Polaris Pre-Award Protest: The New Normal for MACs?
The General Services Administration (GSA) issued the final Multiple Award Contract (MAC) RFPs for the Polaris women-owned Small Business (WOSB) and Small Business (SB) pools on March 25. This much anticipated information technology (IT) solicitation is the replacement for the Alliant 2 Small Business solicitation ($15 billion ceiling) which never made it to the final RFP.
The Polaris government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) will eventually include four different pools: SB, WOSB, historically underutilized business (HUB) zones as well as service disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB), replacing VETS 2. While 8(a) firms do not have a separate pool, they can apply for any of the Polaris pools for which they qualify as they await the STARS III RFP.
Almost as soon as the RFP was released, the first Polaris pre-award protest quickly followed. BD Squared filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on March 29 regarding provisions in the RFP that allow a mentor-protégé joint venture (JV) to rely solely on the experience of the large business mentor. Since mentor-protégé joint venture (JV) arrangements take several months to put together and bids are due May 13, small businesses that bid only their own experience could be at a disadvantage compared to these JVs. This reliance solely on large business experience may also violate Small Business Administration (SBA) rules, or at least the intent of these arrangements.
If NITAAC’s Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) RFP is any indicator, the BD Squared protest may inspire others to follow suit. The CIO-SP4 RFP resulted in 21 pre-award protests. Three were withdrawn, and GAO dismissed ten. Eight of these protests remain undecided.
Interestingly, the remaining protests also focus on mentor-protégé JVs, but from a different perspective. Protesters complain that the RFP allows only two large business experiences, restricting competition unduly and violating SBA regulations.
NITAAC allowed too few large business mentor experiences as part of the evaluation process, and GSA allowed too many?
No matter which way an agency goes with allowing the experience of large business mentor-protégé JVs to count toward evaluation points, some bidders will be at a disadvantage. GSA may find itself facing the same problem as NITAAC. As Abraham Lincoln said: “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time”.
Perhaps SBA needs to weigh in on the rules regarding mentor-protégé JVs, or Polaris may face amendment after amendment and delayed awards.
By Lisa Pafe, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, CPP APMP Fellow and PMI PMP
This article was originally published March 31, 2022 on WashingtonTechnology.com
Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Paperback or Kindle
Lohfeld Consulting Group Capture & Proposal Insights & Tips Volume 3
by Beth Wingate
contributors Brenda Crist, Bob Lohfeld, Wendy Frieman, Alexandra Wingate, Julia Quigley, Maryann Lesnick
Subscribe to our free ebrief
Teaming friends, frenemies, and enemies—12 tips to mitigate harmful effects
Did you know that contracting officers spend up to 20% of their time mitigating disputes between teaming partners? In an informal poll we conducted on LinkedIn last month, 40% of respondents classified their teaming partners as “frenemies” on their last bid.
- Advice (377)
- APMP (18)
- Business Development (173)
- Capture Management (174)
- Favorite Books (5)
- Go-to-Market (27)
- Graphics (5)
- Lohfeld Books (3)
- Past Performance (56)
- Post-submission Phase (15)
- Pre-RFP Preparation (173)
- Proposal Management (227)
- Proposal Production (46)
- Proposal Reviews (22)
- Proposal Writing (56)
- Pursuit Phase (78)
- Research Report (2)
- Resources (57)
- Tools & Tips (191)
- Training (10)
- Uncategorized (209)