CIO-SP4 hits another stumbling block with protests sustained

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The governmentwide contract vehicle with a shared $50 billion ceiling now has an even more uncertain timeline for progress than before.

The National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition team has been dealt another setback in its effort to finalize awards on and open for business the embattled CIO-SP4 IT services and solutions contract vehicle.

In a Thursday statement, the Government Accountability Office said it upheld protests from 64 companies that challenged their eliminations from phase one of the competition.

Substantially all of the protests are from small businesses that are zeroing in on the self-scoring mechanism that NIH's IT Acquisition and Assessment Center used to determine which bidders can move onto phases two and three. Those small businesses believe NITAAC's threshold for advancing past phase one is arbitrary.

CIO-SP4 is a governmentwide contract vehicle with a shared $50 billion ceiling that covers health, biomedical, scientific, administrative, operational, managerial and information systems requirements.

GAO's decision on the protest is currently sealed pending a redaction process to decide what gets released in a public version.

"To respect and honor the GAO process, we will issue a public statement when the decision has been redacted and made public," NITAAC's deputy director Ricky Clark said in an emailed statement to WT via a spokesperson.

But in GAO's statement on its decision, the bid protest adjudication body agency said it determined NITAAC's evaluation of proposals for that group of 64 was flawed.

GAO recommends NITAAC re-evaluate proposals and make new determinations of which should advance past phase one.

NITAAC released a list of preliminary winners in March pending verification of several small business' statuses as such, but GAO's decision is poised to result in changes on that front.

Recall that CIO-SP4's final solicitation was released in the spring of 2021, which means two years of protests followed by corrective actions and yet more protests. The current CIO-SP3 vehicle is set to expire on Oct. 29 unless NITAAC extends it again..

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from NITAAC's deputy director Ricky Clark.