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CIO-SP4 Contracting Opportunities Abound

Small businesses can bid on anything in the multibillion-dollar offering.

The Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) is adopting a new approach to information technology contracting that could be a boon to small businesses, according to the acting director of its contracting agent. The NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), the federal executive agent for four GWACs covering information technology services and commodity solutions, has issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) for CIO-SP4 that could be worth up to $40 billion over its lifetime.

And unlike previous GWACs for information technology, every aspect of this one will be broadly open to small businesses, said Brian K. Goodger, NITAAC acting director and associate director, Office of Logistics and Acquisition Operations. Speaking at an AFCEA Small Business Committee virtual meeting, Goodger explained that CIO-SP4’s predecessor, CIO-SP3, was divided into two parts, with the second part earmarked for small business acquisition. CIO-SP4 is “double the value, half the GWACs,” he said in explaining that every aspect of the new program is open to small business, thus reducing the administrative burden for government and industry that is inherent in a two-GWAC concept.

Even with just one GWAC, large businesses will compete against large businesses, and small businesses will compete against small businesses, Goodger says. The NITAAC has identified a range of anticipated awards in each of the business sizes and socio-economic categories. The number of awards for small businesses will likely stay the same as were available in CIO-SP3.

Even with its ubiquitous access for small businesses, the new program will have small business set-asides of all types—SB, HUBZone, service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) and 8(a). Goodger added that these would continue to be a significant part of performance in CIO-SP4.

Goodger offered some advice for potential bidders. The NITAAC would prefer to receive contractor teaming arrangements (CTAs) or joint ventures (JVs) from companies that already have worked well together on government information technology programs over the past three years. Companies shouldn’t form new CTAs or JVs just to bid on this GWAC, he emphasized.

This could be a problem for the parent companies of spinoffs, he noted. If a company subsidiary is spun off after working on a government information technology contract, its parent firm is not entitled to claim that specific contract expertise. The new spinoff alone retains the expertise.

While clearances are not required, they are useful, he clarified. For example, a person without a clearance might not be able to gain access to a base or a post to service a Defense Department customer. In that case, a clearance is necessary to perform the contract work.

The draft RFP is already out, and the final RFP will be released by the end of calendar year 2020—probably mid-December. The proposals' due date will change to March 1, 2021, he offered. The goal is to make award notices by Christmas holiday in 2021, with performance scheduled to begin in May 20212. This will allow plenty of time for protests without pushing the start date so far into the future that CIO-SP3 would need to be extended, Goodger says, adding that the NITAAC expects two rounds of protests.