The General Services Administration (GSA) has been under fire since it decided to cancel its IT services-focused Alliant 2 Small Business contract. The independent U.S. agency, which helps manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies, announced the cancelation of Alliant 2 Small Business in July.
The $15 billion contract was the companion to the $50 billion Alliant 2 Unrestricted GWAC. It had originally awarded 80 spots in December 2017, then changed some vendors in February 2018, and went on to cancel all awards in March 2019.
While the decision was met with protests, the GSA promised that the contract would be re-released under a new solicitation. And on New Year’s Eve, the GSA released the draft framework for the new contract, called Polaris.
The Polaris contract features three socioeconomic groups: small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and those within a historically under-utilized area (HUBZones). In addition, the contract’s offerings include IT services like cloud, data management, and software development, with a strong emphasis on emerging technologies, including advanced and quantum computing; artificial intelligence; automation technology; distributed ledger technology; edge computing; and immersive technology.
The draft RFP also includes seven categories of services to be offered, including cloud services, cybersecurity, data management, information and communication technologies, IT operations and maintenance, software development, and system design. In addition, select ancillary purchases of clerical support, data entry, and IT products, among others, will be allowed under this new contract.
Yet while Polaris appears to solve some of the problems with Alliant 2 SB, some believe that it could be more specific in certain areas.
According to analysts at The Pulse of GovCon, “Where Polaris is different is that GSA has set the bar so low that vendors will not really have to meet any real requirements, certifications or competitive thresholds at the initial level and leave everyone to duke it out and protest at the task order level.”