Eligible small and medium business government contractors can get on the Chief Information Officer Solutions and Partners (CIO-SP4) contract vehicle. CIO-SP4 is a $40B unrestricted indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) and winning it can transform a small business into a financial and performance powerhouse. Below is all that a Small Business Owner needs to know about the CIO-SP4 contract vehicle and how to win it.
What is NITAAC’s CIO-SP4?
National Institutes of Health’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) is planning to release the final solicitation for CIO-SP4. Previously, NITAAC has released three such contract vehicles and CIO-SP4 is the fourth in line and expected to be released in December 2020. In addition to the general Information Technology (IT) requirements, CIO-SP4 emphasizes IT needs for health-related and biomedical efforts of the government Under the new administration, it is expected that there will be far more opportunities for work in this area.
As per the CIO-SP4 Draft solicitation, released on March 27, 2020, the competition is relatively relaxed for small businesses. NITAAC may award 75-125 offerors in the general category and reserves 200-300 for Small Businesses, which could prove to be a boon to them. Also, regardless of the socio-economic categories, Small Businesses will not compete against other Small Businesses in the different socio-economic classes.
Compared to its predecessor, CIO-SP3, the government has doubled the budget for CIO-SP4 with the ceiling amount of $40B. The performance period will be for 15-years that will include a five-year base period and a five-year option period. At the same time, task orders may extend for another five years after the 10-year ordering period.
What are the CIO-SP4 Requirements?
Small Businesses interested in bidding for CIO-SP4 must understand that “it is the process of ELIMINATION FIRST and then the process of SELECTION.” So, ensuring COMPLIANCE with the requirements is the key to WINNING this contract.
There are many mandatory requirements for Small Businesses to be eligible for CIO-SP4. This includes the capability to perform IT tasks for health-related and biomedical efforts, an adequate accounting system, an updated profile on System for Award Management (SAM), and the ability to conduct a self-assessment using a self-scoring sheet. Small Business Owners must fulfill requirements and prepare for CIO-SP4, as briefly described below:
- CIO-SP4 scope includes 10 Task Areas.
- It is MANDATORY for a Small Business to demonstrate their capability in Task Area 1 i.e., IT Services for Biomedical Research, Health Sciences, and Healthcare.
- The Other Task Areas include Chief Information Officer (CIO) Support; Imaging Outsourcing; IT Operations and Maintenance; Integration Services; Critical Infrastructure Protection and Information Assurance; Digital Government; Enterprise Resource Planning; and Software Development.
The focus is on new or emerging technologies, and the Small Business having expertise in healthcare and Information Technology will have an advantage over others.
- Small Businesses capable of performing a minimum of five Task Areas are eligible for CIO-SP4 based on their socioeconomic category.
- Small Businesses can choose to bid for the Task Areas wherein they have the capability and experience based on their socioeconomic status.
- At a minimum, SDVOSB, HUBZone, and WOSB certified businesses can bid for 5 Task Areas, Small Business category can bid for 8 Task Areas and, Other than Small Business (OTSB) must bid for all 10 Task Areas.
- Small Businesses only need to have SECRET CLEARANCE to receive the full amount of points in the CIO-SP4 Self-Scoring sheet.
- Other than Small Businesses must have TOP SECRET clearance to receive the full amount of points
- Once on the CIO-SP4 contract vehicle, for a small business to bid and perform on a specific task order, the task order level security clearance of the personnel will be needed.
- Small Businesses must have past performance as a Prime or Sub-Contractor in the Task Areas on which the business is bidding.
- The minimum dollar threshold for corporate experience is $5 million. Small Businesses need to identify a maximum of 3 references for past performance assessments, which are to be completed online.
- The Past Performance references can be from either the government sector or from the commercial client. However, private sector examples are limited to only one (1).
- The overall proposal score will not be negatively impacted for the Small Businesses that do not have past performances.
Key Personnel Requirements:
- Two Key Personnel are required, including the Contract Program Manager (PM) and Contract Manager. It is necessary to note that Key personnel’s email address domain name shall align with the legal business name. The designated Key Personnel will be the only/official point of contact to the NITAAC Program.
The following non-mandatory qualifications will fetch more points for Small Businesses
- Relevant Corporate Experience, Leading Edge Technology Relevant Experience, Federal Experience / Multiple Award Contract Experience, Locations (Past projects where the performance took place outside of a 200-mile radius of Washington, DC).
- Direct involvement or support with Executive Order 13779, Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS), Acceptable Estimating System, Approved Purchasing System, ISO 20000 Certification, ISO/IEC 27000, and Facility Clearances.
Here’s how a Small Business can prepare beforehand to outdo the anticipated competition and increase the chances of winning it:
- Conduct the “Readiness Checklist” to assess preparedness: It gives an exhaustive list of pre-award, post-award, and task-order level considerations to bear in mind and measure CIO-SP4-preparedness with the NAICS Code: 541512, Size Standard: $27.5M, Central Contractor Registration (CCR) through SAM, Complete Representations, Verified Cost Accounting System, Compliance with Section 518 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, HHS-Controlled Facilities and Information Systems Security. Try to meet as many criteria on the self-scoring sheet as possible to score more points. Download the NITAAC Self Scoring Sheet.
- Have suitable candidates for Key Personnel: Review the candidate experience and find the one with the integrated experience in IT and Healthcare domains. You still have time to look for as many candidates and select the best fit.
- Select your best and most relevant experience: Start evaluating your past performances by mapping the work performed with Draft CIO-SP4 solicitation requirements to determine if they will suffice. If you don’t have relevant past performances, this is the time to find the teaming partners.
- Get your Accounting System audited: Contact either DCMA, DCAA, or a third-party to get your accounting system verified. Your accounting system must have an independent review and be rated as adequate for determining costs per FAR 16.301-3(a)(1). Remember, it is time-consuming and it better start now.
How can iQuasar help you in Winning the CIO-SP4?
Preparing now for the final CIO-SP4 before the RFP is released will increase the chances of winning it. Creating the checklist of items will help you identify take advantage of the open window for winning CIO-SP4 and be able to bid for contracts worth $40B.
iQuasar has a team of professional proposal development experts who create high quality and compliant proposals that have helped many of our clients win contracts in the federal domain. We provide end-to-end Proposal Development Services to US Small Businesses, helping them develop winning proposals. We have expertise in supporting Small Businesses in bidding for contract vehicles, including GSA Schedule IT 70, OASIS, GSA FSS, Alliant Small Business, 8 (a) STARS, HcaTS, Navy SEAPORT-E, CATS+, MOBIS, RMAS, GWACs, and NIH CIO-SP3.
Our team is well acquainted with the CIO-SP4 requirements and is proactively helping Small Business in preparing for the CIO-SP4 contract vehicle. Our team of experts will manage the entire CIO-SP4 process by analyzing your company eligibility, making a checklist of items, and preparing the compliant proposal response helping you win it.