New protests likely to thwart CIO-SP4 award plan Lim / 500px

The National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition hub could still make awards, but will have to certify that its need to move on this $50 billion contract is urgent.

More protests are piling into the Government Accountability Office that most likely will derail plans by the National Institutes of Health's IT acquisition organization to award the potential $50 billion CIO-SP4 vehicle this week.

One protest by Systems Plus Inc. is on the GAO protest docket. But a source indicated that several more companies will file protests before the end of the week and added -- They just beat us to the punch."

I'm told that five companies filed protests on Thursday and at least three more will do so on Friday.

More likely than not, those protests will likely delay plans by NIH's IT Acquisition and Assessment Center to announce awards on Friday. Agencies generally cannot award contracts when there are pending protests.

But agencies can override that regulation if they make a case an award is urgently needed. But with multiple pending protests, it is hard to imagine that NITAAC will do that.

The sticking point for the protesters remains the threshold NITAAC set for the self-scoring mechanism that is part of the down select process. All the protests so far have dealt with the vehicle's small business portion.

Protesters have complained that NITAAC has set an arbitrary threshold for bidders to meet. A company needs to meet the threshold in order to move onto phases two and three of the competition.

The CIO-SP4 protests have come in waves and each time, NITAAC has taken a corrective action.

In the first corrective action, NITAAC said it would reconsider the threshold. The most corrective action came after the agency discovered inconsistencies in how it implemented the previous corrective action.

NITAAC more recently announced that it planned to announce awards on Friday, March 24.

The agency wants to get awards out soon because CIO-SP3 will expire April 29 and NITAAC will want enough overlap between both vehicles to assure a smooth transition.

It doesn’t look like that will happen, unless NITAAC moves to extend CIO-SP3.

There was no response from NITAAC for a request for comment.