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FCW : January and February 2017
In January, the Government Account- ability Office ruled against a group of businesses protesting aspects of the solicitation for the General Services Administration’s $50 billion Alliant 2 contract. Several companies had filed pre- award protests, and with this last batch, GSA has prevailed in all of them. There are now no pending pro- tests involving Alliant 2, which means GSA is no longer barred from award- ing the contract. But with as many as 60 winners expected, GSA is still many months away from announcing who will win spots on the contract. The agency is using a self-scor- ing process for the proposals — an approach GSA pioneered with the One Acquisition Solution for Integrat- ed Services contract. Bidders assign themselves points for relevant expe- rience, past performance, systems, certifications and clearances, and organizational risk assessment. The Alliant 2 solicitation provided for a total of 83,100 points. Bidders must provide documents to support their scores. Sevatec, InfoReliance, Enterprise Information Services, and Buchanan and Edwards all filed protests with GAO questioning how pricing was evaluated, how points were assigned for small businesses and whether GSA was going to make enough awards to ensure competition at the task-order level. GAO denied all those protests. In the area of pricing, GSA is using a process known as “highest techni- cally rated with a fair and reasonable price.” The protesters complained that the Federal Acquisition Regulation does not allow for that type of evalu- ation, but GAO disagreed. Although the FAR only talks about “lowest price technically acceptable” and best-value trade-off evaluations, GAO concluded that the FAR recognizes that “these two processes are not the only source- selection processes available.” GAO also denied charges that GSA’s evaluation process violated the Com- petition in Contracting Act and denied protestors’ claims that the self-scoring process was not proper because it did not allow for comparison of bidders’ strengths and weaknesses. There were also objections to how small-business prime contrac- tors received points when they were leading teams of subcontrac- tors with whom they hadn’t worked before. GSA sees risks with teams that haven’t worked together before, and GAO found that concern to be legitimate. The argument that 60 prime con- tractors would not provide enough competition was interesting because the protesters used an analysis of Alliant 1 that found roughly half of the task orders had only one bidder. But GSA countered that it has added participation requirements to Alliant 2 to ensure competition, such as mak- ing prime contractors bid on a mini- mum number of task orders each year. There is also a requirement that prime contractors perform a certain amount of work each year. GAO ruled that it was a reasonable approach to ensure competition. More protests to come? On large contracts like Alliant, post- award protests are almost guaranteed. But it’s possible that GSA might have effectively made Alliant 2 bulletproof. If one reads GAO’s decision closely, there is not a whole lot left to protest. WTInsider What to make of the Alliant 2 protest rulings BY NICK WAKEMAN With pre-award protests all resolved in GSA’s favor, is the $50 billion IT services contract now bulletproof? 28 January/February 2017 FCW.COM Washington Technology, a sister publication to FCW, covers all the ins and outs of the IT contracting community. Learn more at WashingtonTechnology.com. 0217fcw_028-029.indd 28 1/24/17 9:45 AM
November and December 2016