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The General Services Administration is aiming for 310 awards on its newest government-wide acquisition contract for small businesses.
GSA officials offered contractors a closer look Friday at its acquisition strategy for Polaris, a contract designed to help connect federal agencies with small, innovative contractors offering in-demand information technology services. Bloomberg Government estimates Polaris could generate $10 billion for hundreds of small IT companies over the next decade.
GSA plans to award 310 contracts in four pools—all of which will be set aside for small and disadvantaged businesses.
- Pool 1: Unrestricted small businesses (100 spots)
- Pool 2: HUBZone businesses (60 spots)
- Pool 3: Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB) (70 spots)
- Pool 4: Women-owned small businesses (80 spots)
Polaris was originally slated to have only three pools. But officials added a fourth for SDVOSBs in August based on input from industry participants. Prospective bidders may compete for spots in multiple Polaris pools, subject to their eligibility.
The update also shed light on the self-assessment rubric GSA officials will use to evaluate bids. Polaris bidders will have to assign themselves a score based on relevant experience, past performance ratings, expertise with emerging technologies, and other factors. The Polaris matrix will take into account scores for up to five “primary relevant experience projects,” down from seven in a previous iteration. Maximum points will be assigned for projects valued at more than $10 million, down from $15 million. Bidders can score up to 6,000 points for up to two projects in which they performed cybersecurity services. The maximum score is 91,500 for bidders in the unrestricted small business pool and 100,000 for each of the other three.
Federal agencies have used a similar self-scoring method for previous multiple-award contracts, such as Alliant, OASIS, ASTRO, and CIO-SP4. GSA officials will validate the self-scored proposals and award contracts to the companies scoring highest in each pool.
Similar to last year’s ASTRO, GSA officials won’t ask bidders for pricing information as part of the contract-level competition. Instead, Polaris will shift pricing considerations to the task order level in an effort to streamline the evaluation process and avoid pricing-related bid protests.
GSA officials have not released a timeline for issuing the final request for proposals. The agency initially indicated a summer 2021 RFP, but has delayed the process to incorporate additional feedback from industry.
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