By Kevin Switaj

The highly anticipated industry day for the $60.7B Department of Veterans Affairs’ Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation 2 (T4NG2) contract was held on Thursday, February 2. While it may be Groundhog Day, we are not caught in a time loop like Bill Murray. There are definitely some significant changes. Here are my key takeaways from the day and their potential impact on your activities.

There is No Apology for the Aggressive Timeline. Industry has not been the only ones shocked at the rapid release of the Request for Information, release of the draft solicitation, and the tight window for submission of comments and questions. Even the Professional Services Council released a public statement on the need for more time (more here).

Despite this pressure and the vocal concerns of industry, the TAC is going forward with an incredibly aggressive timeline. In fact, presenter Robert Kately said, “With all due respect, aggressiveness of scheduling is something you have to be prepared for” if you get an award, as task orders can be due in as short as 7 days. Now, one can argue a task order response is significantly different from putting together a highly complex response to a self-scoring proposal, but we will leave it there.

They plan is to plow ahead with the following timelines:

  • Second Draft Release 14 February
  • Comments Due 21 February
  • Final Solicitation Release 28 February
  • Proposals Due 30 March

What You Should Do: At this point, there is unlikely to be much deviation from this schedule. Therefore, you should get ready to have all hands on deck through early April to put together this response. Also, if you are looking for outside support (either by teaming on the vehicle or engaging consultants), do so now! Your window is quickly closing. I also recommend submitting further questions and comments during the second draft period. If there are points you feel are limiting and/or against fair competition, be sure to point them out. It is quicker and less expensive than a pre-award protest.

Points Are In Flux. To me, this was a significant surprise. The point values in the self-scoring spreadsheet are notional in the draft documentation as is the value given for experience examples, certifications, and small business commitments. This may have a dramatic impact on firms and their preparation for responding, including the bid-no bid decision.

What You Should Do: While the points might change, they also may not (or they might change slightly). Therefore, you can look at your scoring potential differently. Instead of focusing on a number, look at the depth and breadth of your coverage. If you have 10 strong experience examples that provide “yes” answers to most, if not all of the rows in the spreadsheet, you likely have a strong chance of remaining competitive. If you do not, then you might need to rethink your strategy.

Draft Documents May Change. Mr. Kately made it clear that the Relevant Experience Project (REP) template is only a draft document. He seemed to be hinting to not send out a copy of the draft template to your clients for signature (if required).

What You Should Do: Given the Government’s aggressive timeline and continued focus on meeting its milestones, industry should not expect lengthy extensions. Therefore, I highly recommend using the draft version of the REP template to develop your response in the pre-final RFP period.

No Protection for “Vanilla” Small Businesses. Many firms submitted questions and comments around the concerns that mentor-protégé joint ventures have an unfair advantage by being able to leverage the mentor’s experience, expertise, performance, and certifications. While saying they hear industry’s concerns, Mr. Kately specifically said the VA sees no legally sufficient basis to limit the activities of these firms.

What You Should Do: If you do not have a mentor protégé, look into other Contracting Teaming Agreements to cover your shortcomings. Through the first draft, there is no limitation on the input from small business subcontractors into a Prime offeror’s scoring. Look at your network and regular small business partners to maximize your effectiveness and scoring potential. While it may be a paperwork nightmare, it will allow you to position your team in a place to win.

Expect Lots of Business. The current T4NG contract has already burned through the vast majority of its $20B+ ceiling. There is less than $900M left, which is the primary driver for this unexpectedly early competition. There have been 556 awards to date, averaging to around 70 per year. As Mr. Kately’s words and the tripling of the ceiling show, the anticipated task order request flow will be the same or higher.

What You Should Do: While this does not need to be done now, I highly recommend you begin putting together a pipeline tracker, proposal templates, and other tools during the pre-award period. You also should begin preparing proposal resource plans, including outsourcing, during the pre-award period as well.

Conclusion. The T4NG2 industry day provided some further clarification around the procurement, but perhaps not in the way that will satisfy most SDVOSBs, especially those without mentor-proteges. Creative planning and execution over the next month can still position you for a competitive bid and, hopefully, an award.

Interested in partnering on this opportunity? Care to share your own thoughts about the information that was shared here? Have a question? Comment below.

About Kevin Switaj

Kevin Switaj, PhD CP.APMP has 15 years of experience in proposal development and leadership. He is currently the President and CEO of BZ Opportunity Management, a consulting firm working with Federal, state, and local contractors with full proposal life cycle support services and training options. An award winning, best selling author, his latest work is Keys to the Castle: Building Empathy and Creativity into Bid Processes. He is also in his third term on the APMP National Capital Area Board of Directors and regularly mentors proposal professionals and new consultants to support their career development.

 

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  1. Adam S

    I loved the question from someone to VA as part of the QnA that was something like “will you give awards to real SDVOSBs, because we all know mentor protege Joint ventures are just fronts for the larges”

  2. Jason T

    I really hope VA does not try and take the same scorecard approach on the upcoming IHT and CEDAR recompetes

  3. Vijay Raghavan

    RC4Vets, a verified Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) strongly believes in providing “Real Care for Veterans using SMART solutions that Matters” by providing technologically superior solutions improving patient care, transactions, maximizing efficiencies, eliminating risks and reducing costs for our clients. Founded with a core principle to apply technically superior, in-depth and innovative solutions and services to provide answers to complex and challenging problems of VA customers. We have significant subcontract experience in VA (VBA, VHA) and confident to add value to any large or small business prime. Please check out our profile.

  4. osdelahunty

    The scoring on this one is wicked complex. It’s like a graduate school chemistry question.