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The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to release a final request for proposal (RFP) for its new Polaris small business IT contract by summer 2021.
This week’s update to Bloomberg Government’s Top 20 Opportunities, Polaris is a new governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC). It emerged as a replacement for Alliant II Small Business (A2SB), following a protest decision in March 2019 that forced GSA to ditch A2SB awards.
Polaris will fill a major gap left by A2SB for agencies to acquire IT service-based solutions from small business that have a range of cutting-edge technologies. Detailed in a March 9 agency announcement, the contract will be divided into three subcategories, or pools, for companies as follows: HUBZone businesses, women-owned small businesses (WOSB), and other small businesses.
Contract requirements competed within those pools aim to support governmentwide IT modernization initiatives. To qualify for a Polaris contract award, companies will need experience performing one of seven defined performance areas including: cloud services, cybersecurity, data management, information and communications technologies, IT operations and maintenance, software development, and system design.
GSA designed the contract based on feedback from industry following an August 2020 forum and comments solicited through its Small Business GWAC Community of Interest, which it stood up around October 2020. A draft RFP was issued in Dec. 2020.
The exact final RFP release date is uncertain and the government provided no estimated value. BGOV estimates a release could be possible in July 2021 with a total estimated ceiling value up to $10 billion.
Polaris is Perfect Puzzle Piece
Once awarded, Polaris will complete GSA’s GWAC contract portfolio by enabling federal agencies to set-aside IT task orders to virtually all small business types. Agencies can use 8(a) STARS II and future 8(a) STARS III to buy services from 8(a) businesses. VETS 2 is available for service-disabled veteran-owned companies. Polaris will serve women-owned business and HubZones.
Together, the four contracts listed above accounted for nearly $14 billion spending obligations between fiscal years 2016 through 2020.
Like many previous GSA major contract competitions, such as Alliant and OASIS, GSA will apply a self-scoring method for evaluating awards. GSA confirmed more details about the evaluation process in the March 9 update and a draft scorecard will be released soon.
If the ratings resemble the self-scoring sheet applied for A2SB, contractors should expect to submit past performance on projects ranging from approximately $2 million to $15 million.
The A2SB self-scoring methodology included a rigorous set of possible points totaling 75,600. It included common factors available to each bidder, such as points for possessing certifications (ISO, CMMI, etc.) and additional points for things like security clearances. But, past performance is where bidders can really set themselves apart. A2SB project submission had a weighted range of points allocated on dollar size. For example, submitting a $2 million past performance project would score a bidder 500 points while a project valued at up to $15 million would score 1,500 points.
Contractors should expect a similar scoring structure for Polaris.
BGOV Competitive Intelligence
Clients interested in competing on orders that will flow to Polaris or other GSA small business GWACs can use BGOV to monitor upcoming recompetes. Click here to access 1,091 orders totaling $4.4 billion set to expire on or after Oct. 1, 2021 likely to be recompeted on the contracts listed above.
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