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 13th of May 2022, GSA released a modification to both the Polaris GWAC solicitations – the Small Business and the Women-Owned Small Business. 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 13, 2022 – Latest Update
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 – Latest Update
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 – Latest Update
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 – Latest Update
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 – Latest Update
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.
Also read: 4 things to do before GSA Polaris is out
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:
|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.