John Hewitt Jones
The Authorities Accountability Workplace has sustained a pre-award protest over the CIO-SP4 solicitation by which plaintiffs argued the procurement unfairly deprived massive firms in mentor-protégé preparations.
In a choice Tuesday, the oversight physique agreed that restrictions on the quantity of proof of prior expertise that giant firms are in a position to present are unfair and beneficial that the Nationwide Institutes of Well being Info Know-how Acquisition and Evaluation Middle (NITAAC) both amend the solicitation or present additional justification for the necessities.
“[A]lthough the solicitation provision will not be expressly prohibited by small enterprise legal guidelines or rules, the company doesn’t set up that the restriction is cheap, and the place the company doesn’t fairly clarify why mentor-protégé joint ventures with small enterprise mentors are handled otherwise,” GAO stated in its opinion.
The present CIO-SP4 solicitation restricts massive firms in mentor-protégé preparations from submitting greater than two items of proof in help of a bid.
GAO discovered that NITAAC didn’t present a rationale for the choice and beneficial that the company ought to both rethink the restrictions or present additional justification to contractors.
The choice is the newest flip for the broadly contested procurement that up to now has been the topic of 21 pre-award bid protests with the GAO.
The bid protest was filed with GAO by Laptop World Companies Company (CWS) and CWS FMTI JV.
Though it agreed with the plaintiffs’ problem that the solicitation limits expertise examples for giant companies, GAO rejected two additional complaints in regards to the solicitation.
First, GAO rejected an argument that companies are forbidden from making an improper duty willpower primarily based on the expertise of a protégé member. GAO additionally rejected the rivalry that bidders have been improperly required to submit details about the obligated worth of prior contracts.
Mentor-protégé preparations are a facet of federal contracting rules for small companies overseen by the Small Enterprise Administration, that are designed to foster innovation. They permit bigger firms to work with smaller entities and to make use of their prior contract expertise to vouch for junior companies participating in a three way partnership.
Talking to FedScoop, Michelle Litteken, lawyer for the plaintiffs, stated NITAAC had failed to offer a great rationalization for what it was attempting to realize with the particular restriction on the submission of proof.
“I don’t assume NITAAC took a step again earlier than issuing the solicitation,” she stated.
NITAAC couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.
In September, FedScoop reported on issues raised by sources over mentor-protégé necessities included within the CIO-SP4 solicitation.
On the time, business sources expressed concern over lack of readability about how a points-based analysis system could be used to guage bids from firms in mentor-protégé necessities and on the time warned it might preclude some smaller firms from utilizing the monitor report of mentor firms.
In keeping with federal authorities estimates, the contract needs to be awarded by February 2022. Federal contracting sources have questioned this timeline.