Polaris GWAC – Latest Updates

May 8, 2023

The wait for General Services Administration (GSA)’s Polaris GWAC Final RFP is not over yet, but there have been some important recent developments to the draft RFP that the offerors need to know about. On the 30th of June 2022, the submission portals for the Polaris GWAC solicitations – the Small Business (SB) and the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) were opened. GSA has also released the solicitations for SDVOSB and HUBZone pools, and the current due date is November 18. We are closely following the developments on GSA’s Polaris GWAC.

Polaris GWAC – What is it

Polaris is GSA’s Small Business GWAC through which the Federal Government aims to procure customized IT solutions from highly qualified Small Businesses in various socioeconomic categories. As a replacement for Alliant 2 SB, Polaris is expected to focus on modern technology requirements, including cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and IT supply chain risk management requirements. It is expected to leverage AI tools, blockchain technology, and XaaS with an anticipated ceiling value of $15-$20B.

In this blog, we have explained some of the recent changes that have been made to its draft.

May 1, 2023

In yet another spectacular turn of events for GSA’s Polaris, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has ruled that GSA must hit the brakes on Polaris and immediately stop proposal evaluation for the lucrative $15 billion government-wide IT services and solutions contract. The decision was made following a protest filed by two government contractors.

On May 1, 2023, GSA released an announcement on SAM.GOV stating: “GSA has received a protest decision from the Court of Federal Claims. GSA is currently reviewing the decision and working to determine a path forward. This decision prohibits further proposal evaluation and contract awards under the current versions of the Polaris solicitations.”

As a result of the ruling, until amendments are made to the solicitation, GSA cannot make any awards. Moreover, the court has required GSA to allow concerned companies to resubmit their proposals. The Court has ordered GSA to make the solicitation’s methodology for scoring a joint venture’s past experience less restrictive. But that’s not all—pricing will now need to be included in the award evaluation process at the master contract level.

GSA announced Polaris in July 2020 and finally released the RFP in September 2022. It has already been almost three years since the initial process started. With the self-scoring methodology so widely used in government contracting, it’ll be interesting to see what impacts this ruling might have. Who knows? This could affect more than just GSA Polaris and could also impact the upcoming OASIS+ final RFP release. Only time will tell! Stay tuned for more updates.

November 8, 2022

GSA has released Question and Response Documents #3 for the HUBZone and SDVOSB Pools on SAM.gov. The proposal due date remains unchanged.

October 20, 2022

GSA released updates for Polaris HUBZone and SDVOSB Pool.
For HUBZone pool following documents were released:

For SDVOSB pool following documents were released:

The proposal due date has been extended from 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on November 4, 2022, to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on November 18, 2022, for both the pools.

October 11, 2022

GSA released the recording for the PSP industry training webinar conducted on September 30, 2022. Here is the link.

October 12, 2022

GSA released Amendment 0002 of the Polaris HUBZone Pool RFP. With the amendment following documents were released:

GSA also mentioned that the proposal due date has not been extended.

September 30, 2022

GSA released the Amendment 0001 of the Polaris HUBZone and SDVOSB Pool. With the amendment, the following was released:

  • SF30 Amendment 0001 – HUBZone and SDVOSB Pool
  • Polaris HUBZone Pool RFP 47QTCB22R0006 Amend 0001 – Redline Copy and Polaris SDVOSB Pool RFP 47QTCB22R0007 Amend 0001 – Redline Copy

GSA also mentioned that the proposal due dates have not been extended. The offerors and team members experiencing SAM.gov delays, which are impacting their ability to submit their proposal, must notify the Polaris HUBZone CO, in accordance with the amended section L.3.4, no later than Friday, October 7, 2022, via email to Polarishubzone@gsa.gov or Polarissdvosb@gsa.gov respectively

September 20, 2022

On September 20, 2022, GSA released amendment 0007 and Question and Response Document #5 of the Polaris SB Pool and WOSB Pool RFP. The proposal due date has been extended from September 23, 2022, to October 7, 2022. No further extensions of the proposal due date are expected. GSA has released the following documents with this update.

September 15, 2022

GSA has released the solicitations for SDVOSB and HUBZone pools. The current due date for questions is October 5, 2022. Proposals are due no later than 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on November 4, 2022. Like the previous two pools, the proposals must be submitted electronically via the Polaris Submission Portal (PSP).

September 6, 2022

Based on the last update, GSA has released the Amendment 0006 of the Polaris SB and WOSB Pools. As already mentioned in the previous update the due date has been extended to September 23, 2022. GSA has provided the following documents with this update:

September 2, 2022

GSA announced on September 2nd, 2022 that the proposal due date for Polaris GWAC SB and WOSB pools is extended from September 9, 2022 to September 23, 2022. The agency further noted that this will be reflected in Amendment 0006 that will be provided on sam.gov in the coming days.

August 30, 2022

Polaris SDVOSB Pool and HUBZone Pool Presolicitation notices released:

GSA has released presolicitation notices for Polaris GWAC Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Pool and Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Pool. The solicitation number for Polaris SDVOSB Pool is 47QTCB22R0007 and for the HUBZone pool is 47QTCB22R0006. GSA asserted that the System for Award Management (www.SAM.gov) is the only source for solicitations that are anticipated to be posted in September 2022.

Like previous two pools, the upcoming solicitations must be submitted through the Polaris Submission Portal. The registration information and submission instructions will be provided with the release of the RFP

August 19, 2022

GSA has released an amendment (Amendment 0005) for both SB and WOSB pools wherein they have provided the following:

The submission date has not been changed, and it is on September 9, 2022.

August 11, 2022

GSA has released an amendment (Amendment 0004) for both SB and WOSB pools wherein they have provided the following:

  • SF30 Amendment 0004 – SB and WOSB Pools
  • Small Business Pool RFP – Redline Copy and Women-Owned Small Business Pool RFP – Redline Copy

In addition to that the submission date for both Small Business and Women-Owned Small Business Pool has been extended to September 9, 2022.  In case the offerors are experiencing SAM.gov delays impacting their ability to submit their proposal, GSA has asked them to notify Polaris CO no later than Friday, August 19, 2022, via email to Polaris@gsa.gov.

August 8, 2022

GSA has released “Question and Response Document #3” for Polaris SB and WOSB Pools on SAM.gov.

August 3, 2022

GSA has released an amendment (Amendment 0003) for both SB and WOSB pools wherein they have provided the following:

  • SF30 Amendment 0003 – SB and WOSB Pools
  • Small Business Pool RFP – Redline Copy and Women-Owned Small Business Pool RFP – Redline Copy
  • J.P-8 Multiple Award Schedule Contractor Teaming Arrangement (MAS CTA) Experience Template

July 26, 2022

GSA has released the recording of last week’s PSP industry training webinar. A summary of questions and responses from the session regarding the use of the PSP has also been provided. Additionally, the proposal due date for both Polaris SB and WOSB pools has been extended from August 10, 2022, to August 19, 2022. It will be reflected in Amendment 0003, which will be provided on SAM.gov in the coming days.

July 20, 2022

GSA has released Question and Response Document #2 for SB and WOSB pools. Additionally, the agency has notified that an industry training session for the Polaris Submission Portal (PSP) will be provided on Thursday, July 21, 2022, at 1:00 pm ET. The session may be accessed via. this link (Passcode: Polaris). The live session will be limited to the first 3,000 participants and will be recorded and shared on SAM.

July 18, 2022

GSA has announced on its Interact website that it plans to issue the solicitations for the Polaris Historically Under-utilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) pools in September of 2022. These solicitations will be similar, although not identical, to the Small Business (SB) and Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Pools, and the agency has encouraged the industry to review the posted solicitations for familiarity carefully.

June 30, 2022

The RFPs for Polaris Small Business and Women-Owned Small Business Pools are open for bid via Amendment 0002. The proposal due date is extended to August 10, 2022. SDVOSB and HubZONE Pools will open for bid later in the year.

May 13, 2022

On the 13th of May 2022, GSA released a modification to both the Polaris GWAC solicitations – the small business and the women-owned small business. The Agency has released these modifications following a bid protest that was dismissed on April 25, 2022. The latest changes issued are related to Teaming Arrangements – Joint Venture and are still in the draft form. The Agency has asked the potential bidders to review the changes and provide feedback no later than May 23, 2022.

The Polaris RFPs will continue to remain paused until further notice, as well as the opening of the Polaris Submission Portal, also remains on hold. The due date in the SAM.gov announcement has been updated to June 30, 2022; however, the forthcoming amendment is anticipated to be released in June 2022. Offerors are still encouraged to pause proposal activities until the amendment is issued.

April 6, 2022

On the 6th of April 2022, GSA released an update on both the Polaris GWAC solicitations – the Small Business and the Women-Owned Small Business– that had been released on the 25th of March, 2022. According to the update, GSA has received a lot of feedback related to the evaluation of Joint Ventures under this solicitation, due to which GSA is assessing if any changes will be required in the RFPs. Meanwhile, GSA has temporarily paused the RFPs till further notice, as well as the opening of the Polaris Submission Portal has been put on hold.

GSA will release a subsequent amendment based on the assessment in which a new due date and RFP changes will be released. GSA has advised the offerors to pause the proposal activities until the assessment is completed.

March 25, 2022

GSA has finally released the much anticipated Polaris GWAC for two pools – the small business pool and the women-owned small business pool. The updated solicitation documents for the Small Business Pool and WOSB Pool can be accessed on sam.gov.

All small business contractors interested in bidding for this GWAC will have to register on Polaris Submission Portal (PSP), and the registrations will open no earlier than April 5, 2022. Any questions related to the solicitation must be submitted via the PSP, and the Polaris Contracting Officer will be the sole POC for all questions under this solicitation.

The proposals are due no later than 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on May 13, 2022

March 18, 2022

The General Services Administration (GSA) has recently announced some notable changes to the Polaris Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) draft solicitation and scorecard, expanding options for teaming arrangements. The update was released on GSA’s Interact page for Small Business GWAC Community of Interest.

The recent update issues answers to industry questions. It also clarifies and finalizes parts of the draft Request for Proposal (RFP). GSA will first open the competition to the Small Business Pool and Women-Owned Small Business Pool.

The final RFPs for these pools are expected soon. GSA anticipates releasing the RFPs for the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) Pools in the 4th quarter of FY2022.

January 27, 2022

The General Services Administration (GSA) has issued the first pre-solicitation notices for the Small Business and Women-Owned Small Business pools under the Polaris Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). The final Request for Proposals (RFP) are anticipated to be posted in February 2022.

The notices state, “Please hold all inquiries until after the solicitation is posted on SAM.gov. Proposals will be due approximately 30 days after the solicitation is posted.” Pre-solicitation notices for other pools will be posted at a later date.

Notice for Small Business Pool

Notice for WOSB Pool

Also read: 4 things to do before GSA Polaris is out

September 24, 2021

After receiving substantial feedback for the draft RFP issued in December 2020, and engaging customers and industry stakeholders in discussion, GSA has made some beneficial updates to the solicitation, with the aim of encouraging maximum participation by small businesses, emphasizing customer requirements, and reducing barriers to entry for small businesses.

So, what are these changes?

  • Addition of an SDVOSB Pool: A service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) pool has been added. Earlier, there were only SB, HUBZone, and WOSB pools. The number of businesses now qualifying for each pool is as follows: Small Business Pool: 100, HUBZone Pool: 60, SDVOSB Pool: 70, and WOSB Pool: 80.
  • Lowering of Minimum Dollar Threshold for Relevant Experience Projects: The minimum dollar thresholds for relevant experience have been reduced. The limit on project value has been brought down to $250k to qualify for points, which is great news for small businesses. For this contract, the project value for completed projects is the total obligated dollars. For ongoing projects, the project value is the total estimated value (inclusive of all option periods).
  • Change in the Number of Potential Relevant Experience Submissions: The number of potential relevant experience project submissions has been changed, but CPARS report or supporting documentation has been made compulsory for all the past performances. Offerors can now submit three to five examples of relevant experience but must submit at least three (3) projects, or their application will not be considered. Earlier the RFP allowed up to seven projects to be used for relevant experience.
  • Change in the Number and Value of Emerging Technology Experiences: Businesses aiming to score points in the Emerging Technology category must now meet a minimum project threshold of $250,000 and can provide up to three examples. Earlier this requirement was $150,000 and up to 6 submissions.
  • Clarifications and Explanations in Evaluation Criteria and Procedures: GSA has also released the Self Scoring Sheet, it assigns a Point Value to each element, specifies a maximum number of potential occurrences, total max points per element, and max point value. GSA has also elaborated the evaluation criteria by explaining the complete process of evaluation, Qualifying Number, and Acceptability Criteria in each section. Small businesses can team up with other small businesses in order to achieve maximum points in scoring, and score in their respective pools.

In the recent Polaris Industry Forum conducted by GSA, they revealed a tentative timeline for this contract vehicle:

STAGE Tentative Date
Release of Solicitation Late Fall 2021
Pre-Proposal Webinar Within 7 days of solicitation release
Questions Due Within 20-30 days of solicitation release
Proposals Due Within 40-60 days of solicitation release

Polaris GWAC: Opportunities from the updated draft

For small businesses, the updated draft provides an added opportunity, as contract values have been lowered and the addition of the SDVOSB pool looks promising for businesses that fall under it. The qualifying numbers of businesses have almost been equally divided throughout the pools giving an equal opportunity to all socio-economic categories. The submission process will be made easier for small businesses by the fact that GSA anticipates awards without the consideration of price. There will be regular on-ramps, and a technical refresh provision to keep up with changing customer needs. Additionally, GSA intends to have no contract ceiling – an opportunity for capable small businesses to make considerable profits.

Offerors still have a lot of time left to prepare a compelling response and maximize their scoring. Now is a good time to get started if you haven’t already. iQuasar is here to help maximize your score on your Polaris bid. We will help you develop a draft scorecard, perform a gap analysis to ensure that you make the cut-off score, and find ways to help you out-distance your competition. We will help evaluate strategies for teaming partners, perform capture to develop your win strategy, and prepare a compelling and compliant proposal. No matter how much assistance you require, we’re here to help.

To know more about how we will help you with Polaris

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