We, at Red Team Consulting, get more questions about the recent spate of point-scoring bids than any other topic. We’ve done some digging and thought through our experience helping companies submit point-scored bids to determine whether point-scoring bids do what the Government wants them to do.
This is the first of a two-part blog series on point-scoring bids. In this installment, we’ll go over how point-scoring is used, discuss the issues they have faced and provide a run-down of current and upcoming point-scoring bids. In part two, we’ll get a bit more tactical by going over the components of typical point-scoring systems and strategies for improving your score and building a team to maximize your points.
Our current thinking around point-scoring bids is largely informed by the three most prominent bids in the past two years: NIH CIO-SP4, GSA Polaris, and GSA OASIS-Plus. These contracts represent over $300B in ceiling value, and over $74B has been spent across the current versions of these vehicles in the past 10 years. In our review of those three opportunities and others over the past ten years, we looked at the challenges the Government was trying to address, the commonalities among the opportunities, what was needed to maximize scoring, and how the Government views teaming and joint ventures.
GSA leapt with both feet into point-scoring procurements with OASIS in 2011. GSA believed that using binary, non-subjective evaluation criteria would streamline their proposal evaluation process and limit protests. Awards would be made to the top percentile of point-scored submissions. The OASIS RFP focused primarily on Corporate Experience and Certifications.
Since GSA OASIS was awarded in 2014, GSA has transitioned all their GWACs to point- and/or credit-based evaluation models. This includes the on-ramp for OASIS (SB and Full and Open), GSA ASTRO, and Alliant 2 Full and Open. Alliant 2 Small Business was competed as a point-scored procurement but was eventually cancelled due to protest. In 2021, NIH competed their extremely popular CIO-SP4 vehicle as a point-based evaluation.
Speaking of protests, both pre- and post-award protests are common in this type of competition, to wit:
- 16 Protests combined on GSA OASIS Unrestricted and Small Business
- 16 Protests on GSA Alliant 2 Unrestricted
- 11 Protests on Alliant 2 Small Business
- 20 Pre-Award Protests on CIO-SP4
- 1 Pre-Award Protest on GSA Polaris
Since protests elongate the time between RFP release and contract award, they require thorough record keeping. As a bidder, you must be prepared to respond to clarifications, months and even years, after submission. Nonetheless, the ceiling value, potential contract value, and number of awards makes protesting an enticing strategy.
We are hopeful that the ongoing volume of protests on point-scoring bids is helping the Government improve their solicitations. A protest on GSA Alliant 2 Small Business was sustained, resulting in the eventual cancellation of the procurement and 81 awards being rescinded. The protest was related to cost accounting evidence compliance and pricing methodology. In more recent point-scoring bids, GSA drastically reduced cost accounting point values and removed pricing as a scored element.
Recently GSA released the Polaris RFP, which was paused due to a pre-award protest related to the use of Joint Ventures and then recently re-started. Polaris is the replacement for Alliant 2 Small Business. Also, GSA has released preliminary information on OASIS+ (initially called, “Services MAC”), which is the follow-on to OASIS. Both procurements use point-based or credit-based evaluations.
GSA OASIS+ could represent the future of this type of contract vehicle. GSA is going out of its way to not call this a point-based solicitation. Rather, GSA refers to OASIS+ as a credit-based solicitation. The procurement has the following attributes:
- No limit on awardees
- Open, ongoing enrollment
- A minimum threshold of credits to be provided in the final RFP
- Revised teaming elements that employ limits on the use of experience
- Open teaming enrollment through the life of the contract
Open enrollment and minimum thresholds should increase the number of awards and theoretically decrease the number of protests. The new teaming rules, combined with the ability to submit when an organization is qualified, could also reduce the number of Mentor Protégé Joint Ventures and subcontracting.
Stay Tuned for Part 2
In this installment, we’ve gone through the history and nature of point-scoring bids to date. In the next iteration, we’ll discuss some strategies for success with point-scoring bids and provide our assessment of the success – or failure – of this type of bid.