Ever since the release of the initial draft solicitation of NIH’s $40B CIO-SP4 contract vehicle, NITAAC has provided punctuated updates about the development and release of the final solicitation. On May 3, 2021, NITAAC released its latest update announcing May 7, 2021, as the expected release date of the final solicitation. We have summarized key information and CIO-SP4 updates below.
CIO-SP4: Latest Updates
The broad requirements of the RFP have remained the same, but many minor updates have been made throughout the past few months. There has been a significant reduction in the page limit of the technical proposal. Additionally, there will be a three-tiered review process consisting of a Self-scoring sheet, Go/No Go mandatory Criteria, and Full Technical and Business Review. At each review, the number of potential contract holders will shrink as offerors are evaluated and reviewed.
Minimum Proposed Task Areas per Set-Aside Group
Based on the update, each set-aside group has a minimum number of Task Areas that offerors in that category need to propose on, as described below.
Each company, based on their business size, will be competing against the companies that are similar in terms of size and each socioeconomic category company will be competing against companies that fall within the same category. The progress/transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 will be different for each business size.
Technical Proposal Specifics
According to the official update on CIO-SP4. Technical proposal specifics focus on the following:
- Task Area 1: Three pages about Task Area 1 (Health IT)
- Management Plan: Focuses on how the offeror proposes to manage a contract of this size and scope
- Business Arrangements: Determines the contractor teaming arrangement or a sub in a mentor-protégé relationship.
- Team Make-Up: Focuses on Team Composition and the lead.
Corporate Experience and Task Areas
The offeror must provide corporate experience examples for each Task Area that they intend to go for, with up to 3 corporate experience examples per Task Area. The maximum number of examples allowed is 30 and the same examples can be used more than once and for other experience areas of the self-scoring sheet.
Self-Scoring Sheet Points
As per the new CIO-SP4 updates, the Other Than Small Businesses (OTSBs) and small businesses can receive a maximum of 10,000 points and the point of disparity between OTSB and small businesses includes a range of dollar values of examples for corporate experience, leading-edge technology, and federal multiple-award contracts, which is $500K to $7M+ for small businesses and $1M to $31M+ for OTSB. The mandatory certification requirement for OTSBs in comparison to small businesses is that OTSB must have ISO 9001/CMMI Level 2.
Importance of Health IT Capabilities
The technical proposal will have considerably more importance while the price is important. More notably, offerors with Health IT Capabilities have a higher chance of being treated favorably. Health IT capabilities take precedence over business. NIH may award the contract to an offeror who has a better technical score, even if their pricing is slightly higher.
In March 2021, according to HHS OSDBU, the CIO-SP4 acquisition strategy and package were under review with the SBA, and a solicitation release was expected soon. Currently, the much-awaited CIO SP4 which was being extended is slated to get released on or about May 07, 2021, according to an update posted on the NITAAC CIO-SP4 Website. The updated three-tiered Source Selection review process includes:
- Phase 1: Evaluation of Self Scoring Sheet (Reference Draft V4), other supporting documentation such as SF 30s, other face pages, etc.
- Phase 2 – Go/No Go mandatory criteria
- Phase 3 – Technical and Business Evaluation which primarily includes:
- Health IT Factor – Maximum of 3 pages
- Management Approach – Maximum of 11 Pages
- Past Performance – Maximum of 3 Pages
- Price – 15 Pages
With each phase review, the pool of potential awardees will shrink as the offerors will get evaluated as per the requirements.
What Does This Mean For You?
Contractors interested in bidding for CIO-SP4 have been tracking the GWAC developments from the very beginning, and with the release of this update what you need to do next is to map your preparedness for the final solicitation based on the modifications that have been announced in the recent update.
With a tentative RFP release date, Government Technical Review is expected to occur in early Summer 2021, and the Formal Selection Process is anticipated in the Winter 2021 to early 2022. It still allows time for the offerors to get geared up in terms of certifications. For example, if an OTSB does not possess CMMI Certification Level 2, they will be eliminated from the evaluations; Offerors can get their Accounting systems verified by DCMA, DCAA, or a third party, if not already done. Moreover, Gap Analysis on past experiences and forming a potential teaming partnership(s) would be a precursor to success. Offerors need to note that NITAAC is the sole point of contact for the procurement of CIO-SP4, and need to check the website periodically for any notices.
CIO-SP4- Updated Timeline
With the final solicitation all set for release in a few days as per NITAAC’s recent update on CIO-SP4, preparing now before the final RFP is released will increase your chances of winning it. Here is the updated timeline for CIO-SP4 Solicitation:
May 8, 2021- Update on CIO-SP4
NITAAC Acting Director Brian Goodger just gave an update on CIO-SP4, here is his statement:
“We know the industry is eagerly awaiting the release of the CIO-SP4 Request for Proposal (RFP). We are, too. We understand the important role our GWACs play for not only the federal government but the industry as well. I want to update everyone on where we stand in the process and provide some clarity around the delays we have experienced in the RFP’s release.
The RFP has been delayed due to events that are, quite simply, out of our control. Because the National Institutes of Health has been intimately involved in the fight against COVID-19, we experienced a delay in obtaining business case approval. That delay caused a subsequent delay in getting approval from the SBA PCR. The Office of Management and Budget has received a draft copy of the business case and has provided a verbal approval to post the RFP once all signatures have been obtained. The last signature we need to obtain is that of the SPE at HHS, which we expect next week.
Finally, as we await the release of CIO-SP4, I wanted to remind our federal partners that CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business are very much viable options for meeting all of your procurement needs, not only now, but for five years after your task orders are placed.”
May 20, 2021- Update on CIO-SP4
NITAAC has updated the anticipated release date for CIO-SP4. Here is the updated timeline:
Latest Development on CIOSP4
NITAAC released a modification on June 23rd, issuing a letter addressed to prospective offerors regarding a future amendment. The letter indicates that an amendment is expected to be released soon. The amendment will address issues with the proposal submission instructions, correct an error with the formulas in attachment J.5 Self Scoring Sheet of the solicitation, and clarify some concerns surrounding Contractor Team Arrangements (NITAACs does not intend to remove the ability of offerors to utilize first-tier subcontractors that are part of a CTA as defined in FAR 9.601).
Taking note of the difficulties faced by the industry in viewing and accessing the Interested Vendor List on www.sam.gov, the letter also announced that the Government is working on creating an alternative for offerors to submit the information required to initiate their proposal submission process via the NIH Secure Email and File Transfer Service. The letter also indicated that there will not be another Q&A period for the solicitation.
Bidding for CIO-SP4 can be an intimidating process for small businesses, we are here to help. iQuasar is well acquainted with the CIO-SP4 requirements and is proactively helping Small Businesses in preparing for the CIO-SP4 contract vehicle. Our professional proposal development team creates 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.
iQuasar is closely following the latest developments on CIO-SP4. For further updates, stay tuned in to our blog. 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. Feel free to reach out to us.