WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

Blog archive
Nick Wakeman

NIH loses first CIO-SP3 Small Business protest

So far the National Institutes of Health is 3-and-1 in defending its decisions involving the $20 billion CIO-SP3 Small Business contract.

NIH is trying to make new awards to the IT services contract via an on-ramping process but so far it hasn’t made awards because of a series of protests filed with the Government Accountability Office.

So far, the Government Accountability Office sided with NIH in denying protests from Leader Communications Inc., AttainX Inc. and FreeAlliance.com LLC because they didn’t submit verification of an adequate cost accounting system from the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

But NIH ended up on the losing end of a protest by Competitive Range Solutions LLC out of O’Fallon, Ill. NIH rejected their proposal because it didn’t show that the company had capabilities in health-related missions.

The company argued that because NIH CIO-SP3 is an IT services contract, it only to show it had IT services experience. GAO rejected that argument.

But NIH’s fatal flaw was because the evaluation was a two-phase process. In phase one, NIH evaluated proposals on four Go/No-Go requirements. It was during this process that Competitive Range Solutions, also known as CRS, was rejected.

During phase one, CRS was not compared or judged against any other bidders so the company argued that NIH had actually made a non-responsibility determination. GAO agreed and said it was improper for NIH to do that. Instead, the agency should have referred the proposal for a ruling by the Small Business Administration. SBA makes those kinds of determination as part of its certificate of competency procedures.

GAO likely wouldn’t have sided with CRS if NIH had rejected the company after comparing its proposal to other small businesses.

In its recommendation, GAO wants NIH to refer the proposal to SBA for the certificate of competency. If SBA signs off, NIH should evaluate CRS under its phase 2 procedures.

I think GAO’s decision doesn’t give CRS much hope of ultimately winning a spot on the contract. GAO rejected CRS position that it didn’t need health-related capabilities. It only need to show it provide IT services in a health-related setting. But we’ll see.

NIH still faces five pending protests involving CIO-SP3 Small Business. They are expected to be resolved in July.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more protests after the actual awards are made. According to the GAO decision, NIH received 552 proposals from companies wanting to get on the contract via the on-ramp. Surely, they all won’t be winners.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 27, 2017 at 1:29 PM


Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.