New wave of protests builds against CIO-SP4

The number of unhappy bidders regarding this $50 billion governmentwide IT acquisition is poised to climb.

The floodgates are open: More protests are pouring in from companies that are unsatisfied over their eliminations from consideration for the $50 billion CIO-SP4 vehicle, a governmentwide acquisition contract for IT services and solutions.

The National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition organization responsible for the procurement opted for a self-scoring process for phase one of the procurement to narrow the field.

Companies that failed to reach the threshold for moving onto phase two are among the protestors in this latest round of challenges.

After an earlier set of protests, the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center took corrective action on them that may let those companies back into the competition.

Round number two of protests followed NITAAC's start of debriefings for companies that did not get past phase one.

As of this story being published, the Government Accountability Office's protest docket indicates 13 new filings so far. But one source has told me another 10 protests have been filed but not posted publicly yet, and a second source believes more are on the way after those 23.

Each protestor is alleging that NITAAC set an arbitrary threshold for the self-scored proposals.

The due dates for rulings on those protests are in the mid-February timeframe, but it is hard to imagine that NITAAC won’t take corrective action.

How NITAAC handled the 10 protests filed before the debriefings began indicates the organization has a ready-made solution.

For that group, NITAAC said it would reassess the scoring cutoff and make a new determination on which companies will move onto phase two.

It seems that NITAAC has opened the gate for the same type of corrective action for the newest group of protesters.

I also wonder about how agencies use self-scoring for these procurements.

Self-scoring has become the standard method for many agencies in awarding these large, multiple-award contract vehicles. But do they effectively separate the winners and losers? That seems to be where NITAAC is struggling.