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The Polaris small business and women-owned small business requests for proposals released June 30 have increased requirements for small business past performance.
There is no contract ceiling on Polaris. The 68 incumbent vendors on the existing Alliant Small Business contract, which is being replaced by Polaris, have received a combined $10 billion since the first awards were made in fiscal 2009. Alliant SB incumbents are among the likely bidders on Polaris.
The General Services Administration suspended the first two of four Polaris requests for proposal in early April following complaints from industry participants and a pre-bid protest over last-minute changes to evaluation rules that made teaming arrangements more expansive.
Those revisions would have allowed small businesses to maximize evaluation scores by relying exclusively on the past performance of large business partners, potentially squeezing independent small bidders out of contention for slots as well as putting winners at a disadvantage in competing for task orders.
The newly released proposals require offers from small business mentor-protégé arrangements to include at least one example of relevant experience from the protégé and no more than three examples from the mentor. Additionally, proposals from joint ventures must include descriptions of relevant work and qualifications for each partner, with explicit statements acknowledging when any of the partners lack previous experience or expertise.
Polaris will focus particularly on emerging IT arenas such as artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology, edge computing, and immersive technology. The government-wide vehicle will also support Biden Administration initiatives to increase small business participation in the federal marketplace.
The contracts will be Best-in-Class vehicles, making them preferred vehicles across government. The contract’s period of performance will be a five-year base with a five-year option period.
The four Polaris vehicles will be total small business set-asides, with the first two devoted to small and women-owned businesses and the remaining two focused on companies in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB). GSA estimates it will make up to 100 small business and 80 women-owned small business awards on Polaris.
The Polaris vehicles will replace awards previously planned under GSA’s Alliant 2 Small Business vehicle, which was canceled two years ago after becoming mired in protests.
Submission deadlines have been pushed to Aug. 10 to account for the nearly three-month delay.
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