First OASIS protests likely not the last

Protestor: Pass/fail standards in OASIS unrestricted RFP unfair to small businesses, violate federal rules.

justice

The first two formal protests against the General Services Administration's One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) multiple-award contract likely won't be the last, especially after responses come in next month for the $60 billion vehicle.

"I'm not surprised," Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, said of the two protests filed against the OASIS request for proposals on Aug. 9. More protests are likely given the complexity of the OASIS evaluation criteria for vendors, he said.

One of the protests was by a group called the Voice of Small Business in America. That protest is backed by Aljucar, Anvil-Incus and Co., an international financial advisory and program and venture management consultancy based in Washington, D.C. Rudy Sutherland, the firm's head of practice, told FCW that the evaluation criteria in the RFP is unfair to small companies. The firm's position is that the pass/fail requirements for relevant experience on the OASIS unrestricted solicitation are unduly restrictive. The unrestricted pass/fail requirements in the RFP conflict with federal policy that lets vendors team up, according to the consultancy.

Sutherland said the RFP is like many other GSA efforts that tip the evaluation scale toward larger competitors at the expense of smaller ones.

While the GSA tried to incorporate smaller company needs in the contracts proposal, Sutherland said the agency ultimately wound up making it harder for them to compete. The OASIS RFP was issued in two documents -- one tailored for small businesses and the other unrestricted. The Voice of Small Business protest was against how small businesses were handled in the unrestricted contract.

All in all, Sutherland said, he'd rather rely on the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) rather than trying to shoehorn small business set-asides into contracts such as OASIS. The FAR, he said, provides better checks and balances for small businesses than specialized contracts like OASIS.

Sutherland said he is meeting with GSA later in the week of Aug. 12 to discuss the issue.

GSA made the evaluation criteria precise for a reason, Sutherland said. "It wanted companies capable of performing on task orders. It takes rigorous to a whole new level" that some companies might not be comfortable with, he said.

USFalcon, of Morrisville, N.C., filed the other protest. USFalcon protested through the Government Accountability Office while the Voice of Small Business went straight to GSA.

GSA released the final RFPs on July 31 for what it envisions as a one-stop management and consulting, professional engineering, logistics, and finance services contracting vehicle. Proposals from vendors are due Sept. 17.

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