NIH CIO-SP4 contract hit with 97 protests

No, that's not a typo. Nearly 100 companies are objecting to the cut-off line NITAAC set for the $50 billion CIO-SP4 competition. They claim it is arbitrary. No word back from NITAAC yet.

We knew more protests were coming for the small business portion of the CIO-SP4 contract when we reported last week that at least 13 new protests had been filed against the $50 billion contract with another 10 in the wings.

But we would never have guessed the number of protests would swell to 97. We haven’t seen this volume of protests since probably 2013 when the Homeland Security Department was trying to award Eagle II.

CIO-SP4 is a very different animal than Eagle II in that the NIT Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center is using a self-scoring mechanism to eliminate companies from the competition during phase one.

If your score doesn’t reach a certain threshold, then you are eliminated from the competition.

So far all of the protests have been by small businesses.

Ten companies filed protests earlier and NITAAC took a corrective action to rethink the point threshold for those companies.

Apparently NITAAC reset the threshold to another level, which let those companies back in but still left at least 97 companies out in the cold.

The 97 companies filing new protests are arguing that NITAAC has set an arbitrary score as the threshold.

NITAAC hasn’t responded to requests for comment, which isn’t surprising given that this is an active protest.

But if NITAAC takes another corrective action, where does that leave us? Will that mean a total reset of CIO-SP4, at least the small portion? What would a reset mean for the companies who surpassed the self-scoring threshold.?

The legal sources I’ve talked to say they are withholding any predictions until they see what NITAAC says in its corrective action, which they expect the agency to take.

The agency has 30 days to respond to the protests. If it doesn’t take a corrective action, a decision by GAO is expected in mid-February.

I’ve been following some of the discussion over on LinkedIn. Some folks think that NITAAC has made some grave errors otherwise you wouldn’t see so many protests.

Others though see sour grapes because how the self-scoring would be implemented was clear in the solicitation. The time to protest is long gone, they are saying.

Time will tell which side is correct.