As the GWAC turns, HCaTS, Alliant 2 continue bid protest evolution

HCaTs is back on track. Alliant 2 continues to come under attack. These are the days of our GWAC lives.

The General Services Administration gave the go-ahead to 109 vendors who won spots on the Human Capital and Training Solutions (HCaTs) unrestricted and small business contracts to begin promoting and selling against the governmentwide acquisition contract.

“The stay of performance that resulted from the HCaTS protests has been lifted,” wrote GSA to in an email to vendors, which Federal News Radio obtained. “The HCaTS Kick-Off event will be scheduled soon.”

GSA made the awards under 20-year, $11.5 billion HCaTS in May, but 26 protests delayed the launch of the program.

Over the last three months or so, the Government Accountability Office denied or dismissed the protests freeing the GWAC from the stay issued while under protest.

With the notice to proceed, agencies can start buying an assortment of services for the pool of vendors:

  • Customized training and development services;
  • Customized human capital strategy services; and
  • Customized organizational performance improvement

While GSA received good news around HCaTS, it’s next generation IT services contract known as Alliant 2 continues to face obstacles.

Just over a month after GSA faced its first bid protest over Alliant 2 by Enterprise Information Services, a second vendor submitted a protest to GAO.

Evolver Inc. of Reston, Virginia is asking GAO to review whether GSA can rightfully require vendors to meet specific requirements for back-end accounting and purchasing systems, according to a source familiar with the protest.

The source said GSA’s requirements are unduly restrictive because some small and medium-sized companies cannot get the government’s approval for these back-office systems, and there are no substitutes.

The source didn’t want to offer any further details about the back-end systems.

Since this is a pre-award protest, GSA can continue to accept and review bids on the solicitation, but cannot make an award until the protest is decided.

GAO has until Dec. 23 to decide this case.

Enterprise Information Services decided to withdraw its protest on Sept. 8, which was before the 30-day deadline for GSA to have responded to the protest.

Vendors are not required to tell GAO why they withdraw a protest. EIS’ lawyer Alex Brittin said the company didn’t want to discuss it’s reason for withdrawal. Some experts said GSA may have shared information with EIS causing it to vacate its complaint.

While all of this is happening, GSA has extended the due date for bids for Alliant 2 for at least the second time. Interestingly, the agency chose Oct. 7, the same day bids for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions RFP under the NS2020 program are due.

The two due dates are requiring several vendor teams to pull double duty to get proposals finished on time.

The latest protest under Alliant 2 will not be the program’s last. Many expect once GSA makes awards, any unsuccessful bidders will file protest delaying the program further. However, GSA could do what it did last time and just let everyone who bids on the contract and let the real competition happen at the task order level. That would be something.

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