GSA has been hard at work on the Polaris solicitation. The goal: provide federal agencies with information technology services from qualified small businesses. GSA recently released the updated draft versions of the submission instructions and evaluation criteria for Polaris. Like CIO-SP4, which we blogged on in detail, Polaris is going to be of interest to many small business IT contractors. So, here are a few highlights from the draft sections.
GSA has indicated that the changes to the solicitation include the following:
- Inclusion of a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) pool
- Reduction of the minimum dollar thresholds for relevant experience
- Reduction to the number of potential relevant experience project submissions
- Revisions to clarify proposal requirements
Here are are a few more details about these changes.
Small Business Issues
The draft RFP now includes an SDVOSB pool. In addition, a “small business concern may participate under multiple proposals (e.g., offeror, proposed subcontractor, joint venture member)” but each Relevant Experience project can be used in only one proposal per pool. An offeror can use the same proposal for multiple pools, for instance the HUBZone pool and small business pool.
“Polaris will consist of four MA/IDIQ contracts, referred to as Pools. Multiple awards shall be made in each
of the four Pools. The Government intends to make awards in each pool up to the Qualifying Number
(QN)”, which are:
- Small Business Pool: 100
- HUBZone Pool: 60
- SDVOSB Pool: 70
- WOSB Pool: 80
Note that “cost and pricing information shall not be considered at the Master Contract level.”
There are a number of requirements for submitting an offer as a joint venture. Offerors submitting as a joint venture must submit a copy of their joint venture agreement, and this would include all small business joint ventures. If submitting as part of a SBA Mentor-Protégé arrangement, the offeror must include proof of approval of the Mentor-Protégé agreement.
- In addition, for a “proposal from a mentor-protege arrangement, no more than three primary relevant experience projects may be provided by the mentor.”
- “Past performance examples may be from the joint venture or an individual member of the joint venture.”
- “Offerors submitting as a joint venture must provide evidence of any claimed system or certification in the name of the joint venture itself or in the name of a member of the joint venture. Any claimed clearance must be in the name of the joint venture itself or in the name of every member of the joint venture. Scoring will only be awarded for the clearance levels that are in the name of the joint venture itself or have been met/exceeded by all members.”
There are a number of small business subcontractor requirements as well. “The Offeror and all proposed subcontractors must represent as small businesses for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 541512 within SAM.GOV.” Is this saying that a company cannot use large business subcontractors? Experience and “Past performance examples may be from the Offeror or any proposed subcontractor.”
If using subcontractors, an offeror must submit a Subcontractor Letter of Commitment “to support Government validation of any subcontractor experience or past performance an offering prime identifies in response to this solicitation.” Requirements for these letters statements of commitment and other information about the subcontractor. Similarly, an offeror must provide a commitment letters if it wants to “utilize resources from a Parent Company, Affiliate, Division, and/or Subsidiary.”
Experience and Past Performance
Polaris has some specific instructions for experience and past performance. Here are a few highlights, but be sure to read up on the particulars:
- “Offeror must submit a MINIMUM OF THREE (3) and may submit a MAXIMUM OF FIVE (5) distinct Primary Relevant Experience Projects.”
- The projects must relate to certain NAICS codes and “may not be claimed more than once in the same pool.”
- Offerors must provide verification of projects by submitting backup documentation such as FPDS-NG Reports or other forms for non-federal projects or subcontractor experience.
- “A past performance assessment must be submitted for each relevant experience project submitted” based on CPARS or a Past Performance Rating Form.
GSA encourages feedback, so please let them know that questions and concerns you have with the draft Polaris solicitation. GSA requests feedback by 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 15, 2021, so don’t wait too long. GSA has included a specific template for providing feedback, asking offerors to comment on the following issues:
1) anything that seems unclear or requires editing,
2) recommended changes and supportive rationale, and
3) support for existing solicitation elements.
Polaris is a big opportunity for small businesses. Take care to review the draft solicitation now and submit feedback if you would like clarity on any of these issues.
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