With summer half over, it’s time for those in the Information Technology industry to begin preparing their scorecards and supporting documentation in anticipation of the next large Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC): GSA’s Polaris. GSA plans to release the final RFP in the fall of 2021, and offerors should expect a quick turnaround. The agency already issued a draft RFP and scorecard (see M.6 in the draft RFP) to help businesses prepare their proposals ahead of time.
Based on the draft RFP, GSA will use the scorecard element of the Polaris proposal to eliminate the lower scoring contractors. Additionally, the Relevant Experience and Past Performance will account for more than 70% of an offeror’s score. This approach is similar to the ongoing Health IT-related opportunity Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4), a GWAC issued in late May by the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC).
As bidders on CIO-SP4 now know, it is critical to prepare a draft scorecard ahead of time with teaming partners, if necessary. NITAAC issued amendment after amendment, allowing — and then disallowing — past performance points from teaming partners that bidders were depending on to maximize their score. The lesson learned in preparation for Polaris is to be prepared with multiple examples of corporate experience and, if possible, a deep bench of vetted teammates to fill gaps. NITAAC issued nine amendments for CIO-SP4, including significant changes to teaming partner arrangements and the supporting documentation required to prove corporate experience and teaming relationships.
The best way to avoid getting knocked out of contention by an RFP amendment is to prepare as much as possible and cover all of your bases. This includes giving yourself enough time to perform a gap analysis, review teaming decisions, and draft past performance narratives if your current write-ups are weak or focused incorrectly.
Small businesses will have to be very selective with their partners for Polaris. Bidders will propose past performance projects that align to the following Performance Areas:
- Cloud Services
- Data Management
- Information and Communications Technology
- IT Operations and Maintenance
- Software Development
- System Design
- Ancillary Support: Services, Supplies, and Construction
Small businesses can also offer past performance projects for the Emerging Technologies Performance Areas:
- Advanced and Quantum Computing
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Automation Technology
- Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
- Edge Computing
- Immersive Technology
But there’s a catch. Bidders are limited to a total of seven, distinct past performance projects, and they will receive extra points for:
- Project value is within any of the following levels:
- Project Value is greater than or equal to $2 Million but less than $5 Million
- Project Value is greater than or equal to $5 Million but less than $15 Million
- Project Value is greater than or equal to $15 Million
- Projects Demonstrating Experience with Multiple Federal Government Customers
- Project is a Cost-Reimbursement Contract
- Project is a Task Order Award Against a Multiple-Award IDIQ Contract
- Project in an OCONUS Location
- Project with Subcontracting
- Project including Cloud Services
- Project including Cybersecurity Services
- Project’s Breadth of Primary Relevant Experience Performance Areas (extra points if your project includes 2 or more Performance Areas)
OST Global Solutions is here to help maximize your score on your Polaris bid. We will help you develop a draft scorecard, perform a gap analysis to ensure that you make the cut-off score, and find ways to help you out-distance your competition. We will help evaluate strategies for teaming partners, perform capture to develop your win strategy, and prepare a compelling and compliant proposal. No matter how much assistance you require, we’re here to help.
Contact us to learn more.
GSA Small Business GWACs provide customer agencies an efficient way to access highly qualified small business information technology (IT) service providers. For Polaris, GSA is looking to expand the industry partner base, provide greater access to emerging technologies, simplify proposal submission requirements and improve the overall customer experience.
Experienced Small Businesses (SBs) providing Information Technology (IT) solutions and services are all set to benefit from the General Service Administration’s (GSA) next-generation Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) named “Polaris.” GSA has released a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Polaris GWAC, which is a family of Multiple Award, Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts to provide customized IT services and IT services-based solutions, including the use of new and emerging technologies. Using Polaris, GSA streamlines it for Federal buyers to procure the next generation of IT services-based solutions. The Draft RFP at System for Award Management will provide new opportunities to previously under-represented small IT businesses of different socio-economic categories. Polaris is the replacement for the $15B Alliant 2 SB (A2SB) and is likely to have a promising dollar value.
Polaris GWAC strives to leverage the best-in-class practices of GSA STARS III contract vehicle. SBA spending data shows that several Federal agencies fall short of Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) procurement goals, precipitating an urgent need for a better contract vehicle. Polaris will bridge this huge gap and go a long way in realizing the Government’s vision of innovation and cutting-edge technologies. It has an ordering period of one 5-year base and one 5-year option period. The primary NAICS code is 541512, though other IT services NAICS may also be used by GSA, and the small business size standard is $30M.
According to the draft RFP, GSA will conduct an “Organizational Risk Assessment” that favors teams or partners with a history of working together. The lack of a prior history of working together will result in a lesser score for this scoring factor.
Polaris includes Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) requirements, which offerors must keep in mind. Additionally, offerors who have systems, certifications, and clearances such as audited cost accounting system, approved purchasing system, CMMI Services Level 2 or higher certification, ISO 9001:2015, ISO 20000-1:2018, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, and Facility Clearance Level will be considered more favorably.