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GAO Statement on Protest of Systems Plus, Inc., B-419956 et al.

The following statement from Kenneth E. Patton, Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law at GAO, was revised on July 12, 2023 to correct an error in the number of protests sustained, regarding GAO’s decision in Systems Plus, Inc., et al., B‑419956.184 et al., June 29, 2023. 

On Thursday, June 29, 2023, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustained 93 protests filed by 64 offerors [1] whose proposals were eliminated from the competition conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), under request for proposals (RFP) No. 75N98121R00001, which was issued for the award of multiple indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) governmentwide acquisition contracts for information technology services, known as Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners (CIO‑SP4). 

The RFP sought proposals to provide information technology solutions and services in the areas of health, biomedical, scientific, administrative, operational, managerial, and information systems requirements.  The solicitation advised that the agency will award approximately 305 to 510 IDIQ contracts across multiple socioeconomic groups.  The solicitation provided for a 3‑phase evaluation, wherein a proposal must successfully pass each phase to be eligible for award.  Each awarded contract will have a base period of performance of 5 years with one 5‑year option, and a maximum ordering value of $50 billion.

In the challenges filed at GAO, the protesters argued that the agency unreasonably failed to advance their proposals past phase 1 of the evaluation, thereby eliminating them from the competition.  In sustaining the protests, GAO concluded that NIH’s decision not to advance the protesters’ proposals past phase 1 of the competition was flawed because the record provided by the agency and the agency’s responses to the protests do not show that the agency:  (1) reasonably evaluated offerors’ phase 1 proposals, as required by the solicitation, and (2) reasonably determined which proposals would advance to the next stages of the competition.  GAO also concluded that the agency unreasonably evaluated specific aspects of one offeror’s phase 1 proposal, Sky Solutions LLC.  GAO recommended that the agency reevaluate proposals consistent with the decision, and make new determinations of which proposals advance past phase 1 of the competition based on the results of these new evaluations.  GAO denied the remaining arguments raised by the protesters, including untimely challenges to the terms of the solicitation, and challenges to other aspects of the evaluations.

GAO’s decision expresses no view as to the merits of the proposals.  Judgments about which offerors will successfully meet the government’s needs are reserved for the procuring agencies, subject only to statutory and regulatory requirements.  GAO’s bid protest process is handled by GAO’s Office of General Counsel and examines whether procuring agencies have complied with procurement laws and regulations.

The decision was issued under a protective order because the decision may have contained proprietary and source selection sensitive information.  GAO directed counsel for the parties to promptly identify information that could not be publicly released so that GAO could expeditiously prepare and release a public version of the decision.  A public version of the decision is now available, on our website,

This decision addressed protests filed by firms represented by outside counsel who were eligible for admission to a protective order.  A separate decision addressing protests filed by firms that were not represented by counsel was issued on July 10.

For more information, please contact Kenneth E. Patton at 202-512-8205, Edward T. Goldstein at 202-512-4483, or Chuck Young at 202-512-3823.  More information about GAO’s Bid Protest process is also available on the GAO website.

[1] See Appendix A to this statement for a list of the protesters.


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