Access to current and historical federal solicitation and contract data is key to encouraging competition among vendors, which results in more innovation, efficiency and better accomplishment of agencies' missions. It is especially important to small businesses or others who are new to the federal marketplace.
However, the implementation of category management procurement practices throughout the federal government which has resulted in the consolidation of buying activity into Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC's), has had an unintended consequence: lack of data transparency. Solicitations, usually in the form of Task Orders, are only visible to prime contract holders. I get that. But AFTER contract award, the solicitation records should be made publicly available. By law, the contract record is made available via SAM.gov (used to be called FPDS), but the description of the requirements on those contract records are usually obtuse "help desk", "audit services" or worse yet "per SOW" or "follow-on work for ABC Company." That is why access to the solicitations for those contracts is so important. The solicitation records provide context, purpose, statements of objectives and many details about the work the agency needs to have performed.
Companies desiring to compete to work at given agencies must become knowledgeable of those agencies' missions, budgets, procurement forecasts and in most cases, especially, their procurement history. Knowing agencies' plans, desires and current solutions - all embedded in solicitation records - are critical for new vendors to provide alternative, innovative solutions. But the lack of access to solicitation records on GWAC's severely limits competition.
Join me in raising this issue to our elected officials.