April 28, 2015 – APMP’s campaign (Consultants Unite) to make Capitol Hill leaders aware of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (RFP) No. VA118-15-R-0558 that prohibits consultants from participating in the task order phase of the RFP took a new turn Monday.
APMP met with Julie Dunn, Senior Counsel, House Committee on Government Operations, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who is the point person on procurement and acquisition related issues and Emily Murphy, Senior Counsel, Committee on Small Business, US House of Representatives. Both said they were surprised when the RFP was released with the restrictive consultant language and were even more surprised that APMP was the first association to approach them on the issue.
When first released, both Ms. Dunn and Ms. Murphy thought the issue would become a rallying cry professional and trade groups throughout the US who represent consultants. “So far, APMP is the first association to have contacted us and we’re really surprised by that,” said Ms. Dunn.
Both agreed with APMP that the VA language threatened consultants and created a “slippery slope” for inclusion of future language. Both thought the intent of the VA was to ensure that its contractors truly knew the complex IT issues and could explain it in the task order. However, both understood APMP’s position that intelligent people responding to the task order and subsequent RFP don’t always make for the best writers or communicators. They agreed that professional consultants in the proposal industry are hired to help the SMEs win new work and are significant contributors to the process and APMP should protect their interests.
Ms. Murphy was emphatic that the VA’s language is a blow to small businesses everywhere that regularly hire consultants for their proposal work. She believes the language could restrict smaller companies from competing, an opinion shared by APMP.
When asked if the exclusion of consultants restricted to a task order rather, than the entire proposal downgraded APMP’s position, Ms. Dunn said that it is neither more or less significant because the task order is part of the proposal pie and should be view with the same importance.
APMP laid out its plan to address the issue further and received advice from Ms. Dunn and Ms. Murphy to schedule more meetings on the Hill, talk to the original contractor that protested the restrictive VA language, meet with like-minded associations to build a coalition and report back to them on the mood of those APMP has talked to. If the information we receive and share is significant, both said the APMP led issue could warrant a future Congressional hearing.
The Next Steps for APMP: Through its Procurement Improvement Committee, APMP will continue to schedule the meetings suggested to protect its consultant members. We will also continue to keep you posted on all subsequent meetings.