Tools to Find Contract, Bid and RFP Opportunities

Friday, June 30, 2023

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The government contracting market has many options for paid tools to find contract, bid, and Request for Proposal (RFP) opportunities. It’s no secret that this information is attainable outside their paywall and expertise, but some of these resources may appear too daunting to be serviceable.

Here are a few tips and tricks for a few well-known sources and some unsung heroes. 

USASpending is the official source for U.S. federal spending data with a mission to provide transparency to the American public on how the U.S. government spends taxpayer money. One of the more modern public tools for housing U.S. procurement data, this website allows anyone to track monies from the Congressional appropriations to U.S. federal agencies, local communities, and businesses.

USASpending offers great visualizations and easy-to-use tools to search and download budgetary and award data. However, data downloads can take a long time and sometimes do not match other public federal databases.

Most USASpending data is extracted from and then translated and standardized into its format. This means that data is only as good as the individual coding the primary information and how accurately it is translated. Inevitably, this leads to gaps in spending sources. For example, $56B (or 1.04%) of the total budget is classified as “Unreported Data;” another $10.7B is categorized as “Unknown.”

SAM combines numerous older websites:,,, and, into one comprehensive system for doing business with the U.S. government. Today, SAM is the ran by the General Services Administration (GSA) and serves as the official U.S. Government website used to:

  • Register to do business with the U.S. government;
  • Update, renew, or check the status of your entity registration;
  • Search for entity registration and exclusion records; and
  • Search for assistance listings, wage determinations, contract opportunities, and contract data reports.

Users can access publicly available award data via data extracts and system accounts and view and submit BioPreferred and Service Contract Reports. There is no cost to use or register. Still, a vendor must register its entity and get a UEI to do business with the federal government before being awarded any federal contract.

SAM doesn’t stick out as a modern, intuitive government website, but it is a necessary tool to find opportunities and work with the U.S. government. The Ad Hoc reports and Report Builder behind the Data Bank can help search specific spending or contact information and identify top vendors working with certain federal agencies.

Quick user tip! Always be mindful of hierarchy structures and opportunity status, and always mark inactive and active when searching. is a comprehensive online platform that serves as a central hub for acquisition-related information, policies, and tools. It provides an easier way to search the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and a lot of resources all in one place that might be hard to find otherwise, such as:

  • U.S. federal agency procurement forecasts;
  • Small business liaison contact information and website links;
  • Vendor communication plans; and
  • Agency industry liaison directories. 

Since pulls data from other U.S. government websites, the links and numbers are only as good as those sources. It is not vetted for usefulness or if the links are still working.

Run by GSA, this website allows federal, state, and local buyers to solicit products and services from verified GSA contractors. This is a tried and true way to access genuine government buyers with real needs and funding.

However, there is a lack of transparency as eBuy opportunities are only available to GSA Schedule contractors. This means that most GSA Schedules bids are not available to be viewed by the public. Users need to have a GSA Schedule contract to access the platform. Once awarded a GSA Schedule contract, you must register with the Vendor Support Center (VSC). is the official U.S. government system that provides a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. Today, the system is owned by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and houses information on over 1,000 grant programs and vets’ grant applications for federal grant-making agencies.

This website is user-friendly with updated and accurate information and statutes, although finding documents or the federal buyer contact information related to an opportunity is clunky and sometimes unavailable. There is no cost to use or register, but you must register your entity and get a UEI to do business with the U.S. government., managed by GSA, is the official hub for challenges and prize competitions across the U.S. government.

Since 2010, the U.S. government has held over 1,200 prize competitions, engaging public solvers, including students, hobbyists, small business owners, academic researchers, and others. The longitude and ship navigation, Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, and even initial designs for the U.S. Capitol and White House—all were the results of open prize competitions.

The website separates events from challenges, making it easy to track what is going on in the community. It also has a pretty helpful newsletter. But, it is tough to identify when a challenge has been released or was activated. The website also lacks structured data and has no API, making it hard to standardize. 

Accessing this website requires zero registration, but every prize competition is structured differently, and the details for competition registration matter. For example, some challenges restrict foreign entities from participating due to national security concerns. Some entities are ineligible to receive any cash or monetary prizes from these challenges, and those participants are designated as ineligible by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Established in 1976 under the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act, FAI supports more than 50 comprehensive training courses for the federal acquisition workforce, such as Human Capital Planning or Equity in Procurement. This makes it an excellent tool for understanding how the acquisition workforce is being trained. 

FAI provides helpful tools like the Periodic Table of Acquisition Innovations and Playbooks. Playbooks are very useful as they detail case studies for various acquisition methods and their outcomes. This helps the federal contractor provide substantiation for acquisition strategy recommendations during the market research process.

To ensure maximum opportunities for U.S. small businesses, the Department of State (DOS) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) reviews, documents, and publically reports proposed acquisition strategies and decisions through its DS-1910 Report. 

This report is helpful for federal contractors targeting DOS opportunities because it substantiates acquisition strategy recommendations during the market research process and actual points of contact for relationship development and management.

The report is updated bi-weekly, and reviews are valid for one year from the date of issuance.

Directed by Defense Healthcare Management Systems (DHMS), Hive, or BidScale, is a virtual platform in the federal health space that makes the federal contract process quicker and more accessible.

HIVE is exceptionally active in the industry and U.S. government regarding community, providing consolidated access to crucial information like updates, events, and announcements. Like GSA Interact, HIVE also provides an open line of communication with federal program and contracting officers.

IBx Connect is an application to coordinate specific strategic innovation and industrial base expansion efforts across the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), federal partners, academia, and the private sector.

The IBx Connect portal is the single point of information and entry to market research and federal interactions concerning these requirements. If you are in the public health and medical, industrial base, and supply chain, this is the place to monitor your opportunities.

GSA Pricing is a one-stop location for contract and task order pricing information across GSA vehicles and purchases. It houses several valuable tools for contractors, including:

  • Document Library that files samples, templates, and tips.
  • Market Research as-a-Service that automates Requests for Information (RFI) and product searches.
  • Contract Seach chronicles GSA contract award information and vendors.

Our favorite is the Contract-Awarded Labor Category (CALC) tool. This great pricing tool allows federal vendors to review fully burdened Not-to-Exceed Ceiling Rates awarded under GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. This is helpful when assessing the relative competitiveness of a vendor’s price to other vendors’ prices in some cases. 

The Pulse emphasizes that federal procurement data specifically is only as good as the individual manually inputting it into the system. Human error, time restraints, and classified information put an asterisk next to these specific numbers, data, and information.

However, these sources are the purest you can get – straight from the government’s mouth. These websites offer a unique insight into how the federal government operates and prioritizes the importance of specific data elements, as these data categories and visuals are deemed most important by federal policy. And you must pay attention without a filtered lens.

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