Amendment of solicitation

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RFP AHRQ-01-0006

National Quality Measures Clearinghouse


Date of Amendment to Solicitation: June 14, 2001

Issued: May 17, 2001
Issued by: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Division of Contracts Management

2101 East Jefferson Street, Suite 502

Rockville, Maryland 20852

Attention: All Prospective Offerors
The following questions and answers are provided.

Note: The due date for receipt of proposals is extended to JULY 20, 2001, 12 NOON EST

  1. The precurser system – called CONQUEST who originally designed/wrote the system?

CONQUEST 1.0 – intellectual leadership came from R. Heather Palmer, MB, BCh, SM at the Center for Quality of Care Research and Education at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

CONQUEST 1.1 – the software interface was completed by William Taylor, Business Applications Software, Lexington, MA. (Note, CONQUEST 1.1 was a software enhancement moving CONQUEST 1.0 to a run-time application in a Windows environment and small de-bugging effort – its content was the same as CONQUEST 1.0.)
CONQUEST 2.0The MEDSTAT Group, Washington, DC.

  1. Could you possibly tell me who sits on the NGC Advisory Panel? I have searched the web site and can't seem to find any information.

For purposes of responding to the RFP, the Offeror should indicate the number(s) of slot(s) to be set aside for members of the NGC Advisory Panel. The names, affiliation, and contact information of the NGC Panel Members will be given to the Contractor upon award.

  1. Will the bidders get an opportunity to evaluate the CONQUEST library & the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) independently before the bid? Can AHRQ provide some sample measures and documentation in the absence of that? Will the Contractor get an opportunity to study the existing hardware and software before bidding?

Both CONQUEST and the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC) are available via the Internet. CONQUEST can be downloaded at: and the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ may be accessed at Please refer to Section C, Subtask 4.4 of the RFP for the database software for NGC.

  1. What is the present database, hardware and applicable software configuration and deployment? Does AHRQ envisage using the same RDBMS, is there any predilection towards any particular technology.

Please refer to Section C, Task 4.

  1. Recruitment of panel of experts – is it on a retainer-ship basis, consulting fee based on T&M or some other basis? The RFP mentions $200 per day for non Federal experts and does not elaborate.

Please refer to Schedule C, Subtask 1.2: “All non-Federal expert members will be reimbursed at the rate of $200 per day for their participation in the meetings.”

  1. Is it essential to have an SEI-CMM level certificate?

It is not required to have a SEI-CMM level Certificate. However, a very structured approach for software development is required.

  1. Is it okay to use MicroSoft or IBM databases? What about COTS portal software like Sequoia etc.

Please refer to Section C, Task 4

  1. Security & Privacy – are HIPAA requirements to be adhered to?

Please refer to Section C, Subtask 4.9

  1. Non-Federal advisory panel members "will be reimbursed at the rate of $200 per day for their participation in the meetings." Is this fee fixed for the duration of the contract?


  1. With respect to the requirement that meetings be convened when "90 percent of expert members can attend," is it necessary to meet face-to-face or will "teleconferences" be permitted in which some number of members participate via video hook-up?

The majority of members are expected to physically attend the meetings, however, teleconference or videoconference will be acceptable if it is impossible for one or two members to physically attend.

  1. The AHRQ Project Officer appears to provide technical oversight of the implementation of Tasks 4, 5 and 6. What is the role of the advisory panel of experts, if any, in this aspect of the contract?

Please refer to Section C, Task 1.

  1. Regarding the page counts:

  • Are Appendices included in the page limitations of the technical portion of the proposal? Are they subject to the 11-point minimum?

  • Section L.B.3: Are the letters of commitment for detailed subcontracting arrangements, consulting arrangements, and for consultants and members part of the page count?

  • Do the cover page and Table of Contents count toward the page count?

  • If a compliance matrix is supplied, does that count toward the page count?

  • Section C.7.2: Is the detailed work plan considered part of the page count?

Appendices are not included in the page limitation of the technical portion of the proposal and they are not subject to the 11 point minimum. All other portions of the technical proposal are included in the page limitation.

  1. Introduction, Page 7. What are examples (real or hypothetical) of the potential or "other clinical tools," in addition to the NGC, that the umbrella site must accommodate in the future? If there are no examples, what are potential characteristics of these tools?

“Other clinical tools” will be identified at a future date but may include systematic reviews, technology assessments, and/or patient safety best practices. The Offeror is not expected to include the development and maintenance of additional clinical tools in their proposal.

  1. Introduction, Page 7. The NGC is to be migrated to the umbrella database backbone by the end of FY 2003, i.e. roughly 2 years after the EDOC. The contract period of performance (section F.2) is 4 years. Specifically, is the NGC to be maintained by a different entity during years 3 and 4 of the performance period? If so, what is the responsibility of the contractor regarding the NGC, its maintenance, and conflicts that may arise if it is not maintained by another entity in ways consistent with the backbone and the NQMC?

Please refer to Schedule C, Subtask 4.4. and Subtask 7.8.

  1. Section A., page 10. The CONQUEST 2.0 Final Report (March 12, 1998) is not cited in the RFP. Also, the document cited for the Inventory of DHHS measures (footnote 10) does not include the measure-specific details described in the text for this database. How can interested applicants obtain the former document, and how can they obtain the information described in the text but missing in the cited latter document?


This report will be made available by request. Requests for the report may be made by fax or e-mail to Mary Haines, see information in L.6 above. The report will be mailed, Offerors may provide federal express account information for expedited delivery. The report may also be viewed (no photocopying) on site in a Reading Room, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. Contact Jessica Alderton at 301-594-7187 for an appointment.”

  1. Section B.4.a, page 5. This section appears to dictate what contractors should and not consider direct costs to the contract. We have had an indirect cost rate for many years, and have been through multiple audits with the Defense Contract Audit Agency. As a result, we have a well-established practice that we use consistently to determine direct and indirect costs. Shouldn't we follow our accepted practice?

Business proposals should be prepared based on negotiated indirect cost rate agreements for contracts with the federal government. If such an agreement conflicts with Section B.4 Provisions Applicable to Direct Cost, this should be highlighted in the proposal. If an offeror does not have such an agreement and is selected for award, negotiation of such an agreement (within a specific time after contract award) will be made part of the resultant contract.

  1. Section B.4.a (11), page 6: ADP hardware and software, is particularly a problem. It would seem that items that are purchased specifically for this contract would be a direct cost to the contract. Again, our indirect cost rate agreement is based on an established practice of charging hardware and software, when appropriate, as a direct cost. Please comment.

In general when ADP hardware and software is purchased directly for use under the contract it can be charged as a direct cost to the contract. This provision is necessary to ensure that such purchases adhere to agency guidelines for these purchases, and so that proper accounting can be made of this type of equipment.

  1. Section C.1.2., page 13. Can Expert Panel members be compensated for quarterly conference calls, or does the $200 per day participation fee apply only to face-to-face meetings?

Please refer to Schedule C, Subtask 1.2: “All non-Federal expert members will be reimbursed at the rate of $200 per day for their participation in the meetings.” If a virtual meeting is convened, a panel member may be reimbursed for their participation.

  1. Section C.1.2, page 13. The RFP is very explicit that meeting days must be set on dates in which 90 percent of expert members (i.e., 15 of the 17) can attend. Is documented intent/availability ahead of time sufficient? If no reasonable date during the year can be found where this condition holds, what substitutes or experts or other alternatives are acceptable?

Last minute cancellations or emergencies will not require rescheduling of a meeting unless the majority of members are no longer able to attend (natural disaster, weather cancellation, etc.). The majority of members are expected to physically attend the meetings, however, teleconference or videoconference will be acceptable if it is impossible for one or two members to physically attend.

  1. Section C.2, page 15: The RFP specifies that the PO will "organize" a direct mailing, but it also specifies that the Contractor will maintain the mailing database and conduct the mailing itself. What specific tasks and responsibilities related to the mailing, other than providing the Federal Register notice and the AHRQ letter to the Contractor, will the PO undertake?

The Project Officer may initiate a mailing or mailings directly from AHRQ and/or supply additional mailing addresses to the Contractor over the life of the contract.

  1. Section 2.1, page 15. How many mass mailings are anticipated per year?

For purposes of responding to the RFP, one mailing in year one and two mailings in each subsequent year of the contract.

  1. Section C.2.2, page 15. The RFP states that the measures in the database must be clinical performance measures, defined as appropriate, safe, competent, timely, and achieving desired outcomes. Access is generally considered a separate (though related) concept from clinical quality performance, as this definition implies. However, section 2 states that access to care is a required domain. Separately, section 2.2 specifies that not only access but utilization (i.e., a category of structural) measures are among the domains that must qualify. Can AHRQ clarify these apparent inconsistencies, and the extent to which the contractor may propose typologies and inclusion and evaluation criteria that address the separate concepts?

(a) The RFP does not define clinical performance measures as noted in the first sentence of this question. (CONQUEST 2.0 does, however, define clinical performance measures as instruments that estimate the extent to which a health care provider delivers clinical services that are appropriate for each patient’s condition, provides them safely, competently, and in an appropriate time frame, and achieves desired outcomes in terms of those aspects of patient health and patient satisfaction that can be affected by clinical services.) (b) The RFP requires that measures address at (inserted – least) one of the domains listed (processes of care, outcomes of care, utilization of health care resources, access to care, patient/customer satisfaction, or experiences with care). (c) Utilization measures are considered by some to be “proxy” quality/clinical performance outcome measures e.g., re-admissions within a specified period of time for complications of a procedure. Structural measures, on the other hand, are “essentially measures of the presumed capacity of the practitioner or provider to deliver quality health care, not of the care itself.” 1

  1. Section C.2.2, page 15. For consistency in costing, will AHRQ define a percentage of quality measures that will go to a third reviewer, when the first two reviewers have a disagreement?

Ten percent.

  1. Section C.2.2., page 15. The Contractor is to propose inclusion criteria by 4 months, and those criteria will then be reviewed and potentially revised. The Federal Register notice soliciting measure submissions, however, is to be prepared by the PO by 5 months. Thus, it appears that the F.R. notice will not be able to make reference to the inclusion criteria. This could lead to unnecessary submission of many irrelevant measures that would not be submitted if the inclusion criteria were known. Is it possible that the F.R. notice may be delayed until the inclusion criteria are reasonably set? If so, how will this affect future deliverables and deadlines (e.g., for Task 6, p. 31)?

The RFP is amended to change “Within five (5) months after contract award, the Project Officer will prepare a notice to be published in the Federal Register requesting measure developers and organizations supporting measure development to submit measures, in both hard copy and electronic format, if available, and the full name and address of the developer and/or contact person whom NQMC staff can contact.” to “Within one (1) month after finalizing the inclusion criteria, the Project Officer will prepare a notice to be published in the Federal Register requesting measure developers and organizations supporting measure development to submit measures, in both hard copy and electronic format, if available, and the full name and address of the developer and/or contact person whom NQMC staff can contact.”

Change is in italics. This change will not affect deliverables or deadlines.

  1. Section C.1.4, page 18. Some proprietary measures may be submitted for which the measure developer asserts or summarizes evidence that the inclusion criteria has been met, but for which the submission does not include sufficient data for this to be independently determined. Is it AHRQ's intent that such measures would be excluded, or that they would be included but the required attribute field would reflect the caveat of insufficient information for independent evaluation?

Please refer to Section C, Subtask 3.1.4.

  1. Section 4.4, page 20. Which version of the Oracle Database system is to be used; i.e. AHRQ approved?


  1. Section C.4.4, page 20. What platform houses the NGC site?

Microsoft Windows 2000.

  1. Section C.4.3, page 20. What standard software tools are used in AHRQ; i.e., browsers and PC software etc.?

AHRQ user's systems are running operating systems of Windows 95 to Windows 2000, usually with Internet Explorer 5.0 or better (but some use Netscape 4.75 and up). The AHRQ Network Support Team has a number of management and monitoring tools.

  1. Section C.4.4, page 21. Since the contractor shall be responsible for the maintenance of the legacy NGC database and web site, can these design documents and database layouts be made available?

This information will be made available upon contract award.

  1. Section C.4.6, page 23. Was Usage Requirements meant to be labeled C.4.7?


  1. Section C.4.6, page 23. Is Web site downtime inclusive of maintenance activities?


  1. Section C.6.1, page 26. In order to ensure NQMC electronic forum compatability, could you share the features of the other Agency Web site electronic forums that you state are being developed for public and private access? Are these features included within the specifications in the RFP? If not, what are the specific compatibility requirements?

AHRQ uses L-soft (List Serve 1.8d) for electronic forums. NGC uses an un-moderated forum using L-soft (List Serve 1.8d).

  1. Section H.1, page 37. Reads "the contractor shall receive a small base fee." Please define "small."

Generally the base fees are 2 – 3 percent of total estimated cost.

  1. Section H.1, page 38. "Each pool gets 14.25% of the total award fee." Does this mean that each task (1-7) receives 14.25% of the total award fee?

Based on the contractor's performance up to 14.25% of the award fee may be paid in award fee for performance of each of the seven tasks.

  1. Section L.9.B(6), page 85. This section describes the responsibilities of the Project Director and Project Manager. Could they be combined into a single person?


  1. Section L.12.A.2, page 90. What type of "certified documentation" is required to ensure that the Contractor's cost accounting system is acceptable for cost-type contracts? We currently have two cost reimbursement contract, and have been subject to numerous audits by our independent auditors, HCFA staff, and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). Would a copy of our audited financial statements or a copy of our last DCAA audit report suffice? Is similar "certified documentation" required from subcontactors?

The contractor shall self- certify that their cost accounting system is acceptable for cost-type contracts. A project or job cost accounting system would be acceptable. A current copy of the contractor's federal negotiated indirect cost rate agreement is sufficient for the required documentation. Similar documentation should be provided for proposed subcontractor(s) if a cost type arrangement is proposed.

  1. Section L.12.A.3, page 90. Are subcontractors required to have an indirect cost rate agreement? If yes, this may be difficult to obtain by July 6. Would it be acceptable to provide cost detail equivalent to that required for obtaining an indirect cost rate?

If a cost type arrangement is anticipated for proposed subcontractor(s) an indirect cost rate agreement should be provided with the cost proposal. If this is not possible, the contractor should self certify that their cost accounting system is acceptable for cost-type contracts. Further information may be requested during negotiations, if necessary.

  1. Section B. What is "ADP hardware or software" ((11) under terms of unallowed direct costs).

Automated Data Processing hardware or software.

  1. Section C. What is the flexibility with respect to the solution – that is, can we propose a solution to meet the objectives, but which impacts the SOW, with adjusted benchmarks and time frames? This is important to us because our solution is unique – it builds certain foundation for the solution that no one else will address.

Your question is unclear. Offerors are advised to respond to the RFP with endpoints and timeframes in mind as described in the RFP.

  1. Once the NQMC is built, who operates it? How are the operating costs covered? NQMC as defined in the RFP is not just a system and database, it is an enterprise. Our understanding is that the contractor is all of: -- developer, facilitator, and operator of the enterprise during the contract. It has people responsible for getting content, evaluating and including, customer support, marketing, technical support, management, etc. However, what happens to these people at the end of the contract? Statement is made that it is to be "supported as a public service" – but not clear by whom. Is it the government's intention to contract it, operate it, or give it a permanent home? This affects the transition strategy.

Please re-read the RFP, with particular attention to Section C, Subsection B. Objectives.

  1. Intellectual Property – we have unique intellectual property; some of it has patent applications in process, other technology is patentable. Would this contract in any way affect our ownership rights as far as that technology is concerned? Does this technology need to be identified up front? What about technology developed during the project?

As indicated in the RFP, the government seeks to procure the creation of a database that will be operational and ongoing even if the original contractor does not win a subsequent contract to maintain and operate the system. Thus, the agency anticipates obtaining, through this procurement, unlimited rights (“Unlimited rights,” as used in this clause, means the right of the Government to use, disclose, reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, in any manner and for any purpose, and to have or permit others to do so.)

in the database and its underlying architecture and software including documentation, for purposes of continuous and seamless operation of the Clearinghouse by the agency or any contractor chosen by the agency and similarly the agency is to be given an irrevocable worldwide paid up license to use, and assign rights to use, for purposes of operating the Clearinghouse, the database and whatever software, whether preexisting or developed under the contract, is incorporated in the design of the database and is essential to its continued operation. It is anticipated that the contract will include portions or adaptations of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provisions such as 52-227.14 and 52-227(d)(2) to accomplish these objectives.
The RFP, in a number of places, (e.g. 4.3. Software Requirements ) suggests the use of “off the shelf” and widely used software because of reasonable maintenance terms, e.g. free patches and modestly priced new versions. Just as the contract would cover the purchase cost of the “off the shelf” software, the government will be willing to pay an upfront fee for comparable or superior intellectual property developed by the offeror that would be essential to the operation of the Quality Measures Clearinghouse. Because the government cannot be certain of its budget authority in the future, nor can it commit to payment of ongoing license fees, the agency is seeking proposals in which license fee payments for everything essential to keep the system running are made solely during the course of this contract. Though not preferred, the agency will consider offers in which future software program updates will be provided for a modest maximum price over a fixed long term. As indicated in the RFP terms with respect to the possibility of changing operating contractors in the future, the procurement will necessarily require transmission to any successor of all documentation necessary to operate and maintain the system.
Thus, while detailed descriptions of a proponent’s intellectual property or trade secrets are not required, some identification and general or functional description of all patentable tools and copyrightable materials that are to be used, or designed and used, will necessarily be part of any proposal along with the terms on which they would be made available, so that the government can compare and evaluate competitive proposals. Commercial or trade secret information should be labeled and will be protected accordingly. (Such information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and under 18 USC §1905 disclosures of such information are prohibited without consent.)

  1. Web site requirements: RFP says "Contractor shall develop 'application interface' to the NQMC to accommodate varied needs of NQMC users." Does "application interface" mean "user interface?"


  1. Section G, Fringe Costs – is this category for things like arranging meetings, recruiting experts, cost accounting?; are they "direct" costs, "indirect", or a separate category?

Fringe Costs refers to fringe benefits. Some contractor's negotiated indirect cost agreement break this rate out separately from the contractor's indirect/overhead costs.

  1. Were the criteria for including measures in the NQMC database applied to the measures included in the current CONQUEST database?

No. The general criteria for including measures in CONQUEST 2.0 were: widespread use, relevance to new clinical evidence, room for clinical quality improvement, relevance to areas of financial/organizational change, impact on patient health, rigor of development, feasibility of implementation, and overall evaluation. Each measure set was judged and rated on these subjective criteria by a panel of technical experts.

  1. Does AHRQ anticipate that measure developers may want to "appeal" a decision to exclude a measure from the database? If so, is there a process for such an "appeal"?

AHRQ anticipates that appeals will be infrequent. Request for appeals will be referred to the Project Officer for disposition.

  1. Has AHRQ encountered limitations on the inclusion of measures in the current CONQUEST database due to copyright considerations?


  1. Will each measure in the current CONQUEST database be reviewed and analyzed to the same extent as a new measure?


  1. Is there a description of the current and planned technical architecture that is used for the National Guidelines Clearinghouse?

The current National Guideline Clearinghouse™ technical architecture is below. The planned technical architecture is not available.

The 4 machines at AHRQ run Windows Server 2000 with Service Pack 2 and Security patches.

Server Name     Production      Hardware Platform 
DBSERVER2       NGC     COMPAQ PROLIANT 5500      
STORAGE SYS U1-DB1      NGC     RAID ARRAY 4000   
STORAGE SYS U1-DB2      NGC     RAID ARRAY 4000   
WWWSERVER and WWWSERVER2 run IIS 5 and Site Server 3.0 latest service patches.
DBSERVER and DBSERVER2 run SQL Server 7.0 with latest service patches.
Mail is handled by ASPMail 3.0.

  1. Is there an accessible description of the database contents and structure of the National Guidelines Clearinghouse?

This will be made available upon contract award.

  1. Are there statistics on the current and projected types and volumes of accesses to the National Guidelines Clearinghouse?

Weekly visits to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC) are currently running 33,000 –34,000 per week. Tuesday receives the most volume with close to 7,000 visits per day. Weekly requests are between 300,000 – 400,000. Weekly hits range from about 400,000 - 700,000. Visits are from all over the world. NGC’s statistics continue to rise on a steady pace.

  1. How many guidelines are currently included in the National Guidelines Clearinghouse? How many are changed, added, or deleted each year? Are there projections of the number of additions, changes, and deletions that are likely to be made in future years.

You may find the current census of guidelines on the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ at This number fluctuates weekly. Approximately 2 – 10 new or updated guidelines are added weekly. Approximately 10 –20 are retired from the site yearly.

  1. Regarding the base fee and award fee, please clarify that the following statement is accurate: Bidders should propose a specific dollar amount in each year of the contract for the base fee and separately for the award fee, and it is up to bidders to determine how much of their proposed total fee should be allocated to the base fee versus the award fee. If our understanding of these contract provisions is incorrect, please explain.

Bidders should propose a specific dollar amount in each year of the contract for the base fee and separately for the award fee. Base fees are usually proposed at 2 – 3% of the total estimated cost. The base fee and award fee are elements of the negotiation.

  1. Does AHRQ anticipate that the server(s) housing the NQMC Web site and data files will be required to reside on-site at AHRQ's offices? If so, please describe the anticipated working relationship between the Contractor's personnel to be located on-site at AHRQ, AHRQ's in-house staff, and AHRQ's IT contractor staff. For example, will the Contractor's personnel be assured of adequate workspace in AHRQ's offices? How many personnel will the Contractor be allowed to locate at AHRQ?

Please refer to Section C, Subtask 4.6 “The Contractor shall provide all hardware necessary to host and connect the Web sites.

The Contractor shall provide for a physical location to house the Web sites and arrange for appropriate onsite visits by the Project Officer and other program representatives. All visits during normal working hours shall be permissible with two hours notice, and within 24 hours notice for all other times.
The Contractor shall provide access to the Internet for the Web sites, and that access shall have sufficient bandwidth to meet the needs delineated in this document.
The Contractor shall provide physical support for Web production, and all application hardware as necessary.”

  1. Does the maximum number of Advisory Panel members (i.e., 17) include the AHRQ Project Officer and the Federal government agency representatives to be recruited by AHRQ (Reference RFP Sec. C.C.1, p. 12)?

The maximum number of panel members does not include the Project Officer but does include other Federal experts.

  1. Under SOW Task 7.2, Prepare and Submit Comprehensive Work Plans, the RFP states, "The transition plan shall include 40 hours for meeting with Agency staff and others, and transitional consulting of approximately 100 hours, if necessary." Are the costs for this work to be included in the proposed budget? The use of the phrase "if necessary" suggests that these costs should be treated as a contingency, or option (i.e., not included in the base budget). What is AHRQ's preference?

Proposed budgets should include costs for transition, as indicated.

  1. Are the 140 hours for transitional meetings and consulting referenced in the preceding question at all related to the requirements outlined at SOW Tasks 7.8 or 7.9 (RFP p. 29)?


  1. Please clarify the nature of and expected level of effort associated with Task 7.8. The description of this task provides insufficient detail for budgeting purposes. If more detail is not available, please provide an estimate of the number of hours per year expected to perform this task, as was done in the description of Task 7.9.

For purposes of responding to the RFP use 100 hours.

  1. RFP Section H.1, Award Fee (p. 37) states that in a Cost-Plus-Award Fee type contract, "The contractor shall receive a small base fee." Please clarify the word "small" by quantifying the Agency's expectation in this regard.

The Agency anticipates a base fee of 2 to 3% of total estimated costs.

  1. We respectfully request that AHRQ consider granting an extension of approximately one month for the proposal due date. Will AHRQ grant such an extension?

A two week extension is granted. Proposals are due July 20, 2001, 12 PM EST.

  1. Section B.2: Does the $8.4 Million procurement estimate include the following?

a. Expenses associated with consultant travel

b. Expenses associated with establishing and maintaing work environment for project team (work space, overhead costs, work materials)

c. Hardware and software acquisition required for application development and maintenance

d. Compensation for Expert Panel members' time, materials, and travel expenses.
The procurement estimate includes all costs associated with performing the Statement of Work.

  1. Section C.1: How will the roles and responsibilities be delineated between the Project Officer (PO) and the Contractor for the following activities?

Recruitment of experts

Conduct of Expert Panel meetings

Please refer Section C, Task 1.

  1. Section C.2: Has additional time been budgeted for use of expert panel, in addition to annual meeting attendance, to provide feedback on "broad project areas"? Is their role expected to be advisory in nature or will consensus and final approval be required of them?

Please refer Section C, Task 1. Consensus and final approval is not required of the panel.

  1. Section C.4:

  1. Does AHRQ have in place standards document delineating technical specifications for development that Contractor must comply with or can Contractor develop these?

No there are none in place and the Contractor may develop them.

Must they be submitted for approval and to whom?
They must be approved by the Project Officer.

  1. Does AHRQ currently have a style guide to build upon or will Contractor be responsible for development of same?

There is no Style Guide and the Contractor will have to develop one for their work on this project.

  1. Will AHRQ provide any technical support, including personnel, in the development process?

The current NGC Contractor will be made available for consultation along with technical documentation of the NGC. The Offerer is expected to provide personnel for the development process.

  1. Does AHRQ have any hardware standards to which Contractor must comply?

There are no hardware standards beyond the fact that the equipment must be capable of meeting the minimum metrics (throughput) and uptime.

  1. Can level of security acceptable to AHRQ (C.4.9) be further defined?

The applicable standards are well documented on the listed Web sites. Potential bidders are encouraged to "capture" the status of those requirements at the time of their submission. If these requirements change after contract award, the Contracting Officer will proceed with a contract modification to reflect the new requirements.

  1. Section C.5.3: Does AHRQ have sample FAQ's currently on file and if so, can bidder view them?

You can view FAQ’s relating to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ at:

  1. Please clarify the dates for planning and converting the National Guidelines Clearinghouse (NGC) database to the new, Oracle database. Is the converstion to occur on 1 October 2002 (Delivery Schedule item 17, RFP Sect. F.3, page 32) or on October 1, 2003, following the planning work (item 16, same page, and RFP Task 4.4, page 20)?

Delivery Schedule item 17 relates to maintanence of the legacy system prior to conversion to the new database system. Item 17 will commence on October 1, 2002. The conversion to the new database system will occur in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2003.

  1. What is the termination date for the current contract with NGC's contractor?

a. If the contract termination date coincides with the conversion date noted above, will the NQMC contractor have responsibility for the (i) content or (ii) terminology of NGC after that date?

b. If the contract termination date is after the conversion date, what responsibilities, if any, will the NGC contractor have to (i) maintain guidelines content or (ii) maintain the NGC Web site?
The current NGC contract expiration date is September 29, 2002. Please refer to Section C, Subtask 4.4. The NQMC contractor will NOT be responsible for the content or terminology of NGC but will be expected to work with the contractor responsible for developing and maintaining the NGC content.

  1. Are subcontractors eligible for performance-based fee awards? If so, how will those awards be allocated between prime and subcontractor, especially for work performed jointly?

The Government does not have privity of contract with subcontractors. The prime contractor's arrangement/ agreement with the subcontractor is a matter of business judgment.

  1. Is it correct that subcontractors, as well as the prime contractor, should request their former clients to complete the Past Performance Questionnaires?

Prime contractor's should request their major subcontractor's provide Past Performance Questionnaires from their former clients.

  1. It will be helpful to have a list of the members of the NGC Advisory Panel as we plan recruitment of the NQMC Advisory Panel; can that list be made available during this proposal period?

For purposes of responding to the RFP, the Offeror should indicate the number(s) of slot(s) to be set aside for members of the NGC Advisory Panel. The names, affiliation, and contact information of the NGC Panel Members will be given to the Contractor upon award.

  1. To plan the Web sites, it will be helpful to have users' evaluations of NGC. Are any relevant studies of NGC customer Web site expectations available at this time?


  1. We are a small business as defined in the solicitation and will submit a proposal as a Prime Contractor. Is it correct that the only portions of the Small Business Subcontracting Plan template (RFP Attachment 3) that apply to our proposal are those that specifically pertain to Small Disadvantaged Businesses, or must we also provide information about other categories of small businesses?

Small businesses are not required to submit a Small Business Subcontracting Plan.

  1. As a small business applying to be a Prime Contractor, does meeting the target for participation of Small Disadvantaged Businesses (5%, RFP page 1 and Attachment 3) also affect our score, or do we merely need to describe out current and past efforts to meet this objective?

The Small Business Goals are provided for other than small businesses. See answer to number 71 above.

  1. We have an historical fixed fee that has been approved for other Federal contracts. Can the Agency provide guidelines for how that fee percentage should be converted to a "base" fee for a contract such as this?

It is anticipated that the base fee will be 2 to 3% of estimated total cost. Fee is negotiated for each contract on a case by case basis. It is not clear what is meant by an historical fee.

1 IOM, Medicare A Strategy for Quality Assurance, Vol. 1, 1990, p.53.

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