Uncovering SEWP VI Draft RFP Q&A: Part 2 NAICS

NASA has just answered a LOT of questions regarding the SEWP VI Draft RFP that was released in September 2023. The final RFP is expected to be released by the end of winter 2024 (March 21). Answers to all 1,655 questions have not yet been provided, but NASA has responded to a great deal of questions and their answers provide more clarity on how bidders should respond to Categories A, B, or C.

We don’t see this draft changing much outside of the clarifications provided in these answers. Bidders should be heads-down working to complete these requirements and prepare their responses to this near-term RFP release. Remember, this is NOT a point scoring RFP! If you need help, Red Team is here for you with proposal management, capture management, writing, editing, graphics and desktop publishing.

What follows is our compilation of some of the more compelling questions regarding the use of NAICS Code 541512 and some related questions regarding reserved awards, with a bit of analysis for each answer:

Question 4: For small business joint ventures submitting offers, does 13 CFR 125.2 (e)(4)(ii) apply to this RFP?

Answer: No, 13 CFR 125.2 (e)(4)(ii) does not apply to this RFP. Reserves are not being used for SEWP VI. The Unrestricted groups within Category A and B will not have a reserve of multiple awards for small businesses, since there is already a partial- set aside for small businesses for both of those categories.

💡 Red Team’s Take: This is an interesting question. The CFR statute that has been referenced in the question is this:

If the contracting officer decides to reserve a multiple award contract established through full and open competition, the contracting officer must assign a NAICS code to the solicitation for the Multiple Award Contract and each order issued against the Multiple Award Contract pursuant to § 121.402(c) of this chapter. See § 121.404 for further determination on size status for the Multiple Award Contract and each order issued against that contract.

What is being asked is whether or not the awarded SEWP VI contract will be forced to follow this regulation. The answer indicates that SEWP VI will NOT have reserved awards for small businesses and this statute does not apply to SEWP VI. Awards will be made, but NASA is not limiting the number of overall awards for this contract, nor reserving a portion of a limited number of awards for small businesses. By not creating a ceiling on the number of awards, NASA no longer has a need to “reserve” a certain percentage of awards. This answer is very important to questions regarding NAICS codes due to the fact that the statute requires that a single NAICS must be used for a contract with reserved awards and “each order issued against the MAC.”

Question 45: Is “price” an evaluation factor?

Answer: As stated in the Draft RFP on page 97, in accordance with FAR 15.304 (c)(1)(ii)(A), price will not be evaluated.

💡 Red Team’s Take: This is why price is not a requirement for this contract, but it is for CIO SP4 and GSA GWACS.

FAR 15.304 (c)(1)(ii)(A)

(1) (i) Price or cost to the Government shall be evaluated in every source selection (10 U.S.C. 3206(c)(1)(B) and 41 U.S.C.3306(c)(1)(B)(also see part 36 for architect-engineer contracts), subject to the exception listed in paragraph (c)(1)(ii)(A) of this section for use by DoD, NASA, and the Coast Guard.

(ii) In accordance with 10 U.S.C. 3206(c), for DoD, NASA, and the Coast Guard—

(A) The contracting officer may choose not to include price or cost as an evaluation factor for award when a solicitation—

(1) Has an estimated value above the simplified acquisition threshold;

(2) Will result in multiple-award contracts (see subpart 16.5) that are for the same or similar services; and

(3) States that the Government intends to make an award to each and all qualifying offerors (see 2.101).

NASA, DoD, and Coast Guard are exempt from price evaluations so long as they meet the three criteria above. We now have one of the reasons why there is no limit on the number of awards on SEWP VI.

Question 33: We plan to apply under Category A but typically use NAICS code 541519. Are any other NAICS codes listed on p.57 (like 517121 – Telecommunications Reseller) available to allow a larger pool of small businesses to compete? The current size standard for 541512 rules out many small businesses.

Answer: A contractor can compete for a SEWP VI contract using any of the eligible in-scope NAICS for the category they are competing and are not beholden to using NAICS 541512- Computer Systems Design Services.

💡 Red Team’s Take: This combined with the answers for question 4 and question 45 answers the “NAICS Question.” As we stated in our last presentation and our Question and Answer forum, NASA is allowing for different NAICS to be used at a Task Order Level. Those NAICS codes are found for each category on page 57 of the Draft RFP.

The fact that there is no limit on the number of awards (Q45) and no reserved awards for small businesses allows NASA to avoid the requirement for the Contract Level NAICS to be used for all task orders.

Question 152: How many contracts in each Category does NASA intend to award? Is there a maximum number of awards?

Answer: The government cannot predict how many companies will be SEWP VI awardees. The Government is not working to a maximum number of awards.

💡 Red Team’s Take: Based on other answers already discussed, NASA will not be able to answer this question until awards are made. Given the procurement strategy that NASA is taking with requiring offerors to achieve High Confidence in order to receive an award, we don’t envision thousands of awards like a GSA MAS or STARS III. We also don’t expect a very limited award profile like GSA Alliant. The award profile will likely land somewhere in the middle with a pool of highly qualified offerors that meet’s NASA’s goals.

This is a 4-part blog series. In Part 1, Joe Salgado provides his thoughts on answers related to Relevant Experience. In Part 3, Joe dives into Category A answers. In the final installment, Part 4, Joe provides his analysis on everything else that is compelling in the Q&A.