:30 AM

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