This month Federal Business Opportunities, long known as FedBizOpps or FBO, officially became a thing of the past – shuttered over the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend – as the General Services Administration has stepped up with its new Contract Opportunities page on SAM.
The website beta.SAM.gov is now the official source for federal business opportunities via the “contract opportunities” section. This move essentially merged 10 legacy award systems into one. Among the old systems that have been retired were Wage Determinations Online and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, followed by the aforementioned FBO.gov. The System for Award Management is also among those being merged to the new SAM site, which will leave its beta stage and simply become SAM.gov.
Other award systems including the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System, Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, Past Performance Information Retrieval System, Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System and the FFATA Subaward Reporting System eventually be rolled into the new site.
However, not all government agencies will make the migration. Earlier this month the Federal Aviation Administration’s headquarters office announced it would not be posting to the Contract Opportunities page on SAM, and instead the agency said vendors must go to the FAA Contract Opportunities website (https://faaco.faa.gov) for FAA procurement related announcements. The FAA added that it anticipates resolution of system compatibility issues to allow for publication to beta.SAM.gov in the future.
GSA has been testing the beta.SAM.gov test in one capacity or another since 2017 – beginning with users and focus groups – and this rollout will offer more precise number, keyword and location searches. In addition, the site promises to better alert users to contract opportunities as these are updated. Users could search by NAICS code, place of performance and DUNS number or its replace, Unique ID – which will be phased in by the end of next year.
However, the beta site’s arrival wasn’t exactly “ready for prime time” and throughout much of this past week the page was slow to load, if it loaded at all.
Even after a going offline mid-week during its initial launch, the performance of the beta site had not much improved by Thursday afternoon, when users found the site plagued by slow performance as GSA worked to correct the issue.
Such problems are par for the course with new websites even in late 2019, but that likely isn’t instilling confidence on those contractors that had been using the old version.
“At this point in time, you’d think that web site developers and creators would understand the complexities and interdependencies involved in migrating an existing site’s features and functions to a new site,” explained Charles King, technology analyst at Pund-IT.
“More importantly, it’s hard to understand why any agency would fully replace an old site before all the bugs were worked out on the beta site,” King told ClearanceJobs. “But that’s what appears to have happened in this case. At best, it’s an unfortunate misstep that will hopefully be resolved in short order. At least that’s what those pursuing Federal government awards are likely praying for.”