Contractor involved with FAA outage among 17 companies protesting $50B IT contract

Spatial Front is one of several small businesses bringing a fresh legal challenge over the CIO-SP4 solicitation.
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Newsmakers)

The contractor whose staff were involved in the deletion of key computer files that took down the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notice to Air Missions system causing nationwide grounding of air traffic is among 17 small businesses that have filed new protests over a $50 billion governmentwide IT solicitation.

Spatial Front on Feb. 9 submitted a legal challenge over the Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (CIO-SP4) contract to the Government Accountability Office, along with cFocus Software and ImpactOne JV.

In addition, 14 other entities submitted bid protests to the oversight agency on Feb. 10. 

The other entities that have submitted protests are Dfuse Technologies, ShorePoint, National Capitol Contracting, CANN Softtech, QuantaHub2, White Oak Solutions, ECS Systems, 2050 Technology, SOFITC JV, MASAI Technologies Corp., A1FedImpact, Bixal Solutions, Red Oak Solutions and Saliense Consulting.


The legal challenges are the latest obstacles to delay the procurement, which has been hit with multiple protests since a request for proposals was issued in 2021.

According to a person familiar with the legal filings, the protestors in their latest filings allege they were improperly eliminated from the competition for CIO-SP4 because the agency determined they were not among the most highly rated self-scored proposals.

The person added: “In essence, [the protestors] allege NIH’s cut-off threshold for making the determination that they were not among the most highly rated proposals was irrational.”

The fresh legal challenges are the latest obstacles to delay the procurement, which was hit with a volley of protests late last year. In November, the Government Accountability Office dismissed 117 bid protests relating to the points-based scoring system used to assess prior performance for companies bidding on the contract.

In response to those protests, the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC), which managed the $50 billion contract, agreed to take corrective action and re-adjudicate which offerors would progress to the second phase of the procurement.


NITAAC continues to push ahead with the IT services procurement, despite multiple complaints over the award process, including earlier this year from Precise Consulting.

That protest at the time focused on requirements that NITAAC set out by the contracting office, which stated that all prior experience examples submitted should be from the last three years prior to May 25, 2021.

In a statement last month, the Federal Aviation Authority said it had suspended access for certain staff working for Spatial Front, who were directly involved in the deletion of key computer files that took down the agency’s Notice to Air Missions system.

The 10-year, $50 billion CIO-SP$ contract is the fourth iteration of a primary vehicle for acquiring commoditized IT products and specialized services to meet biomedical research and health care needs.

A Department for Health and Human Services spokesperson referred FedScoop to a NITAAC update from Feb. 2.


Representatives for the protestors were contacted for comment.

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