“You need to pay for Government Contracting intelligence” is one of the biggest lies in our industry. Commercial systems and consulting firms would have you believe that the information they pull is shrouded in mystery, otherwise unattainable outside their paywall and their expertise.
We are here to set the record straight. The origin of this intelligence is free…you just need to know where to look. To assist you in your quest for this information The Pulse has provided four tangible ways to capture this intelligence online.
1: Investigate Industry Job Postings.
There is no doubt that any market intelligence research these days should begin with a simple Google search or visiting your competitor’s web page. But you can also learn something by studying the kinds of jobs your Federal agency or competitors are looking to fill. Encourage your recruiters and human resource (HR) professionals to set up Google Alerts to monitor free job boards such as USAJobs, LinkedIn Jobs, and beta.SAM for Personal Services Contractor (PSC) postings. This type of monitoring could lead to a potential opportunity to fill a vacancy on an active contract, gather intelligence on who is buying from your competitors right now, or what type of initiatives your Federal agency is preparing for.
2: Scrutinize Federal Documentation.
To create work out of external need Government Contractors need to be aware of what Federal leadership views as their deficiencies, gap areas, and objectives. Government Contractors can glean context clues and information from the following creative sources:
- Budget and Performance Documentation: Each Federal agency includes budget and performance documentation as well as strategic plans on their website. Explore these documents to gather intelligence on where your agency-of-choice would like to spend their money and where they believe their agency is heading.
- Government Accountability Office (GAO) Material: Use GAO material to connect areas for Federal efficiencies and improvements. Explore their bid protests decisions to understand how agencies evaluate their proposals and learn from your competitor’s mistakes. These decisions also prove as a great place to gather competitive intelligence not only on external vendors but on yourself as well (if you are ever the subject).
- Organizational Charts: Study an agency’s organizational chart(s) to understand their acronyms and roles before you walk in the door.
- Congressional Documents: We recommend monitoring publicly available Congressional documents to include White House, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) memos to stay ahead of the curve. Read more on our thoughts here.
3: Explore Federal Government Trackers and Tools.
Surprise, not all Government Contracting information and spending data is publicly available or easy to find. Why is that you ask? We will save that for another day. In the meantime, we recommend exploring the few Federal websites out there to garner greater insight on what is happening under certain Federal procurement vehicles and their task orders:
- Public Category Management Dashboards & Analytics: The General Services Administration (GSA) made its government-wide category management awards exploration tool that monitors Best In Class (BIC) vehicle activity publicly available. This database lets Government Contractors triage information by BIC vehicle and gain competitive intelligence at the award level such as by contract name and spend under management tier. Similar information can also be found on the GSA Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) Sales Dashboard.
- Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Schedule Sales Query Plus (SSQ+): FAS’s Acquisition Oversight Division has developed the SSQ+ Dashboard to provide Government Contractors with information to see how their company stacks up compared to other vendors on the same GSA Schedule, how their sales compared to the competition overall, and how data can be leveraged to improve business practices and take advantage of new opportunities. Please note SSQ+ is now in Beta testing.
- Contract-Awarded Labor Category (CALC): CALC is a great pricing tool that helps Federal Contracting Officers and the Government Contractors find awarded prices to use in negotiations for labor contracts. It offers ceiling prices, fully burdened costs, services data, and worldwide rates. GSA’s OASIS Price Estimating Tool (PET) is a similar tool developed to help users conduct wage comparisons across different occupations, experience and qualifications levels, indirect rate levels, and metropolitan statistical areas. Note that OASIS PET can only be used by OASIS Government Contractors.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acquisition Planning Forecast System (APFS): DHS APFS is a portal for Government Contractors to view anticipated contract actions above $250,000. APFS allows users to view incumbent contract information (when available), point of contact information and projected release dates.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) Contract Catalog Search Tool (CCST) eCMS: CCST allows Government Contractors to search all open Indefinite Delivery/Quantity (IDIQ) ordering vehicles recorded in eCMS, VA’s contracting system of record. Contracts that can be found using the Pharmaceutical and MedSurg searches are excluded to prevent confusion and should be searched for using those search functions. Users can search by contract title, line item description, contract number, contractor, and contract action type.
- Micro-Purchases GitHub: VA has a GitHub repository for its micro-purchases primarily supporting VA’s API platform. In this repo, VA seeks feedback on draft micro consulting work statements and solicits micro consulting Request for Quotes (RFQs). Similarly, 18F operates its own GitHub repository for open-source coding services.
4: Forage Social Media and Federal Communication Platforms.
In case you have missed it, Federal agencies have been actively announcing and sharing events, challenges, and solicitations (including their awards) on various social media channels. A turnaround from just a few years ago, Federal agencies are now encouraged to participate in social media land to include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium. Social media and Federal communication platforms can increase a Government Contractors brand awareness and can turn a “cold call or email” into a “lukewarm” one. Make your organization known to Federal buyers by utilizing the following tools:
- GSA Interact: GSA Interact is an open, collaborative community for connecting, communicating, learning, and engaging across GSA topics. Create a profile, join groups, and be an active participant through the comment feature.
- DHS Vendor Outreach Session Schedule System: DHS sponsors a series of small business Vendor Outreach Sessions featuring pre-arranged 15-minute appointments with the SBS and several large Government Contractors that currently have prime contracts with DHS. Create a profile, review the list of counselors, and determine which counselors you wish to meet with for further information.
- Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Internet Bid Board System (DIBBS): DLA’s DIBBS is a web-based application that allows Government Contractors to search for, view, and submit secure quotes on requests for quotations for DLA supply items.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Small Business Vendor Profile System (SBVPS): EPA has developed a web-based database of small business firms interested in doing business with the agency.
- Social Security Administration (SSA) Vendor Repository: The SSA Vendor Repository is the most effective way to market your goods and services to SSA. Send an electronic version of your capability statement to the listed SSA point of contact to demonstrate your organization’s ability to provide quality products or services that they buy.
- Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Small Business Capabilities Input Form: Any organization can email a completed Small Business Capabilities Input Form to USPTO SB Specialist and Industry Liaison.
- Treasury Small Business Electronic Capability Statement (SB e-CS): This is an electronic tool that enables organizations interested in doing business with the agency to identify their capabilities for their acquisition personnel.
- Education (ED) Small Business Customer Experience (SBCX): ED recently launched a new site dedicated to helping small businesses connect more easily with federal contracting opportunities. By registering on SBCX, you will be able to create an interactive profile where you can upload your information and indicate what Program Offices you are interested in working with.
Now that you know where the information hides, it is time to interpret it and put it into context. As professional Government Contracting storytellers, we stand ready to deliver you the critical context your organization needs to optimize your business development engine.
Want to learn more? Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you #bidwithintent.