Is the Alliant 2 finish line farther away than ever?

Bidders were surprised yet again by a second two-week extension on the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Alliant 2 Small Business (SB) and Unrestricted procurements. Bids are now due on Oct. 7. The finish line of final awards seems farther away than ever.

With regard to the original extension, GSA stated that the purpose was to give bidders time to obtain contracting officer (CO) signatures. However, a second two-week extension raises questions as to what is happening behind the scenes.

Pre-award protest filed and withdrawn, but another protest filed

A protest was filed on Aug. 10 by Enterprise Information Services Inc., (GAO file no. B-413559.1.) This protest was subsequently withdrawn. On Sept. 14, Evolver Inc. filed its own protest (GAO file no. B-413559.2. Both companies are mid-tier in size.

While GSA allows teaming for small businesses, giving them more options for meeting the rigid relevant experience and past performance standards, mid-tier companies of smaller size are still voicing concerns over restricted competition on Alliant 2 Unrestricted.

Related protest resolved in favor of GSA

The GSA Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTs) procurement had a similar evaluation and scoring approach as GSA Alliant 2. HCaTs resulted in 26 protests. One such protest by Sevatec Inc. (GAO file no. B-413155.11) was denied, with the outcome favoring GSA. Sevatec asserted that “the elimination of its proposal was unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation.” Essentially, Sevatec was eliminated for a relatively minor compliance infraction. GAO denied the protest, stating:

“Where solicitation required offerors to provide evidence of past experience ‘within a verifiable contractual document,’ the agency reasonably determined that protester’s submission of an unsigned contract modification document was insufficient to meet the solicitation requirements.”

This protest is very pertinent to Alliant 2 because the solicitation requires a voluminous amount of contractual documentation for both Product Service Code and Leading Edge Technology experience examples. Bidders should take note and carefully check and double check compliance to avoid elimination.

Alliant 2 issues remain

As I recently wrote, smaller mid-tiers in particular point to a perceived lack of competition related to the NAICS code, number of awards, and evaluation approach. Protests could relate to the argument that the technical or past performance evaluation is unreasonable, with unduly restrictive provisions. However, as the recent HCaTs protest decision indicates, once proposals are submitted, bidders will not be successful in arguing that elimination due to compliance oversight is unreasonable.

What’s a bidder to do?

The best thing prospective offerors can do is to use the extra time allotted to check and double check compliance. If possible, it is also wise to research if the extension allows for inclusion of more or better PSCs or LETs. In any case, it is looking more and more possible that GSA Alliant 2 will not be award in 2017.

This article was originally published on September 21, 2016 in Washington Technology.

By Lisa Pafe, Managing Director at Lohfeld Consulting Group. Lisa is a CPP APMP Fellow, PMI PMP, speaker, LinkedIn Publisher, and ISO Internal Auditor with more than 25 years of capture and proposal experience for small to large companies serving civilian and defense agencies. She is the President of the APMP-NCA Chapter and was the Chapter’s Vice President and Speaker Series Chair for 2 years each. Prior experience includes: VP of Corporate Development at Ace Info Solutions, Inc.; President of Vision Consulting, Inc.; VP of Business Development for GovConnect, Inc.; and Director of Marketing for MAXIMUS, Inc. She holds a BA from Yale University, MPP from Harvard University, and MIS from The George Washington University.

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