The General Services Administration is on the brink 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 will allow agencies to procure IT solutions and services across different performance areas, including 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) delayed the process.
In response to these protests, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordered GSA to amend the solicitation and allow bidders to resubmit their proposals. 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. However, GAO rejected these protests and sided with GSA, clearing the way for GSA to make what is expected to be hundreds of awards for Polaris.
The contract has no ceiling and can also be used to procure software development and IT operations and maintenance. Despite GAO’s decision, there is still a risk of protests against the final awards. Nevertheless, Polaris is poised to become a game-changer in small business procurement by providing agencies with greater flexibility in sourcing IT solutions and services from a diverse pool of qualified vendors.