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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protests still bog down $25B SPARC contract

The huge services contract that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has been trying for months to get off the ground continues to be bogged down in protests.

CMS first awarded the $25 billion Strategic Partners Acquisition Readiness Contract, or SPARC, in May and June of 2016 to 81 companies. Over 50 were small businesses, and that’s where the trouble has been.

The contract was quickly hit with bid protests from many small businesses who didn’t make the cut. It didn’t take long, and CMS pulled the awards back to take a corrective action.

New awards were made to some more companies, but not all of the protesters received awards. Two companies – Octo Consulting and Sevatec – have filed new bid protests with the Government Accountability Office.

There also are several open items on the GAO docket from protesters who are asking for reimbursement or what GAO calls entitlement. They feel that the reimbursement is justified because in their view, CMS delayed taking corrective action.

GAO has already ruled that Octo should be reimbursed because it was likely to win its protest against CMS. Another company, Technatomy, also will have its bid protest cost reimbursed by CMS.

But that ruling only applies to Octo's first protest. So a decision doesn’t mean that Octo will ultimately get an award this time around or even win its current bid protest.

Because CMS pulled the awards back, did re-evaluations and then made new awards. This protest by Octo and Sevatec has to raise concerns tied to the second round of awards.

Given that so many other companies are also asking for reimbursement indicates that they aren't happy with the corrective action. So I'll be watching for more protests.

Meanwhile, no large businesses have filed protests, so those awards from the summer will stand.

Like the Veterans Affairs Department’s Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation contract, SPARC is vehicle for a wide range of IT services. CMS is expected to use it to modernize its systems.

It is seen as a must-have vehicle to serve the agency for many years to come.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 07, 2017 at 12:36 PM

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