RFP-EZ delivers early value

Todd Park and Obama

CTO Todd Park, here showing data on his tablet to President Obama, says RFP-EZ will bring more businesses into the federal market. (White House photo)

RFP-EZ has been touted as a faster, easier way for tech companies to compete for the federal government's IT contracts, and now data suggests the pilot program also has the potential to save big taxpayer dollars.

A Small Business Administration analysis found bids received under RFP-EZ's platform for four common IT projects came in 30 percent lower on average than bids for the same projects through the standard procurement portal FedBizOpps, and showed less variation.

Overall, RFP-EZ attracted more than 270 new businesses to federal IT procurement, and though initial contracts through RFP-EZ are not expected to be finalized until June, Federal Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said it's clear the new system will save money and open up the government marketplace to a wider range of companies.

"As we refine and expand the use of RFP-EZ, we are confident that its success will grow, delivering better value for taxpayers and opening new opportunities for small businesses," Park said in a statement. How high is RFP-EZ's potential?

While purchases under RFP-EZ are limited to the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000, the federal government will spend approximately $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2014 on web infrastructure and web content management systems, according to the Office of Management and Budget's IT Dashboard.

Park said half of those projects will be under the simplified acquisition threshold, eligible to contract through RFP-EZ.

A relatively new endeavor, the RFP-EZ platform was one of several projects created through the first class of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which put private-sector entrepreneurs and federal innovators together to solve government-specific problems.

RFPEZ Graphic

Chart showing the amount of money bid through RFP-EZ and FedBizOpps for four types of acquisitions. (White House data)

Three members of the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows – Clay Johnson, Jed Wood and Adam Becker – created RFP-EZ for the government. Johnson and Becker have since launched a new business based on the open-source software they designed, hoping to improve a government IT purchasing process that they found to be "profoundly broken."

In the coming months, a new batch of fellows will apply changes to RFP-EZ based on the pilot program's feedback from entrepreneurs and federal contractors, developing RFP-EZ 2.0. Park said the focus will be on "scaling its initial results across the federal government," which is an enticing possibility considering the government spends $80 billion on IT each year, and doles out billions more each year throughout its agencies on contracts that fall below the acquisition threshold.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.


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