Ken Blair

The high estimated spend and number of awards make CIO-SP4 the most attractive opportunity of 2020.  Estimated spend – $40B; with 64 large business  and 343 small business incumbents.

CIO-SP4 Background:

Recently, HHS released a draft RFP for CIO-SP4 and has estimated a Dec 2020 release for the final RFP. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with previous iterations, CIO-SP4 is an IDIQ Government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) for multiple types of IT and professional services spread across 10 distinct task areas (more on that below).


Per the draft RFP, CIO-SP4 will have 10 task areas:

  • Task Area 1: IT Services for Biomedical Research, Health Sciences, and Healthcare (MANDATORY TASK AREA)
  • Task Area 2: Chief Information Officer (CIO) Support
  • Task Area 3: Digital Media
  • Task Area 4: Outsourcing
  • Task Area 5: IT Operations and Maintenance
  • Task Area 6: Integration Services
  • Task Area 7: Critical Infrastructure Protection and Information Assurance
  • Task Area 8: Digital Government
  • Task Area 9: Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Task Area 10: Software Development

These task areas are essentially the same as those under the CIO-SP3 contract. While Task Area 1 has a mandatory response, the number of other task areas requiring a response varies based upon business size and socio-economic factors. Large businesses must respond to all 10 task areas, while others must respond to four to seven, depending on socio-economic status.

While HHS is expected to be the primary user of the new GWAC, . . . DoD, USDA, VA, Dept of Education, and DoJ made significant use of the previous contract. Given that contracting officers and agencies get comfortable with certain contracting vehicles, expect the same cast of characters for CIO-SP4.

How Do I Win CIO-SP4:

 The “tea leaves” indicate the NIH Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), as the contracting organization for HHS, intends to use a scorecard approach similar to that seen in the GSA One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services Small Business (OASIS) contract. This means that individual offerors will “self-score” across a number of different areas. As with life, the higher the score, the more likely you are to win, assuming the Government’s evaluation team agrees with your assessment. Another aspect of NITAAC’s approach is that it will be documentation-centric. During the CIO-SP3 Small Business On-ramp conducted in 2016, more than 100 files needed to be uploaded to be responsive to the solicitation!

What Do I Need to Do NOW:

Experience has shown that CIO-SP4 will not be a response effort you can win while waiting for the final RFP to start writing. If you intend to bid, several actions need to begin in the near-term to be ready to win when the final solicitation is released.

  • Conduct a “Proposal Readiness Review (PRR)”— A PRR can be done over the course of a few days and can tell you if you are clearly qualified to bid. It will also show you what holes you need to fill prior to the final RFP and help you determine the path to fill those holes. Using a third-party to perform the review can provide you with an unbiased view as to where you stand and in terms of point score. The PRR should inform you whether a bid is worth your precious B&P resources. A minimum deliverable from the PRR should be a project plan providing a clear path for being ready to win when the final RFP is released.
  • Review your candidate experience projects— Consider looking at all your project efforts completed within the last three to five years, and then do an in-depth review of each of them. In the best possible light, they should (1) have a healthcare-related focus but be extensible, so that agencies other than HHS can see a fit. They must have (2) at least “Very Good” CPARs and should have (3) a value of at least $5M. Meeting these three criteria won’t guarantee a win; but not meeting them makes the path to an award much more arduous, considering the competition.
  • Start gathering your documentation— There will most likely be a considerable amount of other documentation required for your submission. These items may include various ISO-certifications and CMMI accreditations as well as annual reports, line of credit letters, etc. If you are going to partner or have contractor team arrangements, then realize you will not only need those agreements yourself, but also similar documents as stated here from each teaming partner.
  • Get your accounting system reviewed — If you don’t have a certified accounting system, take action now to get a third-party CPA to conduct an audit. Your accounting system must have an independent review and be rated as to adequate for determining costs in accordance with FAR 16.301-3(a)(1).

Conclusion:  A plus up of this program for bidders is that, you DO NOT have to perform a lengthy business development workup with the Program Personnel to win.  Because, if you have quality experience that conclusively addresses the requirements, this is enough. However, vendors who would have to bend and stretch their quals into a pretzel to bid should look elsewhere.

Preparing now for the final CIO-SP4 RFP release will pay dividends going forward. Using an activity such as a Proposal Readiness Review (PRR) will let you know where you stand, will better inform your bid decision, and will help you identify the hurdles you must jump to win.


GovWin Opportunity ID:            177166

Beta.SAM.Gov Notice ID:         75N98120R00002


Have questions? Need help with CIO-SP4?