By Kevin Switaj

Let’s be honest – most of us were caught by surprise when the RFI for the 10-year $60.7B T4NG2 dropped last month with the Department of Veterans Affairs outlining a highly aggressive timeline for the release of the draft and final solicitation, as well as award.

While preparing an article on what to look for in the draft RFP, this past Friday, the OS AI and BZ Opportunity Management teams received an alert that the draft RFP had been posted (see the Draft RFP here).

Like many of you, we are still digesting the documentation released, but here are some initial thoughts based on the first read, accomplished between swim meets, basketball games, the NFL playoffs, and a holiday weekend.

What teaming arrangements will be allowed and how will they add value?

This should be the focus of growth leaders’ first (and probably subsequent) readings of the draft solicitation. The final set of clarifications for the RFI contained several questions around this topic, all of which the Government replied to with “VA will provide guidance at a later date.” Some key things, then, to keep an eye for are:

  • Will the VA limit the contributions of the large business mentor for any Mentor-Protege JV arrangements? This was a grounds for pre-award protest in the recent CIO-SP4 acquisition, resulting in a corrective action that made significant changes to the instructions. It will be interesting to see how the VA tries to limit how much the large business can contribute to answering the requirements (certifications, systems, corporate experience). In the first draft, there does not appear to be a limit on those contributions, but there may be some scorecard limitations to dedicating too much support to the large business mentors (see below).
  • How should I structure my teaming strategy? Per the draft, Contractor Teaming Agreements (CTAs) will be permitted. FAR subpart 9.601 provides two definitions of a CTA – one is a “partnership or joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor” (9.601[1]) while the other is more in line with traditional prime-sub arrangements (9.601[2]). The draft solicitation (L.10.4, p 135) includes both definitions. However, several questions remain. How much work can come from a team member? While the draft states subcontractors must be small businesses (L.10.6, p 136), it does not provide any information on how many relevant projects can come from these partners.
  • (, JVs no longer need to be certified as SDVOSB as long as each SDVOSB in the JV is certified and EITHER all other partners in the JV are small businesses or it is an SBA-approved mentor-protege arrangement. I do not see any explicit reference to this rule in the instructions.

What will the scorecard scoring look like?

One of the dramatic changes outlined in the RFI notice was the VA’s intent to use “a self-scoring methodology.” Industry has seen scorecards used with varying degrees of success. OASIS and SEC OneIT, for example, went quite smoothly, while Alliant 2 SB and CIO-SP4 had major hiccups and problems. Since the draft includes a copy of the scorecard, we can quickly determine areas of focus and key requirements to be successful. Many on my side of the industry will now begin to develop target scores firms need to reach to be competitive. Although this is an inexact science (some of the early estimates were considerably off on CIO-SP4), it does provide companies with a key data point in their bid-no bid decision. It’s important to study the draft scoresheet included in the draft documentation to see exactly how your team fits.

There are also some interesting inclusions in the scoresheet. There is weighted scoring for experience examples and some sub-functional areas receive extra points. It is important to look at what examples you have that line up to those areas deemed critical by the VA. Second, industry certifications combined have a maximum of 60 total points. That is a significantly lower percentage than we normally see on scorecard bids. Finally, small business participation commitments are added to your score. There are a number of impacts to teaming strategies and mentor-protege JVs from this inclusion.

What proof documentation will be required?

Often, scorecard-based solicitations require documentation to verify the claims of the offeror. These often include some combination of award documentation, FPDS reports, technical requirements, and signed verifications from the contracting officer for corporate experience, and certifications or reports for corporate requirements (certifications, security levels, etc.). The draft solicitation spells out all of these requirements, allowing companies to gather required documentation ahead of time and prepare their contracting officers for potential signature requirements. In addition, look for anything that might be a stumbling block or that the Government may have omitted. For example, the solicitation does not address the SBA rule from 22 July 2022 that allows for small businesses to receive ratings and documentation when serving as a subcontractor. In fact, it is quiet on how to get past performance information for a subcontract. Clarification here will be critical for bidders who decide to use subcontracts as their relevant projects.

What remains unclear?

Finally, the draft solicitation put a lot of meat on the bone of what the Government is looking for and the requirements on industry for a winning response. It will likely answer some, but not all, of the questions, concerns, and sticking points you and your team have. Therefore, use the draft solicitation process to identify those remaining items and submit clear, concise, and specific questions or points of clarification to the Government. The whole purpose of a draft solicitation is to maintain a dialogue between industry and the Government. Take full advantage of the opportunity. Questions and feedback are due to the Government on Friday 20 January, so be sure to take the time needed to dive into the draft documents.

We all anticipate T4NG2 to be a roller coaster and a critical part of the growth strategy for many SDVOSBs. Knowing what to look for at the draft stage can help maximize your efficiency in the bid process and help shape the final solicitation in a way that helps both you and the industry as a whole.

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. Ethan J

    It is a big risk by the VA and the TAC to add scorecard to the process – we have seen how well that has gone for other agencies. As it is written now they would be facing protests.

  2. Ken

    Great stuff…thanks for sharing!

  3. Cynthia Thierry

    Thanks for sharing! I hope that the VA considers the questions they are getting regarding the scoring.