CIO-CS: NIH’s Next Big GWAC – All You Need to Know

Apr 17, 2024

Download Understanding Document for Chief Information Officer Commodities Store

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently released a Sources Sought Notice and conducted a virtual industry day for the upcoming iteration of Chief Information Officer – Commodities Store “The Store” (CIO-CS), with an expected dollar value of $25 Billion.

CIO-CS is the next iteration of the Chief Information Officer Commodity Solutions. The current iteration is a five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with a five-year optional period with a maximum dollar value of $20 Billion. The current CIO-CS contract was awarded in 2015 and will expire in 2025. 40.75% of the total dollar value for this vehicle was spent through the Small Business set-aside. CIO-CS is the successor contract to NIH’s current Electronic Commodities Store (ECS) III, which expired in November 2014.

In this blog, we explain the key features, functional categories, and other relevant information that you need to know about this contract vehicle.

What is NIH’s CIO-CS?

The CIO-CS GWAC is the current NITAAC GWAC for IT commodities. Through the capacity to quickly and effectively buy commercially available commodities and commodity-enabling technologies, the planned follow-on contract will continue to serve NIH’s mission-critical initiatives as well as other IT-related needs across the federal government. These IT commodities, together with the related services that enable them, will comprise IT equipment that aligns with the needs of scientific, administrative, operational, managerial, health, and biomedical research, as well as information management. Participation in the resulting GWAC is anticipated to be open to all qualifying contractors. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Value Added Resellers (VARs) who meet the requirements in any one or more of the Product Groups listed in the draft Product Categories and Groups listed below are encouraged to submit a proposal in response to the final solicitation.

Key Features of CIO-CS

GWACs like CIO-CS are designed to deliver easy access to a broad range of IT goods and services to federal agencies. Some key highlights of CIO-CS include:

  • Scope: The scope of CIO-CS encompasses a wide range of IT goods and services, such as related services, software, hardware, and software integration.
  • Multiple Award Contract: The current iteration is an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with multiple award holders, which means that several vendors have already been pre-qualified to offer IT services and products under this type of contract.
  • Flexible Contract Types: CIO-CS offers flexibility in procurement by supporting a range of contract types, such as labor-hour, time-and-materials, fixed-price, and hybrid contracts.
  • Easy Ordering: Using a streamlined buying process, federal agencies can quickly order IT services and products using the CIO-CS contract vehicle, cutting down on procurement lead times.
  • Compliant with Federal Regulations: CIO-CS guarantees that all acquisitions made through the contract vehicle comply with relevant laws and regulations by adhering to federal procurement requirements.
  • Small Business Participation: As per the previous CIO-CS (Contract # HHSN316201500063W), it contains clauses that encourage small businesses to take part by allowing them to bid on and be awarded contracts alongside more prominent companies.
  • Value-added Services: To help federal agencies get the most out of the CIO-CS contract vehicle and navigate the procurement process, NITAAC offers extra support services.
  • NAICS: The NAICS associated with this GWAC are 334111 – Electronic Computer Manufacturing and 541519 – Information Technology Value Added Resellers

What are the Functional Categories of CIO-CS ?

As per the latest notice, The IT products and services included in each contract category must comply with Federal Government regulations, including, but not limited to:

  • Trade Agreements Act (TAA)
  • Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
  • EnergyStar
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance
  • Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FEDRAMP) compliance
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-220)

Past Incumbent Contractors

Around 70 incumbent contractors were awarded CIO-CS. Below is the list of all the incumbent contractors, along with their contract numbers:

Spending Analysis

For the current CIO-CS contract expiring in 2025, a major chunk of business and awards have been made to Small Businesses giving a clear indication about the benefits for small businesses. Below is the spending breakdown (in $K) to date:

What are the Benefits of CIO-CS for Contractors?

CIO-CS offers several benefits for small businesses:

  • Set-Aside Opportunities: CIO-CS may provide small businesses with set-aside possibilities, guaranteeing that a percentage of contract wins will be set aside solely for the involvement of small businesses. Small businesses benefit from increased competition in the federal procurement sector as a result.
  • Reduced Competition: Small businesses may occasionally see lower competition when using the CIO-CS contract vehicle compared to open-market procurements. Small enterprises may have a better chance of obtaining contract awards as a result of the decreased competition.
  • Streamlined Procurement Process: CIO-CS provides a simplified procurement procedure that facilitates small firms’ involvement in government contracting. Small businesses can handle the intricacies of government procurement more effectively by using streamlined methods.
  • Long-Term Contracting Relationships: Small businesses can build enduring connections with federal agencies by securing contracts through CIO-CS. These continuing connections can pave the way for future expansion and success as well as lead to prospects for repeat business.

Latest Updates on CIO-CS

Based on the latest updates, it is expected that RFP is expected to be released in early summer 2024 and is anticipated to be due in late summer 2024. The Technical Evaluation Period is anticipated to be from Fall through Winter 2024. The award announcement is anticipated to be made in February 2025, with work commencing in April 2025.

How to Prepare for CIO-CS

Interested offerors have sufficient time to prepare for the main solicitation and increase their chances of winning. Interested bidders should:

  • Understand the Functional Categories of the latest CIO-CS and see wherein they can provide their services to the government.
  • Check your compliance with various Federal Government regulations for products and services in each category that include but are not limited to Trade Agreements Act (TAA), Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), EnergyStar, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance, Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FEDRAMP) compliance and so on.
  • Go through previous iterations of this contract vehicle to get an understanding of the previous requirements.
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses and collaborate with other partners to form a strong team that has a higher potential for success.
  • Participate in virtual events, ask questions, connect with agency POCs, and participate in the process before the main solicitation is released.

Contract vehicles like CIO-CS are complex and require a thorough understanding of the contract vehicle mechanisms and regulations. Our team at iQuasar specializes in supporting small businesses in bidding for complex contract vehicles such as CIO-CS, Polaris GWAC, OASIS + (GSA BIC MAC), PACTS III, CIO-SP4, 8(a) STARS III, and other GWACs.

Our team of experts will supervise your entire bid process by helping you evaluate your eligibility, increase your readiness levels, prepare a custom-made proposal development strategy for your firm’s unique requirements, and create a high-quality and compliant response to help you win. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out more.

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