Tag Archives: Beta SAM

GSA “Lessons Learned” In Rocky FedBizOpps to SAM Conversion

Image: GSA
Image: cygnetise.com


“The General Services Administration learned some important lessons about modernizing critical back office contracting systems during the rough transition of contracting opportunity data from FedBizOpps to Beta SAM.

“We learned we needed to help the community come along with us,” in moving legacy contracting and grant management systems to GSA’s beta.SAM.gov system” – Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Systems Management Federal Acquisition Service.”


“There were frustrations that kept me up at night” after FBO was moved, said Vicky Niblett, deputy assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of the Integrated Award Environment during the webinar. “What comforted me was that all the contracting data had migrated perfectly,” meaning what users were searching for, was there. Users had to become more familiar with the system and GSA could use their feedback to tweak the capabilities, according to Zawatsky and Niblett.

The agency responded to user demands for a return of email notifications of contract opportunities, pushing the release of the capability to the head of the agile development line, said Niblett. “Users said loudly that was extremely important. We prioritized and pushed it out sooner than planned.”

“The challenge with some legacy sites is that they had their own interfaces. Users loved them or hated them, but they knew how to use them,” said Zawatsky. GSA, she said, is listening closely with a myriad of focus groups that look at specific user and contractor “personas” that consider capabilities and needs from differing perspectives. Zawatsky also said users had become more familiar with beta.SAM’s two factor authentication requirements, as those require requirements become more common.

Beta.SAM.gov is growing, she said. It has 173,000 registered users and about 1 million average daily direct views.

Since transitioning FedBizOpps, the moving additional systems has become more considered and studied, according to Zawatsky and Niblett. The agency’s shift of the Federal Procurement Data System began a with a “soft launch” for in March that allows contractors to use beta.SAM to get FPDS Contract Data Reports, but keeps search and data on the old FPDS until the full transition is made. The limited move, said Niblett, “allows users to familiarize themselves with the new reporting tool. There is a large learning curve” between some of the functionality of the old FPDS system to beta.SAM’s, she said.

GSA plans to complete its move SAM.gov in a year, while it plans to complete moving FPDS by year’s end, said Niblett.

GSA continues to seek out user input for the process, Zawatsky and Niblett said, through direct contact and through the GSA Interact portal.”


Contractors Report Issues With GSA “SAM” Opportunities Portal

Image: SAM Web site


Companies large and small are still not happy with the General Services Administration’s new federal contract opportunities portal, according to the Professional Services Council.


“At the request of its technology and services company members, PSC registered irritation with the balky system in a Feb. 7 letter to Julie Dunne, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Alan Chvotkin, PSC’s executive vice president and general counsel, told Dunne that some initial start-up pains for the system still nag users.

“Regrettably, initial ‘bumps in the road’ have continued beyond the functionality that GSA announced would not be carried over from the old system, and our members asked that we bring their views to your attention,” said Chvotkin in the letter.

The FedBizOpps contract notification and tracking website was moved to beta.SAM.gov late last year. From the beginning, contractors complained the new site frustrating to search and ineffective. GSA is consolidating several of its legacy awards systems into SAM.

PSC has heard from vendors large and small who said they are having continued trouble with accessing and searching the site, as well difficulties in how search results are displayed, which can have different font sizes and no copy or print functions. The vendors also said email alerts and updates from the site have been uneven. Those problems have been issues since the cutover the new beta.SAM system last November.

“GSA appreciates that the Professional Services Council shared the views of some members regarding the migration of FBO.gov to beta.SAM.gov, as we take the feedback of all users seriously,” a GSA spokesperson told FCW in an email on Feb. 12. “The agency’s Integrated Award Environment team welcomes the opportunity to work with the Council as it conducts a careful review of the input shared with GSA in early February.”

Chvotkin has been talking to GSA about the portal since development began. He told FCW in an interview that some of the issues nagging the system were anticipated by GSA, and the agency has been working to smooth them out. Still, he said, PSC members have been lodging detailed complaints with his organization about the system.

The level of detail in the complaints was surprising, he said. Suggestions from users — including adding saved-search functions, limiting requests for authentication as well offering NAICs-code search functions —  could be considered by GSA to modify the system.

“They’re still in a transition phase where they can make fixes,” said Chvotkin.

That transition could continue for the foreseeable future, according to Chvotkin. GSA plans to add some reporting functionality to the Federal Procurement Data System, better known as FPDS, in the fall.”


Users Argue Beta Sam GSA Success Story Inaccurate

Image: “Hackernoon”


Beta.Sam.Gov is still a troubled website and a poor substitute for FBO.gov, many contractors continue to tell us.

Many considered FBO.gov to be one of the worst government websites. What doesn’t make sense is replacing it with something worse.”


“Government officials apparently are talking up the success of Beta.Sam.Gov, going as far as to tell other media outlets that early issues with latency and login troubles have been fixed and contractor complaints are evaporating.

The biggest complaints seem to be about the lack of push notifications, trouble saving searches, and the loss of years of curated documents from FBO.gov.

Some users report that they have to recreate everything from scratch. That includes scores of contracts, customers, locations and lines of business. Nothing in individual profiles ported over.

There are no redirects from FBO.gov to Beta.Sam.Gov either. See as an example our recent coverage here about the Defense Department’s recompete of its National Cyber Range contract. The link to FBO.gov is dead and does not send you to the opportunity on Beta.Sam.Gov.

The data is still there but users have to go in, recreate the searches if they can, the track down the data all over again. None of the search functions match up with FBO.gov, so you have to learn the structure and logic of search on Beta.Sam. Readers are telling us that structure is difficult and counter-intuitive to use.

“It’s like they reinvented the wheel and its square,” one contractor told me.

GSA has not made anyone available for me to interview but Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner in the Office of Systems Management at the General Services Administration Federal Acquisition Service, was interviewed on the Federal News Network and said GSA expected hiccups and were ready for the glitches.

Zawatsky described all the people GSA had on hand to work on the issues. She says calls to the help desk were low.

She said contractor complaints have settled down and the site is running well after the first week. Her office is now focused on the next system migrations.

So everything is working great, according to Zawatsky. She called Beta.Sam.Go a “good news” story.

In a statement released late this afternoon GSA said that after fixing latency issues during the first 72 hours, the system is “currently operating normally.”

Because Beta.Sam is being managed as an Agile project improvements and new capabilities are continually being added and developed, GSA said. The current contracting team working on Beta.Sam REI Systems, Octo Consulting, IBM, GCIO and Silosmashers.

No word on when features such as the very popular push notification capability will be added.

GSA is encouraging users to use the feedback tool on the Beta.Sam web page as well as follow blogs that will be posted on the Integrated Award Environment. Helpful hints are available there as well.

So maybe Beta.Sam will make incremental improvements but it is premature to say it is a success or working well. Not when you read the complaints I’ve gotten.”



Nick Wakeman

Nick Wakeman is the Editor of Washington Technology