Following on the heels of the successful OASIS SB Protest in February, a new decision against one of GSA’s Best In Class contract vehicles has been handed down this month. This time, the $15 billion Alliant 2 Small Business (SB) contract vehicle is on the receiving end of the bad news. On March 26, all contract awards made under the Alliant 2 SB GWAC were rescinded.
Awards were issued to 81 companies in February 2018, however, a slew of protests prevented task orders from being issued under the contract. There are no on-ramps or open seasons planned for Alliant 2 SB, so the protests carry even greater weight for these companies. Additionally, contract vehicle consolidations make awards on large, high profile vehicles like the Alliant series even more valuable. DHS recently announced that EAGLE II would not be recompeted as it previously existed; instead, there will be an EAGLE Next Gen “umbrella” that will utilize existing IT contract vehicles as the first source of procurement. Alliant 2 SB is among the vehicles listed under this umbrella.
Of the protests that were lodged with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), all of the protests had been either dismissed or withdrawn by January of this year. However, some of the protesting companies were not satisfied and brought their complaints to court. Of these, Citizant, Inc., was just issued a winning decision. Citizant’s case proved that errors were made. These mistakes involved erroneously crediting some bids with acceptable cost accounting systems and scoring bid price evaluations in an inconsistent manner. The result of this decision led to the rescission of all awards.
Consequently, the submitted proposals will be re-scored, and new award decisions will be made. The RFP will not be re-released and new proposals will not be accepted. Though unlikely, it is possible that this decision will set off another round of protests that will lead to recompeting the contract as a whole. Recently, SSES Next Gen had its SB on-ramp canceled after a prolonged period in Source Selection. It was found that the awards were no longer needed and that other outlets for the task orders existed. With the other options available for releasing IT contracts (including Alliant 2 Unrestricted), the consequences of further battles and delays for this vehicle could be dire. Alliant 2 Unrestricted also faced protests and court battles, but won each case, and started issuing tasks last July.
Looking beyond this decision, we have to wonder if GSA is now rethinking their scoring systems and the recompetes on these large contract vehicles. The OASIS contract vehicles were initially regarded as being almost protest-proof with their transparent scoring and awards based solely on the company’s scores. Guarantees were made that the same criteria and minimum scores would be required in all recompetes and on-ramps. However, the need for a larger awardee pool first led to relaxing the score requirements. Then, in the most recent on-ramp for Pool 1, a successful protest was lodged. Three additional on-ramps for OASIS SB that are scheduled for this year are being delayed while the repercussions of this decision are evaluated.
The Alliant 2 recompetes used similar scoring methods, with self-scoring sheets provided to the potential bidders, and awards made based on scores that reach a certain threshold. Protests were lodged based on inconsistent scoring, and changes to the scoring methods between the initial Alliant contracts and the follow-ons. As companies become more familiar with the scoring methods and spend time analyzing the scores from the first rounds on each contract, are successful protests of later award rounds more likely? Have companies found the vulnerabilities in the solicitations? GSA prides itself on its “Best in Class” contract vehicles. To maintain that prestige, they may need to carefully reexamine their procurement rules and processes.
Keep up to date on the Alliant 2 SB fallout through the Alliant 2 GWAC page in GSA Interact. Keep up to date on the most relevant government contracting news and commentary from Capture2 through our online blog and resources.