The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced on November 1, 2021 that the Commerce Acquisition for Transformational Technology Services (CATTS) is anticipated to be released by November 15, 2021. This is a $1.5B (1 base year + 9 option years) multiple award IDIQ vehicle targeted to small businesses ($30M ceiling). CATTS, through issuance of organization-specific task orders, seeks to procure a range of IT-related services in six major areas: CIO support, Digital Document and Records Management, Managed Service Outsourcing and Consulting, IT Operations and Maintenance, Information Technology Services Management, and Cyber Security. A wide array of draft solicitation documents is available by accessing this link: https://sam.gov/opp/c19d38a462394679a736e37881f54018/view. It is important to note, however, that the questions and answers derive from an early phase of the acquisition, and certain directives were modified by the time of the release of the draft solicitation.
Evaluation notes for Commerce CATTS Program
Offerors will be evaluated through a two-phase down-select evaluation process. Phase 1 evaluates only the offeror’s verification of a Top-Secret facilities clearance (a must-have), and a self-assessment Excel worksheet—through which offeror’s verify their possession of relevant corporate experience/past performance—citations and brief (100-word) associated narratives across the six service areas. While the facilities clearance is a no-brainer (you have it or you’re out); the self-assessment needs to be clear, concise, and convincing. Thus, cited projects thoughtfully selected and the narratives well-conceived and well-written. A couple of concerning issues here: while the Industry Day slides mandated coverage of ALL six service areas; the later draft solicitation only “recommends” full coverage. In truth, however, if you, the offeror cannot cover all six, your chances of selection are slim to none. While the total number of eventual awardees is unspecified, assume there will be enough Phase 1 worthy bidders covering all areas to elbow out those falling short. SO, COME TO THIS WITH A STRONG TEAM!!
Additional uncertainty arises from the ability of offerors discarded at Phase 1 to appeal their exclusion. Those curious about how this might work in the rough and tumble world of Federal acquisition might want to query this through the formal Q&A opportunity post RFP release. While the Industry Day slideshow advanced the silly notion that the Phase 1 down-select would be completed in 2 weeks, with those authorized to proceed given a mere 1 additional week after notification to submit their Phase 2 proposals (full blown, major document submissions), it may still be advised for offerors to develop a proposal plan, scheduling, and resourcing strategy that does NOT involve waiting for the Phase 1 news to spring into action. OFFERORS MUST ASSUME THEY WILL BE INVITED TO PROCEED ON TO PHASE 2.
As for Phase 2, a typical IDIQ submission, really: a 5-page Business Proposal containing the usual business/contract-related stuff—easily do-able by a corporate contracts person; followed by a significant 50-page Tech Proposal—through which both capability and feasible solution-izing of the SOW service areas must be handled—SERVICE AREA TECHNICAL EXPERTISE + WRITING VIRTUOSITY A MUST; and a 15-page Past Performance Proposal, which again solicits traditional PP material…although there is ambiguity concerning whether all three PP summaries must come from just the Prime Offeror. Pricing Proposal (standard stuff but warranting IDIQ-specific expertise); and last and certainly not least, a 20-page sample Task Order proposal response—not just a final hurdle to jump over BUT FULL AND UNEQUIVOCAL PROOF THAT YOUR TEAM ACTUALLY IS CAPABLE OF DOING FULLY COMPLIANT, BEST VALUE, AND HIGHLY-PROFESSIONAL-IN-EVERY-WAY TO PROPOSALS. Screw this up, and, no matter how good everything else is, an award is not in your future.
All that remains is a few final recommendations for the Commerce CATTS Program. Offerors must indicate their IDIQ experience, along with their IT experience in both the Tech and PP proposals, through which it is demonstrated that you not only have the technical/experience chops, but, as a company, you actually know how to efficiently and effectively win TO contracts. And second, staff and manage them smartly and successfully following award. The solicitation suggests a 1-week turnaround for TO proposal submissions after TO RFP release. If you have the SOPs, software and hardware, facilities, and resources in place to be a CATTS bidding and managing machine, no opportunity should be missed in your Tech Proposal to make this clear.
OCI, in addition to furnishing you with a solid supporting cast of tech writers, IT SMEs, pricing specialists, also has the people to sell your IDIQ abilities.
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