The Government Accountability Office (GAO) upheld 98 protests to the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center’s (NITAAC) $50 billion Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) IT services contract, concluding that the agency “unreasonably evaluated” companies in the first evaluation phase.

CIO-SP4 is designed to deliver IT solutions and services in an infinite-delivery and infinite-quality contract, with a ceiling of $50 billion and a five-year option. CIO-SP4 will replace the CIO-SP3 contract, which NITAAC has extended through October 2023.

GAO said it upheld the protests filed by 64 offerors for two main reasons. One, because NITAAC’s record does not show that it reasonably evaluated companies’ phase one proposals, “as required by the solicitation.” And two, because the agency did not reasonably determine which proposals would advance to the next stages of competition.

Additionally, GAO concluded that the agency unreasonably evaluated specific aspects of one company’s phase one proposal, Sky Solutions LLC.

“GAO recommended that the agency reevaluate proposals consistent with the decision, and make new determinations of which proposals advance past phase one of the competition based on the results of these new evaluations,” Kenneth E. Patton, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at GAO, said in a statement regarding the decision.

“GAO denied the remaining arguments raised by the protesters, including untimely challenges to the terms of the solicitation, and challenges to other aspects of the evaluations,” Patton added.

Patton said GAO’s decision was issued under a protective order, as it “may contain proprietary and source selection sensitive information.”

GAO plans to issue a public version of the decision after outside counsel for the parties involved reviews the decision for sensitive information. It will also issue a separate decision that addresses the protests filed by firms that were not represented by counsel “at a later date.”

This decision by GAO likely means that NITAAC will need to reevaluate the 98 companies and rethink its initial awards. NITAAC made an initial 431 awards under the contract in March, facing another round of protests from industry.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.