FSI opens door to municipalities

Contractors that look to Federal Sources Inc. for leads on information technology

opportunities in federal and state government soon could tap into a new

database of cities and counties.

FSI, a McLean, Va.-based market research and consulting firm, is planning

to unveil a municipal database by year's end, said Bill Knauer, director

of state and local government content. Similar to its federal and state

counterparts, the city and county database would list pre-RFPs (requests

for proposals), bids and contracts of planned technology projects.

FSI subscribers are mostly major IT government vendors and smaller companies

seeking business opportunities in the public sector.

When FSI launched its state database seven years ago, it planned to

list municipal opportunities as well but found the task too difficult. Less

than 5 percent of opportunities currently in the state database are municipally

related, he said. Creating a separate municipal database gained support

after several clients and other IT vendors responded favorably to the idea.

A majority of municipalities also expressed interest. This time around,

FSI's sister organization, Atlanta-based American City & County magazine,

is co-developing the database by providing mailing lists, contacts and research

information about municipalities, Knauer said.

He said providing a national

database of municipal IT prospects would enhance the competitive bidding

process for cities and counties, while contractors would broaden their business

prospects. FSI has predicted that by 2004, the state and local market would

grow to $45.3 billion, a 5.3 percent compounded annual growth rate increase.

To be listed, municipalities would be subject to similar criteria as

the states, Knauer said, except that the value threshold for municipal listings

would be much lower. State listings must be at least $100,000. Initially,

the database would list opportunities culled from the top 50 U.S. cities

and counties in terms of population: 25 cities with 500,000 people or more

— such as New York, Houston and Philadelphia — and 25 counties with more

than 750,000 people — including Los Angeles County; Cook County, Ill.; and

Harris County, Texas.

Knauer said the company hopes to list 100 IT opportunities before the

database is rolled out. Eventually, Knauer said they'd like to include hundreds

more municipalities. The current challenge is to persuade municipalities

to share information with FSI, Knauer said, adding that FSI is in the "feeling-out

stage," meaning that the company is building relationships and understanding

each municipality's procurement rules.

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