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The John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Sciences

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Amendment No. 1


The purpose of this amendment is to:

  1. Respond to Questions.
  2. Provide Decision Aid Criteria (Attachment 1).
  3. Provide an Interested Vendor List (Attachment 2).

Responses to Questions

  1. Why couldn't the AHRQ and the Oregon Health and Sciences University [OHSU] reach a new agreement to continue the relationship? Does this RFP represent a real competition—is AHRQ serious about changing providers?

The current contract with OHSU expires 09/25/2008 therefore AHRQ is re-competing this requirement. AHRQ strongly encourages all interested parties with requisite expertise, experience, capacity and exemplary past performance to submit a proposal.

  1. B.2 ESTIMATED COST. Page 4. If XYZ company states the estimated cost to perform the tasks as outlined in the SOW [statement of work] are $100,000.00 how does AHRQ determine what is the small base fee?

It is the offeror's responsibility to propose a base and award fee.

  1. B.2 ESTIMATED COST. Page 4. If XYZ company negotiated $100,000,00 as its final costs—but, depending on evaluation criteria, XYZ may only receive 80% or $80,000 if found only to be exceeding expectation as listed in Attachment 4 Key Performance Standards?

The Performance Standards and the percentages associated with them are used to evaluate the successful offeror every six months as outlined in Section H—AFTER contract award. At this time it is only for the offerors information and will not be used to evaluate the proposals.

  1. L.12 SMALL DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS PARTICIPATION PLAN, page 104. We are a small woman-owned business. We have no plan to use a Small Disadvantaged Business concern. How will this affect our bid chances? Does this mean we have to team with a larger company in order to respond to the RFP?

This procurement is not a set aside for small business; however, if a small business decides to submit a proposal they are not required to provide a subcontracting plan nor are they required to submit the Small Disadvantaged Business Participation Plan.

  1. Management Plan, page 100, #4. Are the task hours only for the initial tasks and NOT for the tasks listed—"If exercised 1—3 years."

Yes, the task hours are only for the initial tasks. The contractor will have an opportunity to revise the task hours in the option years based on experience gained during the first two years of the contract.

  1. The language in the application suggests that there will be a transition between the current Decision Science Center and the new Center (subtask 1.3). Does this imply that the current center will be phased out?


  1. Can the Decision Science Center be based at an institution that has a CERT [Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics]?


  1. Can the Principal Investigator (PI) of a CERT be the contractor PI for the Decision Science Center?

Yes, CERT and other AHRQ-funded investigators are eligible to serve as the PI for the proposed RFP. All offerors should however note the time and effort implications for investigators serving on multiple projects as PIs and adequately document and justify their level of commitment in accordance to the requirements of the tasks.

  1. The level of funding is not specified. Will there be any additional information with respect to the funds to be set aside for this initiative? 

The Government estimates the cost of this procurement at approximately $6,800,000 inclusive of all fees for the 2-year base period.

  1. For a proposal involving 2 or more institutions can there be a joint proposal with co-contractors or co-PIs?

No there must be one prime contractor with proposed subcontracts. There may be Co-PIs, however, the PIs must be employees of the Prime and not a subcontractor.

  1. Is there any public information available regarding the previous contract (e.g., proposal, funding)?

Offerors may obtain additional information by requesting a copy of the current contract by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to AHRQ.

  1. Under Task 1.5, how long does AHRQ anticipate Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval taking? Will this approval be required for each testing or focus group contemplated or can the OMB approval process cover blanket approval for all testing and focus group activities?

The OMB approval timeline is variable and not controlled by AHRQ. The offeror shall submit an OMB package that will hopefully confer blanket approval for the process. However, the protocol for each project/topic must be submitted to OMB for individual approval. This phase of the approval process isn't as involved as the initial phase wherein blanket approval is requested.

  1. For Task 5 (p. 18 of the RFP), what assumptions should be made for budgeting purposes (e.g., number of focus groups and interviews)?

AHRQ does not have a fixed number of needs assessment activities in mind. The offeror is expected to plan for an appropriate number of activities, be they focus groups, interviews, literature reviews, etc., that will yield an accurate assessment of the various audiences and issues noted in the RFP to inform product development and dissemination activities for the Effective Health Care Program.

  1. For Task 5 (p.19 of the RFP), how often should we assume that an assessment will need to be done for budgeting purposes?

Assuming the initial needs assessment is thorough, we would expect that only an annual update would only be needed for the second year of the contract and the and option years. The annual update should consist of an integration of information gained while implementing other project tasks (e.g., focus groups, interviews, white paper meetings, etc). The update should also be informed by targeted literature scans.

  1. Subtask 6.4, page 20. Should all materials be translated for non-English speaking consumers or is there some sort of choice made depending on the populations (since Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) patients are more likely to be non-English speaking than Medicare)?

AHRQ will assume responsibility for translating the text of the consumer products into Spanish. The contractor will be expected to format the translated text so that it closely resembles the English version of the product.

  1. Task 7. Can AHRQ supply the existing criteria for developing information products as referenced in Subtask 7.1?

Task 7 represents a new activity and requirement under this RFP. The offeror is expected to develop and critically assess the proposed criteria stipulated in the RFP.

  1. Task 8. Should we assume that the production of Comparative Evidence Reviews (CERs) and Research Reports will be even throughout the contract period in forecasting workload requirements for production of the 20-25 information products?

No, the production of the CERs and Research Reports is variable. AHRQ accepts topic nominations from the public and other entities on a rolling basis for the CERs and the reviews begin upon acceptance of the topic. The Research Reports are also assigned throughout the year.

  1. Task 8. Will a schedule for production of draft and final CER/Research reports be provided to us in advance of each contract year?

Given the nature of our work, AHRQ is unable to provide a projected production schedule. We will however notify the contractor when projects are approved and share the proposed draft and final dates for the delivery of CER/Research reports.

  1. For Task 9 (p. 23 of the RFP), is the current glossary available for review?

No, but we expect to release the glossary in July 2008.

  1. For Task 9 (p. 23 of the RFP), should we assume one glossary for the general public or two to three distinct glossaries (one for each audience: consumers, clinicians and policymakers).

Yes, only one glossary will be developed.

  1. Task 9. Does AHRQ have any historical data to guide how many terms and phrases would be reviewed annually for conversion and inclusion in the Health Care Glossary?


  1. For Task 10 (p. 24 of the RFP), current language for task 10.1.2 includes development of a protocol for developing a users guide. Is it assumed that the work for developing and testing the users guide is part of this subtask or is it part of another task?

No, the only assumption is that the development and testing will occur. If the activities can effectively be combined with other similar task and yields a quality product AHRQ would not have any objections.

  1. Task 10. In the timeline for deliverables for task 10 on page 56, the final copy of the guide is due on 5/11/09, but the draft guide is due on 5/19. Can you resolve the discrepancy?

The timeline depicted in the RFP is incorrect. The date for submission of the draft guide to AHRQ (10.2) should be 4/17/09.

  1. For Subtask 10.1.1 (p. 24 of the RFP), when you request that we "survey" relevant consumer organizations, how many organizations should we assume be included in the survey? Please elaborate on the type of survey to be done: an environmental scan, questionnaire, or some combination of the two?

No assumptions have been made about the number of organizations that should be included in the survey. We expect the contractor will have sufficient experience and knowledge that will inform the selection of the type(s) of survey and the number of participating organizations. Also, AHRQ does not want to be overly prescriptive and therefore stifle creative approaches.

  1. Task 11. Will AHRQ assume responsibility for developing and implementing a dissemination plan for other federal agencies? 

No, AHRQ will however provide input and make appropriate resources within the Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer available to the contractor.

  1. Task 12. The RFA recommends 1 White Paper Series per year. Our understanding, for budgeting purposes, is that this would include 1 meeting per year. Is this a correct assumption?


  1. Task 13, page 28. The RFP states that the Center will hold 2 symposia. Is the assumption that the contractor will hold 2 symposia in the first two years of the contract, with one each option year, i.e. one symposium per year of the contract? 

The Center will hold 2 symposia each year; one will target a consumer audience and the other will target a clinician and/or policy maker audience.

  1. Task 15. Can AHRQ supply the existing criteria for choosing topics for development of decision aids as referenced in Subtask 15.2?

Yes, please go to Attachment 1 below. 

  1. Task 16. Subtasks 16.1 mentions Web access for "MMA activities" and 16.2 Web access for "EHC activities". Do both of these subtasks refer to a single Web site, the site, or are they referring to two different Web sites?

There is only one Web site for the Effective Health Care Program,

  1. Subtask 16.2. The SOW states the EHC Web site will be made available to invited participants. Is this intended to indicate access and activities separate from the current publicly accessible nature of the site? If so, please explain the activities invited participants will be asked to perform at the site. Are these activities performed currently on the site?

No, the Web site is accessible to the public.

  1. RFP p. 100. Please elaborate the meaning of "service delivery" in #4. 

We intend "service delivery" to mean the activities you conduct in order to meet the needs of the target audience

  1. On p. 102, the RFP specifies that past performance information should be submitted for "both the offeror and proposed major subcontractors." What does AHRQ consider to be a "major subcontractor?"

A major subcontractor is one that would play a large role in the performance of the contract.

  1. On p. 102, the RFP specifies that offerors submit "a list of the last five contracts completed... during the past three years and all contracts and subcontracts currently in process."  Is AHRQ's expectation that will supply 5 per organization for the offeror and each major subcontractor, or 5 total across the offeror and all major subcontractors.

The offeror should provide 5 per organization and 5 for each major subcontractor.

  1. On p. 102, the RFP states that we must "Reference contracts and subcontracts completed during the past three years and include recently completed and ongoing work directly related to the requirements of this acquisition." Does this clause mean that we provide a list of all relevant current contracts as opposed to a listing of all contracts?

An offeror should provide this information for relevant current and expired (completed) contracts.

  1. What does AHRQ consider to be a "completed" contract? Would this include no-cost extensions?

A completed contract is one that is expired.

  1. Will this contract include an Earned Value Management System (EVMS) component? If so, please detail the EVMS reporting requirements.


  1. Does the distribution of effort statement on page 12 mean that a maximum of 15% of the Budget may be devoted to research?

The 15% does not refer to the budget per se, it refers to personnel and allocated time. AHRQ wants to ensure the Center devotes a sufficient amount of time and staff to activities deemed essential to the success of the EHC Program.

  1. Task 8: After the contract is awarded, will Task 8 be negotiated and priced as a single task for all 20-25 topics for the year or will there be a separate task for each set of decision support tools (3) that go with each topic?

No, Task 8 will not be negotiated and the offeror should plan for 20-25 topics. Should the number of topics vary the budget can be modified in out years or sooner as necessary.

  1. What is the definition of a policy maker audience for a decision support tool? Is it people making payment decisions? Does it include legislators? Who else?

We use the term policy maker in its broadest sense to include those groups that make decisions which impact health care. Policy makers include those who make formulary decisions, payment decisions, coverage decisions and large employer groups. 

  1. Are there expectations for languages other than English for decision aids and information tools? If so, which languages, and for how many information products?

AHRQ will assume responsibility for translating the text of the consumer products into Spanish. The contractor will be expected to format the translated text so that it closely resembles the English version of the product.

  1. Task 13: The RFP calls for the Center to host two symposiums to increase the visibility and use of products developed by the EHC Program. Does the government wish the contractor to provide the meeting location and logistics (e.g. meeting room, beverages, audio-visual) or will AHRQ provide them?

The contractor is expected to provide the meeting location and logistics.

  1. The RFP specifies font size, but not type face. Does the Agency have a preference? Does the Agency have a preference for how the proposal is bound?

Please use either Times New Roman or Arial. No preference on how the proposal is bound.

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Attachment 1—Decision Aid Criteria

Criteria Rating
(Please underline)

Complex (Need for Trade-offs): The decision has many options to consider—invoking the need for trade-offs.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Life-Impacting: The result of the decision will likely affect mortality or have a significant effect on quality of life. The decision may not be reversible (e.g., surgery) may require a series of decisions for managing a chronic condition.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Value-Driven: Values or preferences of the user influence the decision.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Strength of Evidence: Evidence is acceptable (FAIR to GOOD quality). What if the evidence is POOR?

Essential Desirable Not Important


Important to the User: User is actively seeking this information. Alternatively, the provider feels a need to persuade the user with the information.

Essential Desirable Not Important


High Prevalence: A large number of people are faced with this decision and will use the decision aid.

Essential Desirable Not Important


High Financial Burden: Cost is high for patient and/or society.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Need for Customization: Customization (e.g., of risk) would aid the user in making a decision.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Need for Coaching: Chronic decision aids have ongoing needs for coaching & feedback, and to educate on the process. Surgical may have different need for coaching (reassurance to avoid regret).

Essential Desirable Not Important


Potential to impact practice: a decision aid may shift practice.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Likely to be unconventional decision making. Topic where patients are more likely to choose treatments differently that expected.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Topics with special interests: medical conditions with active advocacy by patients and providers, e.g., breast cancer.

Essential Desirable Not Important


Appealing business model: decision aid that has appeal to partnering business, professional organizations.

Essential Desirable Not Important


New Criteria?

Essential Desirable Not Important


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Attachment 2—Interested Vendor List

American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson St, NW #2245
Washington, DC 20007
POC: Dede Naylor, Principal Contract Specialist

American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists
7272 Wisconsin Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
POC: Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, Vice President, Office of Professional Development

Baylor College of Medicine
3701 Kirby Dr., Suite 600
Houston, TX 77098
POC: Robert J. Volk, Vice Chair for Research, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine

Buccaneer Computer Systems and Service, Inc.
6799 Kennedy Road, Suite J
Warrenton, VA 20187

Computer Sciences Corporation
15245 Shady Grove Road
Rockville, MD 20850
POC: Robert Stone, Senior Principal Contract Administrator

Iowa Foundation for Medical Care
6000 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, IA 50266-7771
POC: Jeff Chungath, Group Vice President for Information Management

Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI)
2436 Woodlake Circle, Suite 300
Okemos, MI 48823
POC: Tracy Litzinger, CEO

Oregon Health & Science University
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239
POC: Jesse Null, Manager, Grants and Contracts

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Current as of June 2008

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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