GSA recently released new solicitations for the Small Business Pool and the Women Owned Small Business Pool. The Q&A has some additional details on the Polaris solicitation. As we’ve written about, the purpose of the Polaris solicitation is to provide federal agencies with information technology services from qualified small businesses. I’ll mention some of the highlights from both the solicitations and the update, which includes some more information on the timing for the solicitation, other small business pools, and other items. Also, GSA will be extending the due date for proposals.
Here are a few key items from the solicitation and the Q&A.
On April 6, GSA issued a notice stating it was examining how joint ventures would be handled:
After receiving feedback related to the evaluation of joint ventures under Polaris, GSA is currently assessing whether any changes are necessary for the RFPs. While completing this assessment, GSA is temporarily pausing the RFPs until further notice. A subsequent amendment will establish a new closing date.
So, the proposal due date will be extended after some deliberation by GSA.
Small Business and WOSB Solicitations
The solicitations appear to be quite similar, just covering different set-aside designations. Task orders will cover a wide variety of IT services, such as cloud computing and cybersecurity and many more.
- There will be an optional pre-proposal conference released online to provide an overview of the Polaris RFP.
- Polaris will use a Polaris Submission Portal (PSP), which will open for registration no earlier than April 5, 2022. Offerors must submit all questions regarding the solicitation via the PSP or they won’t be answered.
- “Individual task orders may require facility security clearances.”
- “When the rerepresentation identifies other than a small business, the novation will not be deemed to be in the Government’s best interest.” If there is a a merger or acquisition without novation and the company is no longer small, the contract will be terminated for convenience and task orders may continue at discretion of the CO.
The Polaris solicitation has the following definition of CTAs at section , which matches the definition under FAR 9.601.
L.5.1.3 Contractor Teaming Arrangements, if applicable
Contractor teaming arrangement (CTA) means an arrangement in which –
Two or more companies form a joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor; or
A potential prime contractor agrees with one or more other companies to have them act as its
subcontractors under a specified Government contract or acquisition program.
Section, L.22.214.171.124 Joint Venture, has a number of requirements for joint ventures. Be sure to pay close attention.
As noted within L.5.2.1, projects submitted as Primary Relevant Experience Projects or Emerging Technology Relevant Experience Projects may not be used in more than one proposal for this Pool. Separate members of a joint venture may submit their unique projects from the same joint venture contract or order; however, the same project may not be used in more than one proposal for this Pool. Projects used in more than one proposal for this Pool will be removed from all proposals and will not be evaluated as part of any Offeror’s proposal.
That language appears to require joint venture members to split up their work done as part of a joint venture for purposes of experience.
As for subcontractors, the solicitation has fewer details and requirements. It does state that “The Offeror and all proposed subcontractors must represent as small businesses for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 541512 within SAM.gov.” This is interesting as it would appear to not allow large business subcontractors.
“The Offeror must submit a Subcontractor Letter of Commitment for each proposed subcontractor.” In addition, there is a requirement for subcontract reporting.
Here are some of the key updates from the recent Q&A.
Nuts and Bolts
- Timeline. GSA said that the RFPs for HUBZone and SDVOSB RFPS are expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.
- Submission method. GSA wants companies to use the Symphony Polaris Submission Portal, with details to come later.
There are detailed requirements for claiming experience, so be sure to review those closely. For instance, note that “Non-federal Contracts are not eligible to receive points for elements L.126.96.36.199, L.188.8.131.52, L.184.108.40.206, or L.220.127.116.11.” That makes sense because these sections all deal with federal contracts, but it does mean that higher point totals would likely go to offerors with federal experience.
Points will now be awarded for CPA certified accounting systems, whereas before points were only available for DCAA or DCMA certified systems. The CPA certified systems are worth less than government certified systems.
There are, of course, detailed rules relating to the self-scoring system, that any offeror must review thoroughly.
Those are a few of the highlights from the Polaris solicitation. But GSA is already going back to the drawing board on joint ventures. So stay tuned for more updates.