Polaris Replacing Alliant 2

This past July, GSA put to rest the Aliant 2 Small Business contract. The just last week, GSA released a draft RFP named Polaris, a Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) to provide customized Information Technology (IT) services-based solutions.  The draft RFP breaks out small business contractors into specific “pools,” for Small Business, HUBZone Small Businesses, and Women Owned Small Businesses. GSA reserves the right to add additional pools when deemed necessary. (beta.SAM.gov, December 31, 2020)

According to the draft RFP, Polaris will provide agencies with customized IT services and IT services-based solutions, which can be tailored to meet particular mission needs and may include any combination of IT services and new and emerging technologies. (ibid)

GSA encourages contractors to provide innovative solutions to task order requirements prioritizing emerging technologies.  Examples of emerging technologies included within the draft RFP are:

  • Advanced and Quantum Computing — cryptography/encryption, secure communications, design of high-performance computers, computer clusters, and networks, Quantum Machine Learning
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) — Computer Vision, Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP),  Spatial Computing, Speech Recognition
  • Automation technology — Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Automated Messaging Services, Data Cleaning Scripts, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Smart Notification
  • Distributed ledger technology — Blockchain Implementation Solutions, DLT Network Design Services, Smart Contract Programming Services
  • Edge computing — 5G Implementation Services, Edge Analytics, Edge Application Services, Edge Computing Architecture Design Services, Internet of Things (IoT) Services
  • Immersive technology  — Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality

Examples of Performance areas within the draft RFP are as follows:

  • Cloud Services
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Management
  • Information and Communications Technologies
  • IT Operations and Maintenance
  • Software Development
  • System Design

Contractors may “provide ancillary support as necessary to offer an IT services-based solution,” but, as with the GSA Schedule, only “when it is integral to and necessary for the IT services-based effort.” (ibid)

Contractors should take note of the security considerations as purchasers may be from the Department of Defense as well as civilian agencies. In particular, the Defense Department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification is a developing regulation and requirement included in the draft RFP. Additional Cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) requirements are expected to also be included. (ibid)

All draft RFP feedback is due by 4:00 PM Central Time, January 29, 2021.

Have questions concerning the draft RFP, who can respond, and how? Give us a call.

Can Alliant 2 Be “Newer, Better” ?

GSA has finally put us all out of our Alliant 2 Small Business misery. Last week they canceled the acquisition contract. The original award was wrought with confusion, protests, and court disputes, so cancellation isn’t that surprising. (Nextgov, July 2, 2020)

However, GSA promises that the small business IT instrument will live on in a newer, better solicitation. Keep your eyes peeled for the larger and newly structured solicitation. No word yet on the release date of the new solicitation. (ibid)

Laura Stanton, acting GSA Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Information Technology when announcing the cancelation said, “The needs of our customer agencies, small business partners, and industry partners are rapidly evolving, GSA is committed to finding ways for our GWACs to reflect the current IT marketplace so that we can maximize the opportunities for small and women-owned, HUBzone, service-disables veteran-owned, and 8(a) small businesses to contract with the government for cybersecurity, emerging technology, and IT supply chain risk management needs.”

Stanton also said, “we are working to expand the number of master contract awards to highly qualified small businesses on our GWACs, while focusing on technology requirements that support our customer agencies for future mission success.” (ibid)

Questions about the cancellation and or the upcoming solicitation? Give us a call.

GSA, Pandemic Style

GSA is moving quickly to enact several initiatives while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the current state of emergency necessitates the Federal Acquisition Service to purchase medical supplies and other equipment at a fast clip, Contracting Officers have no choice but to react with a fair amount of speed and flexibility. (Federal News Network, May 1, 2020)

This includes:

  • changing policies for prompt payment and onboarding/offboarding of contractors
  • construction of the new e-commerce marketplace platform, which was paused during the first few weeks of the pandemic, is now moving forward, albeit at a much slower pace
  • monitoring other initiatives possibly impacting by the pandemic, such as Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)
  • continuing corrective actions on Alliant 2 revised proposals
  • expanding the small business innovation research (SBIR) program, part three

Some government markets, like travel, have declined; however cleaning products and enhanced screening services have increased exponentially. (ibid)

Any questions about getting your product or service in front of government buyers? Give us a call.

The Eagle (II) is Not Landing

DHS will not be recompeting their EAGLE II IT services contract when it expires in 2020. They are moving toward a strategy called EAGLE Next Gen, which allows them to rely on existing contracts in order to meet IT services needs. Agile development and special or niche mission needs will be met by smaller targeted contracts competed as necessary. (Nextgov, April 20, 2019)

The EAGLE Next Gen strategy is just that, a strategy whereby DHS would use already established governmentwide acquisition contracts or GWACs. These include:

  • the National Institutes of Health’s CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business
  • GSA’s Alliant 2, 8(a) STARS II
  • GSA’s VETS 2

When requirements cannot be met by this strategy, DHS will build in-house contracts.

So far, DHS is beginning to build an in-house contract for cloud and data center optimization. Over 100 responses were received from their initial RFI. Most likely, resulting RFPs will ultimately be the family of contracts under DHS Next Gen, and are expected in the Fall. (ibid)

Some Homeland Security components are still using EAGLE II to support their agile development. Work with each of the components is at various phases of the procurement process. Each component has different requirements; therefore procurements will be specialized to meet individual needs. (ibid)

The future procurement strategy is far from finalized. There may be full and open competition or a blanket purchase agreement using pre-vetted vendors.

Would you like to learn more about the EAGLE Next Gen strategy and where you might fit in? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.

 

Alliant2 Be or Not to Be

Alliant2 Small Business, the largest contract in over a decade for government-wide IT services, was recently rescinded by GSA.  (Nextgov, March 2019)

Over a year ago, GSA announced the Alliant2 award to 81 small businesses. Protests immediately ensued. One company, Citizant, Inc., protested to the GAO, who dismissed the file, so Citizant took their complaints to court and won, resulting in the rescission of the awards and GSA revisiting their scoring methodology. (ibid)

Evaluation of bidders differed from the last iteration of Alliant, with rumors of contracting officer bias and arbitrary bid pricing scores bubbling under. Many believe GSA’s self-scoring system allowed companies that should have been eliminated early on to continue through the process. Time will tell if each submission will be rescored or just those below the cutoff, although the judge requires GSA to rescore all. (Federal News Network, April 1)

If only a handful of submissions are rescored, the protest floodgates are likely to open again, possibly forcing a re-compete. Making awards to multiple companies have proven time and again that it is nearly impossible to compare apples to apples during the evaluation process. The process raises a lot of questions. Stay tuned.

We are always available to talk to you about this or other contracting problems. Give us a call at 301-913-5000.