Included below we share some of our key takeaways from last week’s industry event which featured several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) acquisition and small business leaders discussing key issues firms pursuing work at HHS and CMS will want to consider in the fiscal year 2022, to include an updated award timeline for CMS ACME and DASH; tips for how small businesses can influence set-asides, and how the impending size standard recertification will impact the competitive landscape in FY 2022 for solicitations released on the $25B CMS SPARC IDIQ.

There was a lot of ground covered at the increasingly popular Opportunities Talk, Who’s Listening? event held which featured several HHS Small Business Specialists. Our three key takeaways from the event include:

There is strength in #s for woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses

HHS is working hard to meet its small business goals, but the department continues to struggle to meet outlined goals for two categories across a number of agencies – WOSB and SDVOSB. As such, hitting goals for these categories will be a key focus for the agency’s small business specialists this year.

A few of the key suggestions for those SDVOSB and WOSB companies looking to fill the void included:

  • When you see active market research, don’t just respond yourself – make sure your competition responds as well. If enough members of a small business category band together to show there is real competition, this can help tip the scales when the acquisition strategy is finalized.
  • If you see an item on the forecast in which the acquisition strategy has not been announced, ask the CO and Program Office how and where they plan on conducting market research. Many times this research does not take place on SAM and you cannot influence it if you don’t know where and how it came out.
  • If you know the incumbents are no longer a small business make sure to point out to the agency that, if they award to the incumbent, they run the risk that any award to that company will impact the ability of the agency to achieve their small business goal when that company recertifies.
  • Ask the agency if they would consider changing the solicitation to require a re-cert of size status at the submission of the proposal. No one company can make them do this, but if several prospective bidders request the same thing, it may help sway the agency to take action.
  • Make sure to copy the small business specialist on your correspondence – this ensures they are informed and allows them to help you.

DASH and ACME awards are on the way

The awards on the $500M CMS Data & Analytics Supporting Healthcare (DASH) BPA are expected in early 2022

Sabrina Thompson is the CO for both DASH and the Agile Collaboration and Modernization Endeavors (ACME) BPA requirements. As such, she is expected to complete DASH awards before turning her attention to ACME. This is a lot to handle, so be patient.

As a side note, there was a question posed about the status of the SNOW BPA that Nathaniel Dean is spearheading. No recent updates, but the last word is that CMS was waiting on a technical write-up from the program.

Size standard recertification for $25B CMS SPARC IDIQ and its impact on the competitive landscape in FY 2022

It feels like only yesterday that CMS announced who the Prime awardees were for this key multiple-award IDIQ contract to procure IT System development services, from end to end, but this 10-year contract is reaching the halfway point, which also means that the agency is expected to ask all small business contract holders to recertify.

In plain English, this means that if you no longer qualify as a small business, you must inform the agency and you will no longer be able to compete for future small business set-aside contracts put out on this IDIQ. This includes all flavors of small business (8(a), woman-owned, HUBZone, SDVO, etc)

Why is this important to watch? On the call it was mentioned that the recertification is expected to be finalized in February and 1) affected companies (companies who no longer qualify for specific categories) who respond to solicitations with due dates BEFORE the recert takes effect will maintain their current status for that opportunity, but 2) that same firm will NOT be able to bid as a small business on solicitations with due dates AFTER the recert takes effect. The due date (not solicitation release or award date) is the key date driving eligibility.

The fallout — in addition to decreasing the number of companies who are eligible to bid on small business set-aside contracts for the remaining 5 years of this IDIQ, there are several known potential recompetes in FY 2022 and beyond that were awarded as a small business set-aside to firms who will no longer qualify to bid as a Prime should the agency opt to release the requirement as a small business set-aside on CMS SPARC once again.

Lastly, we should note that, while some firms will lose their size status, it will be interesting to see if CMS allows other current Prime small business awardees to add to their size status on the contract vehicle. Several companies did not qualify for certain categories upon award (e.g. 8(a) or HUBZone) but are known to have received certifications in the past 5 years and now may be given the opportunity to compete using these additional categories moving forward.

Doing your homework? Interested to know which firms qualify for what size status, check out the free OS.ai partner engagement tool by clicking here.

Do you have additional information to share? Did we miss something? If so, contact us here to let us know 

A plug for Shelley McGuire, the host for these valuable HHS and CMS industry events, is to make sure to attend the January 2022 HHS and CMS Networking & Happy Hour event sponsored by Haplet. This is a great way to kick off the new year and get all of the latest updates. Details Here.

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