Complaints mount about NITAAC's slow payment plan for CIO-SP4 protests naruecha jenthaisong

ANALYSIS | Many of the companies who won protests over the CIO-SP4 contract still have not been reimbursed for their costs and they are not happy about it.

In the summer of 2023, the Government Accountability Office told the National Institutes of Health to reimburse CIO-SP4 protesters for the costs associated with filing and pursing their successful challenges.

GAO's decisions came down in late June and early July of that year and involved a total of 90 companies, who had objected to how the NIH IT Acquisition and Assessment Center managed the $50 billion CIO-SP4 vehicle.

The contract has still not been awarded and NITAAC currently is facing a group of lawsuits at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

But a new issue has surfaced for NITAAC as many of the companies who prevailed in the GAO protests are still waiting for NIH to reimburse them for costs.

Sources have indicated that a settlement was reached in August that lowered the amount GAO had to pay. The thought was that NIH could start paying more quickly.

But for many the reimbursement has not come yet.

In May, MicroTech asked GAO for help by filing what is called a bid protest for costs. That file is still open at GAO with an August due date for a decision.

Meanwhile, many other companies are complaining about not being reimbursed even just the lower settlement amount.

A NITAAC spokesperson said that the agency has been paying the costs to companies but the process has been slower than expected.

Part of this is because of budgetary constraints and the continuing resolution, the spokesperson said.

But the companies will be paid.

“We cannot not pay them,” she said.

The spokesperson didn’t say how many companies have been paid so far.

She also could not address the complaints that NITAAC has been slow to communicate and seems to ignore emails and other communications.

That might be why the reassuring words from NITAAC may ring hollow to the companies still waiting for payment, given that we are coming up on 10 months of waiting.

A couple of things could happen from here. Companies could go back to GAO as MicroTech has done. Companies could also take NIH to the U.S. Court of Federal claims and sue for breach of contract.

Or NIH could speed up its payment plan.