The Department of State recently released an update to Evolve IDIQ Draft RFP on November 9th, 2022. This marks the latest development in the Department of State’s much-awaited “Evolve” – a multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) acquisition program for IT services that aims at improving the Department’s security standing and furthering innovation and IT modernization within the organization. The $8-$10 Billion IDIQ is all set to help the Department of State do away with duplication, benefit from economies of scale, and centralize the IT services management under a single vehicle.
Evolve will have a Period of Performance of five to seven years. Upon award, Evolve contracts will be managed by the IRM IT Acquisitions office (IRM/BMP/ITA/CM) centrally. Industry input shaped the acquisition strategy for Evolve, and the Department of State is expecting to issue up to 36 IDIQ awards.
In this blog, we have explained all you need to know about this upcoming IDIQ.
The Need for Evolve
Advancements in technology have changed how the Government connects and communicates information. In light of these rapid changes, the Government requires powerful, resilient new technologies to advocate policy positions, promote awareness and enhance transparency on behalf of the American people. Evolve builds on the achievements of similar preceding contracts. As per the Industry Day Presentation delivered by the State Department, Evolve will immediately support expiring Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) contracts such as Vanguard 2.2.1, ITESS, etc.
The idea behind Evolve is to enable the State Department to buy technology services from companies with proven track records to implement the State Department’s new modernization agenda. The Department of State intends to leverage Evolve to become more organized and equipped to meet the tests of the 21st century. Some key dimensions of Evolve include:
- Building the State Department’s capacity and expertise in areas that will be critical to national security in the years ahead, particularly for cyber security and emerging technologies
- Modernizing the Department’s technology, communications, and analytical capabilities
- Providing better, accessible tools and infrastructure for American diplomats and staff to do their jobs flexibly, efficiently, and securely from Washington and from the field, and
- Making use of innovation, technology, and data to solve challenges to foreign policy
The key objective of Evolve is to foster innovative, effective, and interconnected diplomacy by constantly improving, evolving, and refreshing tools and services in a manner that supports national interests and provides the best value to the American people. Evolve will allow department technology to work better for democracy and reduce risks to the mission and personnel. The contract vehicle aims to bring standardization and reduce administrative lead time, burden and costs.
What are the Functional Categories for Requirements?
Evolve will consist of five (5) competition functional categories (FCs), formerly known as “pools.” To compete for an award within a given functional category, an offeror must have the capability to meet each of the requirements listed in the Descriptions. Only one proposal per functional category will be allowed. These lists represent the services that will be delivered.
Functional Category 1: IT Management Services
This functional category includes IT Portfolio Management, Architecture, and Cybersecurity & Compliance categories of requirements; these include the following:
- PMO Support: Provide support and input for programmatic activities related to the contract tasks.
- Strategic Communications and Engagement: Manage the program’s engagement activities and strategic communications, including the development of supporting artifacts.
- Strategic Planning: Create long-term visions and plans for directing IRM and DOS IT systems.
- Performance Management: Monitor and report on the contractor’s performance to meet the agreed-upon measures and targets.
- Program Management: Manage the IDIQ contract and associated task orders.
- Transition Management: Facilitate contractor transitions to ensure continuous support and to maintain system reliability, availability, and performance standards related to customer satisfaction
- Finance and Budget: Provide budgeting, planning, spend management, chargeback, tracking, reporting, and auditing of IT expenditures, costing of IT services and products. This can also include chargeback of IT expenditures and the costing of IT products and services.
- Governance, Risk, Audit, and Compliance: Provide a structured approach for aligning IT with business goals and objectives while managing risk and meeting compliance requirements. Provide policies, strategies, and processes for better management of overall governance, enterprise risk management, and regulatory compliance with regard to IT.
- Process Improvement Consulting: Provide consulting services related to process improvement to enhance efficiency, strengthen system-driven management controls, upgrade security, modernize systems, enhance existing processes or develop them anew (where they don’t exist), and reduce cost.
- Zero Trust Architecture: Develop technological roadmaps, strategies, and plans to secure the global network and its resources. This includes strategies for micro-segmentations, least privilege access, usage controls for data, continuous monitoring, and auditing.
- Executive Support Program: Provide executive coordination and processing, planning, and communication in a streamlined manner.
- Cyber Security & Incident Response: Provide policies, procedures, and technologies to recognize emerging and existing threats. Also, to determine the risk associated with each type of incident to ensure the organization has the appropriate defenses in place.
- Enterprise Architecture: Develop strategies for business, information, application, and technical architecture and roadmaps to facilitate standardization, integration, modernization, security, and efficiency among business technology solutions.
There will be Four (4) Full and Open IDIQ contracts and Four(4) Small Business Set aside IDIQ contracts for this functional category.
Functional Category 2: Cloud and Data Center Services
This functional category includes internal and external cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and Data Center and their supported services; these include:
- Data Access and Integration Program Management: Provide a central point of contact to manage offline relationships with external agencies that seek to integrate with the program’s technical products and data or that the program requires integration with.
- Virtual Compute and Containers: Provide various compute configurations delivered through virtualizing physical compute resources. This may include on-demand provisioning and de-provisioning based on user interaction or the application’s performance..
- Technology Lifecycle Management: Ensure that required technologies and their licenses, including new and emerging technologies, can be identified, assessed, acquired, and maintained.
- Cloud Services: Provide cloud solutions such as infrastructure, platform, or software hosted by secure third-party providers and made available to users on demand.
There will be Two (2) Full and Open IDIQ contracts and Four(4) Small Business Set aside IDIQ contracts for this functional category.
Functional Category 3: Application Development
This functional category includes software application development, testing, release, support, and operations. These include:
- System Management and Configuration Changes: Manage the technical system, its subcomponents, and other supporting technologies to ensure overall system flexibility, reliability, and availability with minimal disruptions to service.
- Security and Contingency Planning, Preparation, and Operations: Develop, maintain, and test security and contingency plans for compliance with relevant policies, directives, and best practices for securing applications.
- User Experience Design: Manage and conduct all activities required to identify user and customer requirements and design solutions using a human-centered design approach.
- Development: Manage the prioritization of requirements across the system and continuously manage and perform the necessary development activities using an integrated and agile approach that maximizes productivity measures.
- Testing: Develop, conduct, integrate, and manage the required testing to facilitate production-ready development.
- Release Management: Manage the technical release of features throughout the development lifecycle.
- Database, Mainframe, Middleware: Operate and maintain mainframe and distributed databases and middleware systems, and include DBMS software and tools.
There will be Four (4) Full and Open IDIQ contracts and Four(4) Small Business Set aside IDIQ contracts for this functional category.
Functional Category 4: Network and Telecommunication Services
This functional category includes voice and data network, and supporting services like load balancing, domain services, VPN, Intranet, Radio services, and RIMC network support. These include:
- Systems Design and Management: Manage all activities needed to support the agile design, development, testing, and release of new features and capabilities. It includes the patching and security of network and SOE systems.
- Domain Services: Provide lookup capabilities to change domain names into the associated IP address to enable communication between hosts. It includes Active Directory services and the associated tools required to administer domains.
- Data and Voice Networks: Design, operate, maintain, and modernize network connections that allow direct data and voice communications across the organization, including its office buildings, data centers, and remote locations, as well as partners and service providers (including public cloud service providers). It includes the data network circuits and associated access facilities and services. It also includes dedicated and virtual data networks and internet access.
- Radio Network Installation & Maintenance: Provide research, development, procurement, design, logistics, installation, and maintenance expertise with HF, UHF, VHF, and satellite radio systems, that include land/mobile radios, handhelds, base stations, vehicle-based, remote, repeaters, and associated encryption capabilities for all. Voice and data network connectivity expenses include circuit and usage expenditures, lease expenditures, and maintenance and support expenditures.
- Telecommunications: Engineer, install, configure, deliver operational support, and provide turnkey integrated solutions supporting multi-vendor OEM telecommunications platforms.
- Tactical Operations and Field Support: Strategically positioned regional command operations (RIMCs) provide the initial point of contact to support all overseas communication platforms included in the IRM umbrella of control. The availability to quickly utilize additional subject matter experts (personnel) and surge capacity (teams and equipment) for IRM field support is necessary for mission success.
- Structured Cabling: Voice and data structured cabling installation, termination, and testing services, including CAT-X, fiber, coaxial, direct burial, aerial, and other associated technologies to support voice and data networks, radio, and security systems.
- Operations Center: Centralized IT Operations Center resources, including monitoring and intervention, e.g., NOC (network operations center), GOC (global operations center).
- LAN/WAN Services: Operate, maintain, and manage physical and wireless local area networks connecting equipment within the core data centers and end users in office working areas to the organization’s broader networks.
Six (6) Full and Open IDIQ contracts will be for this functional category.
Functional Category 5: End User and Customer Support Services
Functional Category 5 includes support for end users and mobile computing devices. Services in this functional category include:
- Help/Support Desk: Provide 24×7 Tier 0, 1, and 2 customer and technical support using multiple support channels such as chatbots, voice, in-app, etc., while maximizing the use of automation in this regard.
- Change Management & User Communications: Provide and facilitate multi-channel communications with users regarding upcoming events, available resources, and changes to the user interface and related business processes, process improvement recommendations, and best practices.
- Training: Develop, maintain, and deliver comprehensive instructional systems training of DOS systems and applications through multiple modes.
- Technical Security Services: Apply countermeasures to classified Information Communications equipment (ICT) deployed domestically and at various US embassies globally. This includes support for TEMPEST requirements.
- Mobile and Remote Access: Provide mobile and remote access for services such as GO Virtual, GO Browser, mobile device management and support, and other mobile services.
There will be Six (6) Full and Open IDIQ contracts for this functional category.
Some Noteworthy Constraints Regarding Evolve FCs
On their official website, the Department of State has listed some constraints to offerors bidding for various Evolve FCs. Some of these include:
- IT Management Category vendors may not deliver services in any other category.
- IT Management vendors may also not have partnerships or subcontracts with vendors providing services in any of the other functional categories.
- For Functional Categories 2 to 5, a vendor can only provide services as a prime contractor in a maximum of two (2) functional categories.
- Joint Ventures are welcome, but the same constraints apply.
- A small business will be allowed to bid as part of a Joint Venture and bid separately in different functional categories, but this will be subject to the restriction for IT Management Services contractors.
- A Prime contractor will only be allowed to be a subcontractor within a separate functional category.
- A subcontractor will be allowed to team with multiple Prime contractors;
How will Evolve benefit Small Businesses?
- In collaboration with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the Department has taken several steps to maximize small and disadvantaged business opportunities within the Evolve acquisition.
- Evolve will not negatively impact work currently performed by small businesses. The Department anticipates that small businesses will receive a greater amount and percentage share of the overall contract value total under Evolve than they currently receive.
- Evolve encourages all offerors to propose subcontracting plans that align with Department’s small business utilization goals and have stringent pass/fail small business commitment requirements for all large business offerors.
- Existing IT services work performed via contracts in the 8(a) program will remain in the 8(a) program outside of Evolve.
What is the current status of Evolve?
- On November 9th, 2022, the Department of State released an update to Draft RFP. The notice posted on SAM.gov lists a number of notable updates and reminders for the Draft RFP:
- All functional categories will still be solicited concurrently.
- Proposals will be collected and managed through the Symphony Procurement application. Instructions on how to register in the symphony and submit proposals will be provided in the RFP.
- There is not an OCI restriction on bidding or awards between functional categories at the IDIQ level; however, there is a high likelihood of OCI between FC1 (IT Management) and other functional category Task Orders.
- The RFP continues to include 2 Phases with an advisory down-select at Phase 1.
- Phase 1 will now include a Self-Scoring Sheet and a Technical Challenge.
- Corporate certifications (e.g., CMMI Level 3, ISO, etc.) are no longer a minimum requirement; Offerors with these certifications (and other qualifiers) will receive higher ratings in their self-scoring sheets in Phase 1.
- Oral presentations are no longer required.
- Offerors are now allowed to submit up to 3 Past Experience REP Forms per functional category (minimum is 1).
- Sample Task Order proposal submissions for each functional category will be required and evaluated during Phase 2.
- The price evaluation factor will include an evaluation of IDIQ pricing and Sample Task Order Pricing.
- The small business factor is no longer pass/fail; it is now an adjectivally rated evaluation factor.
- On September 7th, 2022, the Department released a complete set of Questions and Answers (Q&A) to the Evolve IDIQ on sam.gov.
- On Jul 26, 2022, and August 10, 2022, the Evolve team conducted listening sessions to engage with Industry on the program prior to the release of the final RFP and to engage specifically with the small business community. The slides for both events are available on the U.S. Department of State Industry Liaison page on LinkedIn, and the recordings are available on Vimeo.
- On July 8th, 2022, the Department of State issued a Request for Information (RFI). The purpose of this RFI was, first and foremost, to provide a revised draft Evolve Request for Proposals (RFP) for industry review. This revised draft has incorporated the feedback received during the initial RFI/draft RFP release in 2021. Secondly, the draft aimed at soliciting recommendations and additional industry questions for RFP refinement. Lastly, the Department also announced a live Q&A listening session. All current information and documentation on the program are available on SAM.gov. You can check out the RFI announcement and associated documents for complete Evolve IDIQ information on SAM.gov.
Furthermore, the Department is taking inquiries regarding Evolve directly at email@example.com. If you have any questions or comments regarding this much-awaited contract vehicle, feel free to send them to this email address.
Evolve is a golden opportunity to work with the State Department, establish yourself in the federal market, and advance your company. Going after contract vehicles can be a complicated process for small businesses, our team here at iQuasar simplifies the process for our clients. We support Small Businesses in bidding for complex contract vehicles such as Polaris, OASIS + (GSA BIC MAC), CATS+, CIO-SP4, Alliant SB, 8(a) STARS, HCaTS, Navy SEAPORT-E, MOBIS, RMAS, and other GWACs. Our teams here at iQuasar are constantly tracking updates related to contract vehicles like Evolve. Our team of experts will supervise the entire process by helping you evaluate your eligibility, increase your readiness levels, prepare a proposal development strategy custom-made to your firm’s unique requirements, and create a high-quality and compliant proposal response to help you win.
To know more about how we can help you