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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

More protests for $2B Patent & Trademark Office contract

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s $2 billion IT contract known by the acronym BOSS has hit a snag once again.

Last month, USPTO issued awards to three small business and two large firms for software development and systems integration services: Booz Allen Hamilton, Science Applications International Corp., Halvik Corp., Riva Solutions and Steampunk.

Seven losing bidders are now challenging the evaluations, claiming that they would have won a spot on the Business Oriented Software Solutions vehicle if the evaluations followed the parameters described in the solicitation.

Those protesters are:

  • General Dynamics IT
  • Salient CRGT
  • M6-Vets LLC
  • MERPTech LLC
  • Metric 8
  • General Dynamics IT
  • RCH Partners LLC
  • Stratera Fulcrum Technologies

Pretty standard stuff so far it would seem. But USPTO doesn’t follow all of the same procurement rules as much of the rest of the government.

USPTO’s special status came into play when the BOSS contract was the subject of protests by CGI Federal and Ascendant after they failed to clear a downselect phase.

Only it wasn’t a downselect.

The Government Accountability Office ruled there was no solicitation and rejected the protest. CGI and Ascendant argued that a request for information should be considered part of the solicitation. Neither company was not invited to bid on BOSS after they responded to the RFI.

GAO said that didn't matter even if the RFI acted as a de facto gate. That is because USPTO operates its procurements under the Patent and Trademark Office Efficiency Act, which excludes that agency from many of the usual procurement rules.

USPTO instead operates its procurements under the PTO Acquisition Guidelines, or PTAGs as they are called, as laid out in the law.

That is what will make this latest set of protests interesting to watch, given there's no doubt of a solicitation this time. But what else might be lurking in those PTAGs that could swing the protest rulings one way or another?

All protests were filed from mid-April to early May. They may be bundled into a single protest process if the claims are similar enough. Or GAO will rule on them separately. Salient CRGT was the first of the group to file and did so on April 19, so their decision is due by July 28.

The BOSS contract covers software development and integration, testing, configuration management, production, software maintenance and transition, and program management.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 11, 2021 at 12:25 PM


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