Unsuccessful CIO-SP4 bidders may have renewed hopes

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The National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition arm will re-evaluate the method it used to narrow the field for the $50 billion IT services vehicle.

A new twist has emerged in the saga over the potential $50 billion CIO-SP4 IT services vehicle that will let protestors and disappointed bidders back into the competition.

In a letter viewed by Washington Technology, the National Institutes of Health organization running the acquisition has told the Government Accountability Office that it is taking a voluntary corrective action regarding the first round of eliminations from the competition.

The NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center will take a second look at the self-scoring cutoff line it used to eliminate bidders.

Those eliminations kicked off protests at GAO by 10 companies. A version of the letter we saw involved a subset of those 10, but the names of the companies are redacted. Sources indicated that NITAAC was applying the corrective action to all of the protesters.

As of Monday, the protests are still listed as active on the GAO docket. They will likely be marked as dismissed over the coming days.

The corrective action goes right to the heart of the complaints about CIO-SP4.

NITAAC relied on self-scoring assessments in a phase one down selection process to narrow the field of competitors.

Companies that did not hit a certain level were eliminated. The 10 companies that filed protests objected to being knocked out and questioned that cutoff line.

In the letter, NITAAC told GAO it would reassess the self-scoring cutoff line and will make a new determination on which offerors will move onto phase two. NITAAC also said it would correct any other errors it finds during that reassessment.

NITAAC believes it is addressing the concerns raised in the protests, so it has asked GAO to dismiss the protests.

I've reached out to NITAAC but no response yet. One question I hope NITAAC will answer is how broadly the corrective action applies. Does it affect only the protesters, or does it apply to all the companies that were eliminated because their scores were considered too low?

A corrective action for all the eliminated companies means a near-restart of the evaluation process, at least for that group. The companies who have already been cleared for phase two are likely unaffected.