NOTE: As we were preparing to go to press with this article, we learned of several pre-award protests filed with the GAO on CIO-SP4. Since NITAAC is not obliged to pause the procurement or release an extension because of the protests, we recommend that companies press ahead with their CIO-SP4 proposal preparation assuming the current due date, unless and until NITAAC releases a new amendment and/or extension.
NITAAC released the CIO-SP4 RFP Amendment 5 on July 5th, 2021. The big news surrounding this Amendment was an extension to July 23rd from the amended due date of July 8th. The intent of this Amendment and extension was to clear up the confusion surrounding the updated requirements that were introduced in Amendments 3 and 4 in late June. The question is: Did Amendment 5 clear up the confusion enough for bidders to submit compliant bids on July 23rd?
This article identifies the areas that were confusing prior to Amendment 5 and analyzes if this new amendment has addressed each of the issues. Where the Government has left vague or open-ended language, we provide our thoughts on the best solutions to solve the inconsistencies.
- 6 Self Scoring Sheet Documentation – Amendment 3 introduced a new requirement to validate Offerors’ Scoresheet totals in the form of a J.6 form that needs to be completed for every scored element. Amendment 5 officially names this document J.6 in all areas clearing up some confusion over its name. Unfortunately, Amendment 5 does not clarify whether these forms will need to be signed upon Offerors moving towards Phase II of the evaluation. There is language in the RFP that states that, if an FPDS-NG printout of an offeror’s experience is provided, a signature is not needed. But later, in the same paragraph, the RFP states that a J.6 signature will be required a week after notification of getting to Phase II of the evaluation.
Our recommendation – Use the time between now and the due date to get signatures on all J.6 forms for submittal on July 23rd, unless NITAAC releases an amendment to revise the instruction language to make this clear. Also note that on July 6th NITAAC posted a clarification on sam.gov that bidders can use either the Amendment 3 version of the J.6 form or the Amendment 5 version.
- Additional Documentation – Amendment 3 deleted all language in the instructions requiring documentation to be provided to validate Corporate Experience scoring. In the same amendment, there were questions surrounding documentation that could be provided where the Government answered that “It was up to the Offeror’s discretion.” This has caused confusion amongst bidders and will lead to very different approaches from all bidders on documentation.
Our recommendation – We believe it is the Government’s intent to receive only FPDS-NG forms and completed J.6 documents. Giving bidders the opportunity to submit additional documentation would create inconsistent proposal submissions and make the evaluation more challenging for NITAAC.
- Total Contract Value – The Government provided answers to questions (see questions 55 and 56) regarding total contract value for Leading Edge Technology and Multiple Award Schedules that stated the following:
Dollar Values are calculated for Leading Edge Technology and MAS by calculating the obligated up to the date of submission – obligated not contract ceiling, options, NTE, etc. – dollar amounts for each experience.
This contradicts the way that Corporate Experience Total Contract Value is being determined:
The dollar value of the corporate experience example is the total value of the contract including options.
Our recommendation – Unless NITAAC releases an amendment to add the language from the questions and answers to Section L for LET and MAS scoring or explicitly state how TCV will be calculated for LET and MAS in Section L, we recommend that companies adhere to the differences in how NITAAC is requesting to see the contract value as reflected in the Q&A.
- File Naming Conventions – The Government has provided Offerors with a file naming structure in Amendment 5. Offerors are to provide all files with a structure that provides the Offeror’s DUNS Number, the Volume Number, the Phase Number, and the Section number in their File Name. Offerors are not to provide folders of information in their submissions. The Government has not provided a list of all the names of all of the files, but this amendment provides much needed information on the response structure.
- Mentor Protégé – There have been a lot of questions regarding the Government’s instructions to allow only 1 Corporate Experience example per task area from an OTSB Mentor in an SBA approved Mentor Protégé Joint Venture. Amendment 5 does not change this, but the Government did provide the following response in their cover letter:
There is a concern that the limitation on the amount of experience credit that large businesses can provide in mentor-protégé partnerships is not applied equally to all Contractor Teaming Arrangements (CTAs). However, per the instructions in the solicitation, any vendors entering a CTA, as defined under FAR 9.601(1) that want to be considered for small business set-asides, can only do so if members of the CTA are small.
It appears that their justification is that an SBA approved MP JV will receive a Small Business set aside award and that there is justification in limiting the experience of the Mentor. As we understand it, there is not uniform agreement among the legal community with NITAAC’s interpretation.
Our recommendation: Unless NITAAC provides clarification, since the solicitation has not been changed, teams should follow the current limitations on the number of experience examples OTSB members of an MPJV include in a bid.
- FAR 9.601(2) – Amendment 5 does not change the update of allowing FAR 9.601(2) teaming partners. However, Section M currently lists their evaluation of CTAs as:
M.1.1 Contract Team Arrangements
As stated in paragraph L.3.7, the Government will consider all members of a FAR 9.601(1) CTA for purposes of evaluation under the contract, provided that the Offeror submits a full and complete copy of the document establishing the CTA relationship containing at least the minimum information required by the solicitation closing date.
Our recommendation: We believe that it is an oversight that Section M does not include FAR 9.601(2) CTA teaming partners as being considered in the evaluation, so teams planning to bid as 9.601(2) prime/sub teams should proceed.
- 2/J.3 and Resume Placement – Previously there was some confusion on where to provide questionnaires for Past Performance and Resumes for the Management volume. Are they to be separate files because there are no page limits on them, or should they be provided as an appendix to their rightful volume?
Our recommendation – The Volume V forms J.2 and J.3 should be included in the Past Performance volume file as “Section 1” (per the table in RFP Section L.5). The resume should be provided in a separate file, following the naming convention added in RFP Section L.5.
- Cover Pages – There was contradicting language provided in Amendment 3 and the Q&A on whether Cover Pages, Tables of Contents, and other administrative material would be allowed. NITAAC’s Questions and Answers document said that they were allowed, but the amended RFP stated that any pages provided in addition to those being evaluated would count towards page limits. The new RFP amends the language to allow for Cover Pages and other administrative pages outside the page limits provided.
While Amendment 5 has provided an updated timeline for submission, it has not resolved all of the issues that exist in this RFP. Until these issues are resolved, bidders are having a hard time determining what is and what is not allowed and whether or not their bid is even compliant. We hope that this article and our recommendations provide some useful guidance.