Acquisition

Contractors detail SAM website woes

SYSTEM OF AWARD MANAGEMENT 

Companies large and small are still not happy with the General Services Administration's new federal contract opportunities portal, according to the Professional Services Council.

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.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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