NITAAC Extends Due Date for CIO-SP4 After Bidding Issues

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The National Institutes of Health IT Acquisition and Assessment Center has extended the bid deadline for its $40 billion CIO-SP4 vehicle due to complaints and issues with the proposal submission portal it requires vendors to use. .

NITAAC has asked all contractors who previously submitted proposals in August to resubmit bids through a third-party portal provided by Innovo by January 28 at 5 p.m. Bids for CIO-SP4 must now be submitted by February 11 at 5 p.m.

NITAAC initiated this purchase over 10 months ago and is now facing more delay until allocations are made.

Industry sources say the portal was by no means ready for prime time.

“Companies have submitted trouble tickets for egregious bugs, and the company and NITAAC are not responding. Innovo’s CEO himself responds occasionally in support chat sessions, but provides little feedback. information,” said an industry official, who requested anonymity because their company is bidding on the vehicle. “The website requires significant manual data entry on online forms, duplicating data already included in the body of the proposal files that you need to upload, as all the corporate experience contract details need to be entered manually on the website in order to generate your [self-scoring] point score. The worst issues include the website erasing saved data, the save function just not working and resulting in errors (i.e. you can’t save), not even being able to load the website. As right now you can’t even enter, and inconsistencies with formatting requirements in the RFP (eg required filenames not supported by website).

The extra two weeks is a respite for suppliers who were struggling to submit their proposals because the portal was not working well.

Another industry official, who also requested anonymity, said there were likely 1,000 bidders for CIO-SP4 and it appears the portal was unable to handle the load. .

“It was working for us at 8am, then at 9.30am there were issues. I suspect that as more and more people started using the portal, it couldn’t handle traffic,” the manager said. “We believe, based on our own data, that there are over 2,000 support tickets that have been submitted, including over 400 in the last 24 hours. .”

The source said their company had already spent five hours submitting information and it would take another four to eight hours to complete submitting the data to bid on CIO-SP4 because the portal is so slow and cumbersome.

Innovo CEO David Kramer referred to an email seeking comment on NITAAC’s portal.

Brian Goodger, the acting director of NITAAC, repeated in an emailed statement to Federal News Network what Amendment 15 said, which was, “Receiving CIO-SP4 proposals from all eligible bidders is one of the highest priorities of the NITAAC program. To that end, we have extended the submission date to February 11, 2022 to allow all proposals to be successfully submitted and to address any perceived issues with the Insight tool.

Associations in contact with NITAAC

Industry associations and others may disagree that these are ‘perceived issues’, as they have also heard from members about frustrations with the portal.

“Several PSC companies have alerted us to technical challenges with the CIO-SP4 submission portal, and we have communicated these concerns to NITAAC officials,” said Stephanie Kostro, executive vice president of policy for the Professional Services Council. “A solution is needed, whether it is an extension of the submission deadline and/or the authorization of submissions by email, to ensure that submissions are accurate and complete. agency responded to our correspondence, noting that receiving CIO-SP4 proposals from all eligible Offerors is one of the program’s highest priorities and indicated that they “will ensure sufficient time is given to receive submissions of proposals”.

The Coalition for Public Procurement has also confirmed that its members are experiencing issues with the proposal submission portal.

“Given the difficulties faced by several companies in submitting information through the online portal, NITAAC has rightly extended the deadline for proposals to February 11,” said Roger Waldron, chairman of the coalition. “Furthermore, it is imperative for NITAAC to provide companies that have already submitted their proposals the opportunity to validate the accuracy of the data reflected in their submission. This validation is important to determine the pervasiveness of portal data issues and should be part of a review of the system by NITAAC to determine if the system meets procurement needs. NITAAC should report to all Offerors on their findings and plans to address these issues. »

Brad Barker, president of 8M Strategies, which offers advice and works with clients bidding on CIO-SP4, said that while he has received help with trouble tickets, the portal has been struggling for several days.

“When it first came out, there was no blueprint for what was wrong. We heard it worked better with Edge browser compared to Chrome. Then it didn’t work on Firefox but on Chrome,” he said. “Downloading info and hitting the save button also didn’t work properly. I heard someone comment that it wasn’t sure that this portal has undergone user testing before launching it.

Auto-score sheet changes

Part of the reason the portal can be highlighted is that NITAAC has changed the requirements for vendors to submit evidence for their self-assessment sheet.

Barker said Amendment 14 of Jan. 14 required each bidder to submit supporting documentation to support their self-assessment for each task order area.

“If I say I have XYZ experience and it’s worth 100 points, I need a form to prove it. Before, I could only upload one document to satisfy my self-assessment sheet,” Barker said. “This places a significant burden on entrepreneurs. We have a client for whom it took five days of work and another client who required four days of work for a full-time person.

NITAAC decided to ask suppliers who originally submitted bids in August to resubmit them after losing a bid protest in November.

The road to getting to the final bids for NITAAC has been a bumpy one, to say the least. He faced more than 20 protests, winning all but the last.

It has issued 15 amendments since March, and industry frustrations have risen and fallen over the past year.

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