On November 23, 2021, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustained part of Computer World Services Corp.’s protest of a CIO-SP4 solicitation – a surprising turn of events, since the National Institute of Health IT Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) had previously won 22 straight protests of its CIO-SP4 acquisitions.
CWS claimed the requirement that large businesses who are part of a mentor-protégé program with a small business could only submit two examples of past performance, while other joint ventures or teaming arrangements could submit three examples was unreasonable and didn’t treat bidders equally. GAO agreed with CWS when NITAAC couldn’t defend its position sufficiently.
MMM’s Michelle Litteken and counsel for CWS spoke to Federal News Network and said, “Agencies can shape their solicitation criteria anyway they want, but they need to be able to explain it and they weren’t able to come up with an explanation here. They didn’t explain why they were treating a joint venture with a large mentors differently from other partnerships.”
Litteken said by not imposing the same limitations on all teams, NITAAC was making it more difficult for these mentor-protégé teams to win a spot.
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