The General Services Administration (GSA) is on the verge of announcing awards for the Polaris small business contract vehicle, which will replace the Alliant 2 Small Business. The Polaris contract will feature pools of winners in various small business categories, and government agencies will use it to acquire IT solutions and services across different performance areas such as cloud, cyber, data management, and information technologies. The solicitation for the Polaris contract was released in early 2021, but pre-award protests at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) led to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordering GSA to amend the solicitation and allow bidders to resubmit proposals.
However, on the eve of the new proposal deadline, two companies filed protests with GAO, alleging that GSA was not allowing them to update their past performance and experience information, and that GSA’s position favored mentor-protégé firms. Despite these claims, GAO rejected these protests and sided with GSA, paving the way for GSA to make hundreds of awards for Polaris. The contract has no ceiling and can also be used to procure software development and IT operations and maintenance.
While GAO’s decision marks a significant victory for GSA, there is still a risk of protests against the final awards. Nonetheless, the Polaris contract is expected to revolutionize small business procurement in the federal government by providing agencies with more flexibility and choice in selecting IT solutions and services from a diverse pool of small businesses.