IT Modernization

Pandemic means beta.SAM shift will take a little longer

customer experience (garagestock/ 

The General Services Administration has slowed its shift of legacy acquisition systems components to a new, more modern platform to avoid confusion and help users stay on top of contracting data.

Judith Zawatsky assistant commissioner in the Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Systems Management at GSA explained at a May 28 AFCEA virtual event that rapid modernization of customer-facing systems isn't necessarily a good thing.

GSA is in the process of moving 10 legacy systems, including FedBizOpps, its old Systems of Award Management (SAM) and Federal Data Procurement System (FPDS) to its beta.SAM portal, which will eventually become the agency's hub for contracting and grant management capabilities.

As the pandemic advanced in the last few months, GSA has kept the old FPDS up, while porting some search functions to the beta site. The dual approach, said Zawatsky, allows critical purchasing data to remain available to contractors and agencies to generate reports.

"We hoped to shutter FPDS this spring," she said, but she said that fall is looking more likely.

Even before the pandemic, the agency was readjusting its approach to the move earlier in the year, after it completed moving its old FedBizOpps contract opportunities system to beta.SAM. That move, completed last year, led to user complaints about loss of functionality and complications arising from two-factor authentication requirements.

Zawatsky said earlier this month that those difficulties had already tempered GSA's approach to the move. She said the agency had learned it needed to give users a longer time to get used to new capabilities and the overall new environment that differed from the agency's legacy systems.

The pandemic environment injected more uncertainty into all businesses, including GSA's. Keeping procurement data in readily available form, whether in FPDS or FPDS on beta.SAM, can lessen already heightened anxiety among users, according to Zawasky.

"You have to give people a long tail" moving over from legacy systems, such as FPDS, she said. "We're slowing decommission of legacy systems to allow people to get used to that new experience," she said.

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, 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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