Alliant 2 versus Polaris: The Battle of the “Never Was” Versus “The Next Big Thing”

  |  April 8, 2021

Alliant 2 vs Polaris

With the Alliant 2 solicitation being shot down by the Court of Federal Claims, this article is for those organizations that thought they had won a seat at the Alliant 2 table only to have the Court win the “all in.” It also provides helpful tips to new bidders.  I’m going to compare the Alliant 2 RFP to the draft of the Polaris RFP and provide some insight as to what you may want to consider doing in preparation for the Polaris release.

The following Table (Table 1) provides a basic comparison:

Characteristic

Alliant 2

Polaris

Maximum Spend

$15B No ceiling

Minimum Spend

$2500 $2500

Pricing

Required at the labor category level and acts as a ceiling for Time and Materials work. Will be done at the individual task order level after award

Program Management Cost

Embedded in the program Embedded in the program

Eligibility

All small businesses Three pools:

· Small business

· HUBZone

· Woman-Owned Small Business

 

$30M size std.

Webpage data

More extensive information required to include DCMA contact information and contract insurance threshold information

Labor Categories

Standard IT Categories provided by the Department of Labor Labor categories provided in solicitation

Program Management Meetings

A maximum of four per year A maximum of two per year

Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM)

Not mentioned SCRM plan due within 30 days of the end of the contract year

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

Not required Required on DoD contracts and “contractors wishing to do business on Polaris monitor, prepare for and participate in acquiring CMMC certification.”

Minimum Contract Order Value

$1M $500K

 

As you can see, there are some subtle differences buried in the depths of the RFPs. Let’s now look at the differences in the heart of the matter – the responses.

Volumes: The volume structure of Polaris mirrors the structure of the Alliant 2 proposal minus a price volume. The same basic information is required under Polaris as under Alliant 2; however, there are subtleties:

  • The requirement for providing cost accounting system and audit information has been moved from Volume I under Alliant 2 to Volume 4 and is much stricter. Under Alliant 2 if you didn’t have an audit statement from DCAA, DCMA, or a CFA, you could still claim credit if you THOUGHT it had been audited. Under Polaris this is no longer the case. Only DCMA, DCAA, or CFA approval and audit are accepted. This is a direct result of the Court of Federal Claims decision that scuttled Alliant 2.
  • Neither an approved Earned Value Management System (EVMS) nor an acceptable Estimating System are part of the Polaris solicitation although either one might be required at the Task Order level

More detail about the volume structure and requirements are provided below. The bottom-line is that the Polaris response is just as complicated as the Alliant 2 response and will require an approach as meticulous as Alliant 2 required.

Polaris specific information:

The following information concerning the Polaris draft solicitation should give you more insight as to the level of effort and actions required to be a successful Bidder. The good news is, if you were successful under Alliant 2, then you probably have a high P(win) for Polaris.

Program Key Information: The Alliant 2 ceiling had been established at $2B but the draft Polaris RFP indicated that there is no maximum dollar ceiling!

There will most likely be three pools based upon size and socioeconomic status. They are:

  • Small Business
  • HUBZone
  • Women Owned Small Business

The procurement will be primarily for customized IT services, but some ancillary support may be included when integral to the IT effort. There will most likely be no pricing required since the intent is to establish pricing at the individual task order level. The resulting task orders issued under the IDIQ vehicle will cover the spectrum of contract types providing the GSA clients with a great degree of flexibility in ordering.

RFP Requirements: The response to this solicitation will be a complicated affair requiring a large amount of information for not only the Prime but for subcontractors, as well as JVs and CTAs.

The response is expected to entail six volumes (page counts have not been established, as of yet):

  • Volume 1 – General
  • Volume 2 – Relevant Experience
  • Volume 3 – Past Performance
  • Volume 4 – Systems, Certifications, and Clearances
  • Volume 5 – Risk Assessment
  • Volume 6 – Responsibility

Volume 2 will be the meat and potatoes of your response with Relevant Experience content required across five potential NAICS as well as your experience with projects of similar size and complexity, working with multiple Federal customers, and performing on cost reimbursement contracts, and task orders on other multiple-award contracts. You will also need to address OCONUS work, experience with subcontracting, cloud, and cybersecurity services. Finally, you’ll need to describe your experience in what the GSA is calling “Emerging Technology:”

  • Advanced and Quantum Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automation Technology
  • Distributed Ledger Technology
  • Edge Computing
  • Immersive Technology

For Past Performance, you will need to submit not only your write-ups but also Federal Procurement Data System-Not Germane (FPDS-NG) reports for each relevant contract. If the FPDs-NG report is not available, the you will also need to submit copies of original contract award documents and statements of work/performance work statements for the cited work.

Volume 4 is the volume containing evidence of your DCMA-approved cost account system, CMMI, ISO 9001/20000/27000 certifications, and evidence of your facility clearance. These are “optional,” but consider you ability to win if you don’t have them.  While certifications held by subcontractors won’t be considered, subcontractors must still provide Reps and Certs, Letters of Commitment, and may be used for Past Performance. Certifications for JVs must be held in the name of the JV or in the name of every member of the JV.

Volume 5 requires that you provide evidence of having performed in the same business arrangement as proposed. This means that if you are proposing as a JV that same JV has held contracts in its name with the same members. This same requirement extends to subcontractor teams. For subcontractors you need only prove that each subcontractor has performed on a contract before with the Prime.

Volume 6 will include the last full fiscal year financial statements as well as any interim statements.

Section M.6 of the Draft RFP contains a version of the Self Scoring Worksheet. No point values are assigned yet, but you will gain some insight as to what to expect when the final RFP is released

Did I not say it would be COMPLICATED???

Status: The solicitation is expected to be released sometime in June of this year giving you approximately two months to prepare. This release date could be delayed because GSA must get this right, given the Alliant 2 results.

How Do I Win: Compliance will be the key to winning given all the moving parts the response will require. It is unknown how much the final RFP will differ from the draft, so there are still some vagaries as to what the response requirements will look like. Make sure your proposal team is geared toward tracking multiple documents and that your Proposal Manager has some experience with GWACs that use self-scoring devices. This would include programs like CIO-SPx, Alliant x, and OASIS.

What Do I Need to Do NOW: Simply put – PLAN. The following is a suggested set of tasks by month that should assist in managing the response burden:

 

Timeframe

Tasks

April

·       Consider having a third party perform a Proposal Readiness Review (PRR) to baseline where you are and to identify specific actions necessary to prepare for the solicitation’s release

· Download the draft RFP and become familiar with all the moving parts

· Develop a tracking capability for all the materials that will need to be gathered and submitted subdivided by team member

· Review the Self Scoring Worksheet contained in M.6 and begin to gather the requisite information

· Join the Small Business GWAC Community of Interest. GSA has recommended this site as a way to stay current on the acquisition effort

· Identify your proposal team and get your Proposal Manager involved with the draft RFP – get outside help if necessary to have a dedicated resource

· Begin working with your intended teammates and identify to each the information they will be expected to provide

· Identify any required data calls and begin rolling them out, as appropriate

· Start reviewing candidate programs for both Relevant Experience and for Past Perform. Recognize that some information will need to come from Government systems so plan accordingly

· Monitor SAM for the release of new information/files

May

· Early in the month, determine if outside proposal resources are needed and start the contracting efforts

· Establish a schedule for status calls to track your data calls

· Start to finalize your Relevant Experience candidates as well as Past Performance candidates – begin getting the required data together and begin drafting your citations

· Monitor SAM for the release of new information/files

June

· Continue gathering information and refining content based upon the draft RFP

· Monitor SAM for the release of new information/files and the final solicitation

 

GOOD LUCK!

Errata:

GovWin Opportunity ID:            198353

Beta.SAM.Gov Notice ID:          N/A, at this time

 

Need help on Polaris GWAC?

Comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.