“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.”
“FEBIZOPPS” will transition to SAM.GOV in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2020. You may acquire the details and further scheduling information here: GSA Legacy Systems Merge. We encourage all small businesses to explore this article.
All contractors will be required to set up an account on the newly merged legacy systems. Pre-registration is now available to review the forthcoming system, provide feedback and stay abreast of further announcements here: https://beta.sam.gov“
This posting will provide strategic guidance on FEDBIZOPPS and factors for using it in small business marketing to government agencies and prime contractors.
A PUBLIC DOMAIN ACQUISITIONS BULLETIN BOARD
Established as the public announcement vehicle for all federal procurements over $25K, FEDBIZOPPS is a web-based, “Public Announcement Bulletin Board” to satisfy fairness in government contracting laws mandated by US law. It is a terrific market research tool and an absolute necessity once a solicitation has gone formal to stay abreast of modifications, changes in proposal due dates, questions and answers and other necessary information that contracting officers are required to make public.
WHAT ANNOUNCEMENTS MEAN
FEDBIZOPPS is the mandated posting point for contracting officers in all federal agencies. It is also the required notification point for GSA schedule solicitations, contract award announcements of all types and other information that is required by law for communication to the public in a fair and open manner regarding federal government procurement of supplies and services. The site contains “Sources Sought” and bidders conference notices, government requests for industry comment on draftRFP’s and formally published solicitations with proposal due dates. The currentFEDBIZOPPS “Agency Tab” lists 126 agencies:
A solicitation posted at FEBIZOPPS generally means that a procurement has received funding and the contracting officer has been authorized to start the source selection process.
Often misunderstood, is that much has occurred in the way of marketing activities by companies in advance of notices formally published by the government onFEDBIZOPPS. By the time the formal, solicitation is published it is too late to market for setting a procurement aside for a small business designation if it has not already been established as such. In addition, formal solicitation publication closes the window on self-marketing by HUB Zone and 8(a) firms for set asides to them individually without competition. In short, businesses have been marketing for the requirement long before it became formally announced at FEDBIZOPPS.
Finding a solicitation that is ideal for your company for the first time on FEDBIZOPPS is excellent market research insight into what the agency publishing the requirement is buying. However, a careful bid/no bid analysis should be conducted as to whether it is prudent to go through the expense of a proposal if the opportunity has not been a new business target for your firm earlier in the game. Please see the following article on completing a bid/no bid analysis:
Start by registering at FEDBIZOPPS. Many of the features available to users are not accessible without a registration. Begin some careful searches by key words into agency solicitations that could use your products and services. The FEDBIZOPPS user guide is available as a free download at the “Boxnet” cube of this web site to the immediate left of where you are now reading. Study it before you complete your registration. Be specific in your key word selections on the feature that allows direct emailing to you of announcements by agencies.
The data base is huge and it is best to move from specific key word selections to the more general with experience to avoid being inundated with meaningless solicitations. Some companies establish a separate email address for the FEDBIZOPPS mailings to keep the results out of the mainstream of other business. The mailings are totally automated so there are no marketing factors to consider in setting up such an arrangement.
As you examine the solicitations, see who has indicated an interest in bidding them among your competitors and the primes you are pursuing and then target such projects for participation by your firm either as a prime yourself or as a subcontractor. Pay particular attention to “Sources Sought”, Draft RFP “Request for Industry Comments” and similar announcements that indicate an early requirement taking shape.
For active solicitations that you wish to monitor, check the “Follow” Box onFEDBIZOPPS to receive updates and announcements by email. Once the solicitation reaches the formal RFP stage and a due data for a proposal has been established, if you have decided to bid the job the “Follow” feature is especially critical.
If there is a bidders conference and you intend to bid the job, make plans to attend. When questions are solicited you may ask them but remember that your question and its associated answer will be published by the government so be careful not to educate your competition to your win strategy in the process.
You do not have to indicate you are interested in bidding the job by registering as an “Interested Vendor” in order to bid a solicitation. Some companies prefer not to advertise their bid intentions, seeking to avoid competitors modeling their firm.
A MARKET RESEARCH SOURCE
If you are new to federal government contracting and wish to determine the best market for your supplies and services, observing what a given agency is buying onFEDBIZOPPS is a key factor.
Keep in mind that the decision makers in government contracting are the technical managers and process people behind the scenes in an organization (either government agency or large company). They have the budget authority, program responsibility and accountability. These people pass their decisions on to buyers and contracting officers via signed requisitions. Buyers and contracting officers are really no more than gate keeping staff members, knowledgeable in legalities, terms and conditions and who sign on behalf of the agency or company AFTER an internal review by the executives who have technical and management responsibility.
Thus your real marketing targets are behind the gatekeepers and little is achieved by marketing to a contracting officer or buyer. This rule of thumb applies with prime contractor contracting specialists and administrators as well as government personnel. For further details on the roles of these personnel please see the following link:
Once again, bidding an active solicitation after it has hit FEDBIZOPPS may be too late. The idea is to use them for market research so you can target similar projects earlier in the process. Research the technologies and services in which your targeted agencies and primes are involved through trade magazines, Internet articles, web sites, employment hiring fairs and industry conferences.
Focus your marketing campaign on finding evolving projects you can use as vehicles to approach teaming partners and agencies directly with a marketing campaign geared to your capability statement. Develop a solution to the specific needs of the project and present it to gain their attention.
Your principal challenge as a small product and services provider is finding evolving programs and projects into which your capabilities fit. Once you have found such targets it is then a matter of marketing brusquely to get into the game with eye catching solutions and capabilities.
When a procurement becomes public on FEDBIZOPPS it stays public, but many invisible strings behind the scenes are likely already attached to it by aggressive and talented companies who may have sculpted the requirement with the agency, assisted in writing the statement of work or influenced the structure of the specifications to favor their products and services. All this is good, competitive marketing practice in the government contracting venue, just as it is in the commercial marketplace.
Use FEDBIZOPPS as discussed here in consonance with the following teaming and marketing articles:
FEDBIZOPPS is an absolute necessity once you make a bid decision. It is an extensive resource prior to such decisions and if utilized prudently it can enhance your small business government contract marketing plan dramatically.
“In the first quarter 2019 Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE) digest released last week, GSA’s Vicky Niblett, the deputy assistant commissioner for IAE in the Federal Acquisition Service, wrote, “We’ll be unveiling our newest roadmap and schedule in the second quarter, but we already know that [Wage Determinations Online] WDOL.gov will be the next IAE system to transition into beta.SAM.gov. After that will be FBO.gov, probably sometime in late 2019.”
Wait, that means we have to put up with the 15-year-old site that’s stuck in the 1990s for only a few more months?
Let’s not put the champagne on ice quite yet, but you know I’m ready to celebrate.
Now after expressing my continued frustration with FBO.gov, a former FAS systems guy tweeted at me reminding that maybe I should use the beta.SAM.gov site.
That’s a fine idea, so over the next few weeks, I will commit to testing out the new site – just like I used FBO.gov – and will report back with an analysis.
In the meantime, Niblett said GSA also will make other changes to beta.SAM.gov, including adding login.gov to the registration process and implementing ‘federal hierarchy,’ which is an internal process through which appropriate roles can be assigned to federal government workers.
In related news, GSA announced that IBM would continue to provide maintenance and migration support for the SAM.gov effort.
The agency awarded IBM a sole source contact worth $24 million over the next four years.
GSA awarded IBM the initial contract in 2010 and experienced some initial challenges with the program. But GSA says in its sole source justification that IBM has delivered good performance.
“During IBM’s eight years of performance on the SAM-AOCS contract, they have gained substantial knowledge of IAE systems. They have repeatedly delivered good performance and have improved over time,” GSA states in the justification. “IBM has gained the most technical knowledge of IAE systems among any source in the marketplace. Additionally, the SAM legacy systems are at the end of their product life and are scheduled to be retired and their functions transferred to the GSA cloud business platform over the next one-to-three years. The timing will depend on funding, completion of new system modules and applications, and the number of hurdles encountered during transition to the new information technology platform. It is considered impractical and risky to have a new contractor step in at this phase of the work, which is in the final steps of a 10-year project. For reasons of continuity during completion of the work, it would not be advantageous to the Government to solicit a new full and open RFP.”