GAO dismisses final CIO-SP4 protests

Photo courtesy National Institutes of Health

Awards will be announced by Nov. 1, and the ordering period of CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 small business will be extended.

The final two pre-award protests of the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center's (NITAAC) CIO-SP4 contract vehicle were dismissed by the Government Accountability Office, clearing the way for awards to be made on the 10-year, $50 billion contract vehicle.

NITAAC Deputy Director Ricky Clark told FCW that the awards will be announced before Nov. 1, 2022, and that NITAAC plans to extend the CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business vehicles for up to one year while CIO-SP4 contract holders are onboarded.

The CIO-SP3 ordering period is set to end on May 31, 2022. The period of performance on CIO-SP3 task orders closes five years after that.

A protest from Octo Consulting Group was dismissed on April 25 and a protest from Hendall Inc. was dismissed on April 21, bringing to a close an unusually active pre-award protest docket for the recompete of the Chief Information Officer - Solutions and Partners 4 contract vehicle.

According to a March report in Washington Technology, Octo and Hendall objected to NITAAC changing evaluation criteria without giving bidders the chance to revise their proposals. Earlier protests had flagged problems with the self-scoring system, which bidders cautioned would require them to violate confidentiality agreements with private sector customers.

In all, CIO-SP4 attracted more than two dozen protests since the request for proposals hit the street in May 2021. The solicitation was amended at multiple points to change arrangements for teaming and mentor-protégé arrangements. GAO sustained a protest last November from a vendor who argued that the differing submission requirements for mentor-protégé teams put those firms at a disadvantage. 

Additionally, vendors pointed to problems with the bid submission portal that necessitated an extension earlier this year.