Why CIO-SP4 has to take a break
The federal government’s need for health information technology solutions is high and is only expected to grow exponentially as we continue to recover and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But one of the largest government buyers of commercially available healthcare IT solutions is struggling to determine exactly what to buy and how to buy it at a time when management is top priority with advances in technology Keep up.
Within the Department of Health and Human Services is the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, a full-service acquisition program named as federal executive director and authorized by the Office of Management and Budget to manage government-wide acquisitions for IT contracts Acquisitions.
The next iteration of the NITAAC Chief Information Officer-Solution Partners contract vehicle has the potential to harness the skills and innovations of the private sector to help government agencies unlock new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new human health challenges.
The CIO SP3 contract is widely recognized by industry and government agencies as a successful vehicle for health information technology requirements, both for small businesses and for unrestricted purposes.
Over the past 18 months, NITAAC’s Professional Services Council has provided feedback on numerous occasions on the need to clarify the final call for proposals by CIO-SP4 and the importance of reasonable deadlines for submitting proposals. Expressing concern that the competition was under-resourced, PSC then asked for both another draft RFP and NITAAC to publish the OMB Business Case for the industry and potential vendors to review. The OMB MAX system is Not a system that industry can access.
Surely there are “pledges” from agencies to support the business case for OMB approval for CIO-SP4. The lack of government customer spending forecasts beyond an analysis of previous CIO SP3 issues only hinders critical business decisions for companies whether to compete for this GWAC or wait for other GWACs like GSA Polaris, GSA Services MAC, or existing vehicles.
In other words, an unsuccessful CIO-SP4 GWAC is an existential threat to the long-term success of NITAAC, the broader capacity of government procurement workers to place orders in a timely manner, and threatens the vitality of healthcare IT companies looking for the To support the federal government with private sector solutions.
Unfortunately, the CIO-SP4 re-competition has repeatedly been delayed. The final call for tenders was scheduled for December 15, 2020, but was finally published on May 25, 2021. The first seven changes, released since late May 2021, have further exacerbated industry concerns, forcing potential vendors to consider alternative strategies or to choose not to bid on the CIO SP4 opportunity at all.
Numerous short extensions to major teaming agreement revisions reflect NITAAC’s disregard or misunderstanding of how the industry prepares teams and solutions in today’s government technology and professional services market.
It appears that private debates between the various stakeholders within the government that took place during the fall, winter and spring are now being publicly conducted through these numerous changes to the final tender. PSC encourages all government agencies involved in this procurement, including the Small Business Administration, to speak with one voice through NITAAC about what the CIO-SP4 GWAC will be, how bids will be evaluated, and how the contract will be carried out.
On a June 28th Letter to the NITAAC leadership, PSC requested NITAAC to review several decisions contained in the final tender as amended, taking into account applicable laws and regulations, and to immediately inform the industry of the reasons for these decisions through procurement documentation.
On a July 22nd Letter to the takeover of HHS and NIH, PSC stated that Amendment 7 to the final call for tenders for CIO-SP4 probably now requires providers to abandon existing partnerships / teaming structures or make major changes. These changes create a significant administrative burden for the contractor. The additional two weeks of the addendum to the submission of the offer (extension of the period from July 23 to August 3) are not sufficient.
The industry needs NITAAC to reach consensus, put the pen aside, and ensure that interested vendors have enough time to respond. Thirty days should be the minimum. Forty-five days would not be an unreasonable request, given the history of this invitation.
Amendment 8, released on July 23, appeared to have helped many companies stay competitive. On July 29th, NITAAC released Instructions for submitting proposals and the industry interprets this development as a signal that there are no more major changes to be made and that the current acquisition schedule will remain in place.
As of this writing, several pre-award protests are pending and proposals are due tomorrow, Tuesday, August 3, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
If the last year and a half has shown us something, we must make the most of the technical possibilities of the private sector and bring them to the government for the good and for the good of all.