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Request for Proposal (RFP) No. AHRQ-09-10021
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Division of Contracts Management (DCM) is soliciting proposals for Knowledge Transfer (KT) and Implementation (Select for the Request for Proposals). AHRQ's KT/Implementation program is intended to accelerate the dissemination and implementation of AHRQ's evidence-based products, tools, and research findings into the health care system.
The purpose of this amendment is to:
- Respond to Questions.
- Additional Information Related to Sample Plans and Business Proposal.
1. Respond to Questions
- What mechanism will be used to determine which assignments are awarded to which contractor?
It is not so much a mechanism as specific criteria that the contractor will be evaluated on for each assignment. The contractor with the appropriate technical background, experience, and cost efficiencies will be assigned the task. More specifically, the contractor must be familiar with AHRQ products, portfolios, research, and mission; understand the target audiences that the task assignment is focused on; and have technical expertise in AHRQ portfolios to market products through appropriate modes of dissemination that are associated with knowledge transfer projects, such as learning networks, etc.
- What degree of control does a contractor have over pursuing individual assignments?
The contractor has some degree of control over which assignments will be tasked to them depending on their technical ability and cost proposal. Assignments are distributed by the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) at their discretion.
- Does AHRQ expect that each assignment would include a unique project director (and if so, what proportion of coordination time is envisioned for each assignment)? Or, is AHRQ expecting that a single project director be used to coordinate all assignments (and what proportion of the FTE would be expected to be assigned to the contract as a whole)?
AHRQ believes that it is better to have a single senior project director for all assignments, although this is not a requirement. The amount of oversight needed will vary with the assignment however, it is estimated that each assignment will take 10-20 percent of the project director's time. It is imperative that the project director oversee all deliverables.
- Can an organization submit more than one application for two distinctly different projects?
An organization can submit a proposal as a large business and also submit a proposal as a subcontractor to a small business.
- Is the $500,000 the maximum budget for the full 5-year period or for the first 15-month base period?
The reference to a maximum budget of $500,000 was in error. It is not known at this time what the ultimate dollar value of any resultant will be.
- The current evaluation criteria seem to indicate that the project director is required to have worked directly and extensively with AHRQ (p. 85). Is this solicitation limited to companies proposing project directors with direct AHRQ experience? If not, how will such companies be scored given these evaluation criteria?
The current evaluation criterion does not imply that the project director must have experience working with AHRQ; however, the project director must be familiar with AHRQ as a Government Agency. The project director does not require direct AHRQ contact or work experience.
- Which company or companies are the incumbents doing this or related work?
Companies that have worked on or who are currently working on the KT contract include: Delmarva, Altarum, Academy Health, and Lewin.
- Under Section L.12—Business Proposal, Item (h) Labor-Hour Chart, the RFP indicates that Offerors must submit a consolidated Labor-Hour Chart that displays proposed hours by labor category for the phase-in period and each performance year. Is this boiler-plate language? This is a CPAF IDIQ contract; therefore, there is no basis to prepare/populate a Labor-Hour Chart. Please clarify if this requirement is to be removed, or if a Labor-Hour Chart with general labor categories is to be provided by AHRQ. The only cost proposal information that we can ascertain as required is the cost proposals for the two (2) sample tasks.
A labor-hour chart shall be submitted for the phase-in period and each of the two sample tasks, broken out separately. A chart for the out years is not required.
The Government contemplates award of a Cost Plus Award Fee (CPAF) Performance-Based Service Contract (PBSC).
- Could you give me a little more background on this RFP? What type of organizations are you looking for?
Please read Section C, Statement of Work, in its entirety.
AHRQ is seeking companies that have the capability to assist in implementing health care marketing of products and tools. In addition, companies must have the capability to fulfill the overall goal of the potential contract to conduct KT/Implementation activities so that selected target audiences (see Section C, 1.B. AHRQ Target Audiences) can put AHRQ's products, tools, and research into practice. The contractor shall provide a broad array of support services based on AHRQs needs.
- There is a statement in the RFP cover letter that the technical proposal is limited to 75 single-spaced, single-sided pages. However, in the first paragraph of Section L.10, Technical Proposal Instructions, the following sentences appear:
"The technical proposal described below shall be limited to 75 pages (not including cover page, introduction, table of contents, resumes or bibliographies) with no less than a 11 point pitch, with page numbers, with the majority of the text singled-spaced (list of deliverables, person loading charts, and similar materials need not be double-spaced, so long as they are legible) and with margins that are a minimum of 1 inch."
The text above says that the listed items "need not be double-spaced" which suggests that the rest of the proposal text should be double-spaced. Please clarify.
The technical proposal is limited to 75 single-space, single-sided pages. The text should be singled-spaced.
- Should the entire $500,000 be allocated to the sample KT/Implementation strategies with contract management and oversight built into the costs, or should there be some portion of the total funds allocated/budgeted for management and oversight of the contract with the remainder used to support the two sample strategies?
Go to the answer to question 5. In addition, the sample strategies should include all costs related to those strategies, including all management and oversight.
- Should each of the two sample strategies be budgeted at $500,000 or is that a total for the two, with each budgeted at $250,000?
Each sample should assume a budget of $400,000 that includes all costs for performing that sample.
- Should the same parameters be applied for the cost estimate in years 2-5?
Yes, the same parameters should be applied as in the answer 12.A above.
- In designing the two sample KT/Implementation Strategies, are we to assume a 1-year period of performance that includes both planning and carrying out the strategy, or a 15-month period that assumes a 3-month planning period leading to the implementation of the strategy?
As stated in Section L.10. Technical Proposal Instructions, item A. Recommended Technical Proposal Format, the sample marketing and implementation strategies should cover a 1-year period.
- What is the earliest time that staff will be available to accept hand-delivery of proposals on Monday, June 15, 2009?
AHRQ contract staff will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. Hand carried/delivered proposals are due no later than 12 noon, EST, June 15, 2009. Please allow ample time as proposals cannot be accepted until they have gone through security. We (AHRQ staff) will not be held responsible for any delays that may be incurred getting your proposals through security.
- On page 18, the RFP describes a project assignment process. Can AHRQ clarify the procedures for assigning projects to contractors? We are specifically interested whether the contractors will be asked to provide input to OCKT to assist in OCKT's evaluation of contractors for a project, and whether contractors will be asked to provide input on an overall project budget before it is assigned?
The specific projects that the contractor shall support will be assigned by the COTR based on AHRQ needs and the skill sets of each contractor, including background, experience, familiarity with AHRQ, and marketing and dissemination of health care in general. Contractors will not be asked to assist OCKT's evaluation of other contractors for any projects. Contractors will not be asked to provide input on an overall project budget before it is assigned.
- On pages 20-21, Task 5, the RFP mentions various electronic and in-person meetings but it is not clear how many in-person meetings may be required, where the meetings will be held, how often contractor staff should go, or how many should go. Can AHRQ provide any additional guidance about travel requirements and budgets?
Additional travel requirements will be determined at the time of project assignment.
- Can AHRQ provide more detail on the nature of potential transition tasks mentioned in Task 1?
Please reference Section C, Statement of Work, specifically TASK 1—PERFORM PROJECT PHASE-IN.
- How will the cost of the implementation plans be evaluated? How will cost realism be addressed in the evaluation when the Government will be comparing plans that implement different products and use a wide variety of approaches with different audiences?
Cost implementation plans will be evaluated based on how you responded to the two different samples of the KT/Implementation Strategy Plans that were required under Section L.10, Technical Proposals Instructions, item A. Recommended Technical Proposal Format. Each sample strategy will use $400,000 as a basis for estimating purposes.
- Is there another competition requesting smaller portions coming up for subcontractors as soon as the spearhead has been identified?
- Are consulting firms from outside the United States basically excluded from this competition or is this meant to be an open request worldwide?
This RFP is advertised as a partial set-aside for a small business. Companies outside of the United States are not excluded from this competition.
- The RFP states that the maximum budget for this project is $500,000. Does this include the Cost Plus Award Fee? What is the budget for each of the optional years?
Go to question 5 and answer 5.
- Where and when is the proposal opening?
Due to the nature of this requirement, public opening of proposals is not scheduled.Due to the nature of this requirement, public opening of proposals is not scheduled.
- What is the contract start date?
Awards are expected to take place prior to September 15, 2009.
- What is the anticipated contract award date and how will the respondents be notified?
It is anticipated that award of one or more contracts will be made before the end of this fiscal year. Those respondents who fall within the competitive range will be notified by letter. An Award Notice will be posted in the FBO.
- Are all of the tools in the six (6) portfolios of AHRQ work available to be proposed as KT projects?
Yes, it is most likely that all of the tools in the six portfolios will be proposed as KT projects; however, all are subject to the COTR approval.
- Is it possible to respond to this proposal for Knowledge Transfer (KT/Implementation) and focus on a select portfolio(s) or must the respondent be prepared to support all six?
Your proposal can focus on a select portfolio; however, you must include two sample KT/Implementation Strategy Plans as required on page 68 of the RFP which focus on the Prevention/Care Management Portfolio.
- Please indicate whether AHRQ want an original and three (3) copies (per page 1) or an original and four (4) copies (per page 74) of the PAST PERFORMANCE section of the proposal.
Offeror(s) shall submit and Original and three (3) copies of PAST PERFORMANCE INFORMATION.
- Can tables and graphics use a font smaller than 11 point pitch as long as they are legible?
- Is the "staffing plan" specific to the sample strategy plan, or is the request for a more general staffing plan for potential projects?
The "staffing plan" requested is for a more general staffing plan for potential projects.
- The RFP states that "Key personnel include the Project Director and alternates." Please define the role of "alternates." Also, are "alternates" required to be named in the proposal and resume(s) provided? How many alternates are needed?
Alternates are those individuals who have been given authority to make decisions in the absence of or in lieu of the project director. Alternates are not required to be named in the proposal and resume(s); however, as stated in Section G—Contract Administration Data, under Key Personnel, the clause contains a requirement for review and approval by the Contracting Officer of written requests for a change of key personnel reasonably in advance of diverting any of these individuals from this contract. Receipt of written requests received at least 30 days prior to a proposed change is considered reasonable.
- The Project Team is to include "Task Assignment Project Managers." Please define this role. Also, how many Task Assignment Project Managers are anticipated PER sample strategy?
The task assignment project manager is the daily point person to handle details of the project. As far as how many task assignment project managers are anticipated per sample strategy, your organization decides the quantity.
- AHRQ request that the offeror provide "trained contractor employees who understand AHRQ (reference Section L-10-C-(2) b, Project Team/Page 71 of the RFP). Are specific credentials, courses, years of experience, etc.... required to demonstrate this qualification?
Contractor employees assigned to the proposed contract, in addition to being familiar with AHRQ, should understand the mission, organizational structure, portfolios, publishing guide, project management, Government regulations, etc.
- Is the expectation that the offeror choose 5 contracts that have either been completed recently or in process; or does the offer have to include the last 5 completed projects and ALL of the current contracts in process (potentially hundreds of contracts)?
It is the expectation that the offeror chose 5 contracts that have been completed recently or are in process, and all contracts of a similar nature of this specific requirement.
- Please confirm that the questionnaire may be sent to AHRQ by e-mail as well as fax. The e-mail option is not indicated on the questionnaire form itself. Also, must the questionnaire also be mailed in hard copy, as the mailing address is provided?
As indicated on the form, please provide your response via fax to AHRQ at fax number 301-427-1740, no later than June 15, 2009, 12:00 noon EST. You are not required to mail in a hard copy.
- Is the "plan on the extent of participation of Small Disadvantaged Business concerns in performance of the contract" required or optional as on page 1 of the RFP, it is noted that any single contract would have a maximum value of $500,000? In Section L.13 it appears to be required if it is expected the contract would exceed $500,000.
All offerors, regardless of size, shall submit the following information (an original only is required) SEE SECTION L.13 SMALL DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS PARTICIPATION PLAN (Pages 81-82 of the RFP).
- How many contracts does AHRQ anticipate awarding?
It is anticipated that 2-4 contracts will be awarded from this solicitation.
- On page 11 of the RFP, AHRQ provides a link to a list and description of AHRQ KT/Implementation Projects. Can AHRQ please provide the name of the organization and contract award amount for each of the projects? Additionally, could AHRQ clarify whether this list is the full list of activities that were completed under this contract?
The list and description is of current AHRQ KT/Implementation projects, not contracts. Award information for individual projects is not available. Also, the list provided is the current list for the current contract period of performance.
- Could AHRQ provide a list of organizations that have expressed interest in this RFP?
Attached to this amendment is a list of organizations that have expressed interest in this RFP and have granted permission to AHRQ to add their names to a list to provide to other interested offerors for teaming and subcontracting opportunities.
- Would AHRQ consider extending the due date for the proposal?
At this time, AHRQ is not considering extending the due date for proposals. Proposals are due June 15, 2009.
- On page 20 under Task 4, bullet 3, the RFP states that the contractor shall "engage in appropriate research to ensure that the research findings and tools selected for implementation will meet the needs of the target audience." Could AHRQ elaborate on the types of research that has been used on tasks under the previous contracts and what types of research would be anticipated under this contract?
This is classic market research to determine audience needs. It is a "needs" assessment.
- Can AHRQ elaborate whether and how the awardees under this contract work together or coordinate on a particular project?
To be determined as projects are assigned.
- On page 10, in Section D, the RFP states "These groups shall be targeted as candidates for actual implementation of AHRQ products, tools, and research findings." Can AHRQ elaborate on whether the implementation activities under this contract include evaluation, either of the success of the implementation activities or the tools, and whether the implementation activities will include technical assistance to implementing organizations (e.g., hospitals)?
No evaluation in the formal sense. Success will be judged in implementation of AHRQ products by organizations as evidenced by case studies and other methods. The case studies provided in Attachment 3 of the RFP are illustrative of a successful implementation.
- Does AHRQ have examples of forthcoming task orders or projects that will be released under this contract?
To be determined; not available at this time.
- On page 9 & 10 the RFP lists the target audiences and specific examples under each that are of interest to AHRQ, but can AHRQ elaborate on which target audiences (e.g., public policy decisionmakers) or specific audiences (e.g., IOM) are of particular interest to AHRQ's Portfolios or AHRQ KT in the near future?
All target audiences are of interest.
- Similarly, can AHRQ elaborate on which Portfolios and/or tools, evidence-based products, and research findings are of particular interest to AHRQ KT or the respective AHRQ Portfolios in the near future (e.g., comparative effectiveness reviews)?
Again, all target audiences are of interest.
- Can you clarify the primary focus of AHRQ's KT/Implementation Program?
Please review page 10 of the RFP. As stated, "The overall goal of this contract is to conduct KT/Implementation activities so that selected target audiences put AHRQ's products, tools, and research into practice." We want to see uptake and implementation of AHRQ products.
- Is the focus primarily on dissemination or is it more focused on translation/implementation?
The focus is on implementation. Please focus on areas that your organization believes will respond to the proposal.
- If the focus is on translation, is it a good idea for us to develop demonstrations of translation/implementation in the proposal.
The focus is on implementation, and if your organization believes it can develop demonstrations that are applicable to the proposal, then please do so.
- Please clarify "multiple contracts" will be awarded. Is this referring to Awardees (contractors) or task orders?
We anticipate that 2-4 contracts will be awarded.
- Please clarify whether the references to "H.1" on page 35 of the RFP in the third line of paragraph H.2 (e) and in the second line of paragraph H.3 should, in fact, refer to "H.2" instead.
The references to "H.1" on page 35 of the RFP in the third line of paragraph H.2(e) and in the second line of paragraph H.3 should refer to Section "H.2".
- Would AHRQ be receptive to the proposal of education/knowledge transfer methodologies alternative to "live," "traditional" instructional techniques (e.g., the proposal of online delivery with CME of the AHRQ tools described to in the RFP)?
CME can deliver content for dissemination, but this contract focuses on implementation. We are interested in all methodologies that achieve the goal of this RFP.
- Task 3, "Assignment of Specific Projects by AHRQ to Contractors" states that assignments are solely the responsibility of AHRQ staff. AHRQ will, as stated here, make the assignment, assign a budget and set an initial timeline. Subtasks 3.1 and subsequent tasks suggest that the contractor will then be asked to prepare a budget, assign staff and develop an implementation plan. As stated then, the RFP does not seem to allow for contractors to decline an assignment and seems to have conflicting language about discussions with AHRQ staff about the adequacy of the budget or suggested timeline. Can you clarify?
Discussions will be at the discretion of the COTR.
- The RFP states that only labor and direct costs should be included. Should we assume that ODCs are not to be included, but that labor cost should be fully loaded? Reference RFP L.10, page 68, KT/Implementation Strategy Plans.
Please disregard the reference to cost proposals in Section L.10, page 68. Instructions for cost proposals are listed in L.12 with further clarification provided at the end of these questions.
- Can we build sample strategy plans around AHRQ Prevention Products not listed in Attachment 4 on page 94?
- In Section B.2, it states that the "contractor's performance shall be evaluated on an annual basis, during the period of the contract," however, in Section H.1.C it states the award fee will be evaluated and paid semi-annually. Please clarify the frequency for evaluating contractor's performance and award fee payments.
Award fee will be evaluated annually, and award fee payments made annually.
- On p. 67 (Section L.10) it states that "resumes/CVs are only required for key personnel (i.e., the project director and senior personnel that play a major role in the management and execution of the project activities). Brief biographic sketches of other personnel may be provided." On p. 70 (Staffing Plan), it states that the offeror shall provide a resume for each staff referenced in the person-level organizational chart. Again, on p. 72 it states "the offeror shall submit complete resumes for its proposed staff and detail the qualifications of it staff." Please clarify whether resumes are only required for key personnel or all proposed personnel.
The offeror shall submit complete resumes for its proposed key personnel.
- The 3rd bullet on page 11 and the first bullet under Task 1 on page 13 mention implementation support services. Implementation support services can range from staff available to answer questions via telephone to on-site consultants overseeing the implementation process. What is AHRQ's expectation for contractors' provision of "implementation support services"?
AHRQ is expecting qualified staff who understands the marketing and implementation of the AHRQ products.
- Should the scope of the projects to be detailed in the sample strategy plans be similar in scope to the Sample impact Case Studies provided in the RFP?
No. We are looking for technical approach. The case study in Attachment 3 is illustrative of a successful implementation.
- Are the two sample projects to be budgeted for $500,000 each?
Go to question 12 and answer 12.
- How is success being measured for these Knowledge Transfer initiatives?
The case study in Attachment 3 is illustrative of a successful implementation. Success will be judged in implementation of AHRQ products by organization as evidenced by case studies and other methods.
- What is the relationship between the Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) and the Performance-Based Service Contract (PBSC) portions of the compensation formula?
The relationship is between the Cost Plus Award Fee (CPAF) and the Performance-Based Service Contract (PBSC).
The contractor's products and services will be evaluated in terms of the five performance factors listed in Section H.1.A. Also, review all of Section H.1 Special Contract Requirements, for the full explanation of the compensation formula.
- How has the current economic environment changed the priorities of the AHRQ Knowledge Transfer initiatives? Is there a greater focus on using the AHRQ assets to identify short-term cost savings opportunities?
The current economic environment has not changed the priorities of the AHRQ KT/Implementation initiatives. The focus is the same on using the AHRQ assets to identify short-term cost-saving opportunities.
- What are the methods being used to identify the information needs as well as barriers for disseminating the AHRQ information?
Classic market research is used to identify the informational needs as well as for disseminating AHRQ information.
- Describe the current staffing and organizational structure of AHRQ. How many people are employed by AHRQ?
Please visit AHRQ's Web site to obtain this information.
- Can you provide information on the current frequency that the various information/data sources are being used (e.g., hits to each information asset through Web site)? What is the most frequently used information? Least frequently used?
This information is not available at this time but may become available at a later date.
- What is the current process for determining what new information is added to the library of AHRQ data?
Adding new information to the library of AHRQ is determined by the success of any KT/Implementation.
- We have a number of recommendations for successful knowledge Transfer. Should we include recommended approaches for Knowledge Transfer in our proposal response?
Yes, please include recommended approaches for KT in your proposal for AHRQ to review.
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2. Additional Information Related to Sample Plans and Business Proposal
Each sample plan should assume a ceiling amount of $400,000. This amount should be inclusive of all proposed costs related to the performance of the plan, including administration, oversight, direct costs, indirect costs, base fee, and award fee.
The cost proposal should include the information contained in Section L.12 and be broken out by each sample plan and estimated costs for the phase-in period.
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Current as of May 2009