Polaris small business contract gets green light to move forward

Gettyimages.com/Pattanaphong Khuankaew

The General Services Administration successfully fends off a pair of protests and can finally move on making awards for the IT solutions vehicle.

The General Services Administration may have the green light to finally make awards for the Polaris small business contract vehicle.

Polaris, which replaced Alliant 2 Small Business after that effort ran into multiple issues in 2020, will have pools of winners around the different small business categories. Agencies will use Polaris to buy IT solutions and services across several performance areas such as cloud, cyber, data management and information technologies.

GSA released the Polaris solicitation in early 2021 and almost immediately ran into pre-award protests at the Government Accountability Office. Some bidders eventually turned to the courts to have their complaints heard about GSA’s self-scoring methodology and how points were awarded for past experience.

In May 2022, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordered GSA to amend the solicitation and let bidders resubmit proposals.

On the eve of that new proposal deadline in November, Akima and Absolute Strategic Technologies filed protests with GAO complaining that GSA wasn’t allowing them to update their past performance and experience information. Akima also argued that GSA's position favored mentor-protégé firms.

On Feb. 5, GAO rejected those protests and sided with GSA.

This will clear GSA to make what industry widely expects to be hundreds of awards for Polaris, which will have no ceiling.

Software development, and IT operations and maintenance can also be purchased through Polaris.

GAO's decision opens the way for GSA to make award, but of course there is still a risk of protests against the final awards.