The General Services Administration (GSA) is on the brink of making awards for the Polaris small business contract vehicle, which will replace the Alliant 2 Small Business. The Polaris contract will feature pools of winners in various small business categories, and agencies will use it to procure IT solutions and services across different performance areas such as cloud, cyber, data management, and information technologies.
The Polaris solicitation was released in early 2021, but there were pre-award protests at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which led to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordering GSA to amend the solicitation and allow bidders to resubmit proposals. On the eve of the new proposal deadline, two companies filed protests with GAO, alleging that GSA was not allowing them to update their past performance and experience information, and that GSA’s position favored mentor-protégé firms. However, GAO rejected these protests and sided with GSA, clearing the way for GSA to make what is expected to be hundreds of awards for Polaris.
Despite GAO’s decision, there is still a risk of protests against the final awards. The contract has no ceiling and can also be used to procure software development and IT operations and maintenance. This makes it a highly sought-after opportunity for small businesses looking to work with government agencies in these areas.
The Polaris contract represents a significant shift in how federal agencies procure IT solutions and services from small businesses. By using pools of winners in various small business categories, agencies can ensure that they are getting a diverse range of options to choose from when selecting vendors for their projects. This approach also helps level the playing field for smaller businesses that may not have had as much access to opportunities like this in the past.
Overall, if successful, the Polaris contract could have a major impact on how federal agencies source IT solutions and services from small businesses moving forward. As such, it is important for both GSA and protestors alike to ensure that all parties involved are following proper procedures and acting in good faith throughout this process.