One of the more common issues facing small businesses is how they are handled when it comes to the award of large Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts.
A good example is the recent award of the Commerce Acquisition for Transformational Technology Services (CATTS) contract in support of Agencies governmentwide. Normally, large IDIQs of this nature are meant to help small businesses build long-term relationships with government while increasing and supporting the small business industrial base. However, in the case of CATTS, small businesses don’t see it that way and 12 of them have submitted protests to the Court of Federal Claims.
What is CATTS?
The CATTS multiple award contract is a $1.5 billion contract that will provide a wide range of IT services to Agencies Governmentwide. The contract has a 10-year term and was open to small businesses.
The CATTS IDIQ is designed to provide a variety of IT services, including:
- IT infrastructure support
- Application development and maintenance
- Cybersecurity services
- Data analytics and visualization
- Cloud computing services
CATTS is divided into six task areas:
- CIO support
- Digital document and records management
- Managed service outsourcing and consulting
- IT operations and maintenance
- Information technology services management
- Cyber security
So, What Happened?
The small business community has severely criticized CATTS from the beginning. Commerce is now dealing with a dozen vendor protests. Only 15 winners were selected of the 87 proposals submitted. Protesters say that the procurement was flawed from the beginning and during the debriefing many were told that they were disqualified during evaluation for failing to demonstrate their ability towards a specific criterion. Vendors disagree and claim that Commence never requested a demonstration to be included; therefore, no demonstration was submitted.
Whether due to a confusing solicitation or a flawed procurement riddled with inconsistencies, there were many factors contributing to the confusion. The solicitation:
- Included 13 amendments
- Had over 2,000 questions submitted by vendors
- Included numerous extensions of the due date.
Unsuccessful small businesses cite many reasons that the procurement was unfair, which has given them no choice but to protest the award. Protests to the Court of Federal Claims typically take longer and are more expensive. Commerce claims that the procurement was executed correctly and continue to stand their ground.
What Do the Protesters want from Commerce?
Protesters are hoping that Commerce reevaluates the bids or even cancels the entire procurement and starts over. Another option could be to award a contract to the protesters given that the cost of adding 12 more vendors is minimal, although changes the original intent of the solicitation. Stay tuned for updates.
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Roman, a GSA Schedule consultant, provides support to contract holders working tirelessly to keep clients up to date and compliant.