There are times when an agency in the US Government puts out RFP language that is so perplexing that it begs a reaction. That happened recently when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released (RFP) No. VA118-15-R-0558 on November 19, 2014 for information technology (IT) services.
In its own language, the VA states, “Notably, the RFP expressly prohibits offerors from using consultants to assist them in preparing their sample task responses. Id. at 119. In this regard, the RFP requires an offeror to certify, using a form provided with the RFP, that its sample task responses were prepared only by the offeror and its subcontractors, provided that any such subcontractor has entered into a contractor team arrangement (CTA) with the offeror and is identified in the offeror’s management proposal. Id. The RFP provides that the agency will not consider proposals which do not include the certification or which provide a falsified certification.”
To make a long story short, proposal consultants are not welcome on this RFP and APMP strongly disagrees with this language and its intent. To compound this problem, the GAO denied a protest filed by Advanced Communication Cabling, Inc. (ACC) in Michigan. ACC challenged the VA “no contractor” stipulation and cited it as unfair to a small-to-medium-sized company. They said that it inhibited their ability to compete.
APMP PIC is prepared to tackle this issue head-on for the following reasons:
- This does not promote collaboration between Industry and Government. It also does not promote a better proposal submission – two hallmarks of APMP PIC’s mission.
- Even as member companies are hustling to find “work-arounds,” this directly impacts about 11 percent of APMP’s members who make their living as proposal consultants.
- This action openly discriminates against small-to-medium companies who routinely hire consultants to do proposals. It demonstrates (whether intentionally or not) that Government should only do business with large companies, because large companies can afford full service proposal teams. A significant number of APMP members are small-to-medium sized companies.
- This action will impact Veteran owned consulting businesses, and we are sure the VA had no intention of turning their backs on them.
APMP plans to take this issue on aggressively. We are starting to schedule meetings with Congressional staff on the Hill. We are going to ask a lot of questions and specifically inquire how this decision could impact their future RFPs. We are going to let them know how much this hurts our members. We will also suggest positive alternatives that don’t prohibit one side of the industry from doing business. This ruling is important to our industry and to every consultant working a proposal today and in the future. We know there is a reason for this VA language, but as an industry, we don’t have to like it.
We will keep you posted on this important battle-ground-procurement-issue and urge all consultants to let us know what they think below. Please share with us your comments and concerns so we can take them straight to Capitol Hill.