Another six-month extension for CIO-SP3 wedmakawand

This takes place as the National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition arm works to clear out over 100 protests against the CIO-SP4 IT contract.

The National Institutes of Health has added another six months of runway to the CIO-SP3 IT solutions contract to head off any gap between that third version of the vehicle and version four, which remains mired in bid protests.

A total of 119 bid protests remain active at the Government Accountability Office and as long as they are unresolved, NIH's IT Acquisition and Assessment Center cannot make awards on the $50 billion IT vehicle.

With the extension, agencies can place orders against CIO-SP3 through Oct. 29. That means task orders can continue to deliver services into the start of government fiscal year 2029.

The challenge for NITAAC now is to get those protests of the way. How they do that remains unclear.

Over 300 protests have been filed against CIO-SP4, most of those challenging the self-scoring methodology and threshold that companies need to surpass to be considered for an award. Much of the protestors claim the threshold is arbitrary and favors small businesses that are teamed with large businesses.

With each round of protests, NITAAC has taken corrective actions aimed at addressing the complaints. NITAAC has even released a preliminary list of small businesses it intends to make awards to, but the result has always been more protests.

We’ve reached out to NITAAC with questions about the extension and what it means for the protests, but they have not responded to those questions yet.

Given the six-month extension, there is enough time for the Government Accountability Office to adjudicate the current protests. GAO could deny the protests, but could also tell NITAAC it should to rework the solicitation and the self-scoring methodology.

A GAO decision is due in July, so there might be time for NITAAC to rework things if needed. But that depends on the nature of the decision.

My expectation is that NITAAC will take another corrective action. But unless they let all bidders onto the contract, then they will likely find themselves facing more protests again.