The redesign of Beta.Sam.gov's look and feel has failed to impress many users who still miss the functionality of the old FBO.gov system.
The General Services Administration may have redesigned the look and feel of Beta.Sam.gov, but it has left many users still being unimpressed.
GSA unveiled the redesign on April 25 as it prepares to integrate nearly all procurement and contracting information into Sam.gov, after which "beta" will be droppedfrom its name.
Some areas are improvements as I wrote about last week, but since then the comments have been mostly negative. GSA to date has not responded to three requests for comment on the issues people are having.
“The inefficiency of this site makes my job even more difficult,” one person wrote to me.
“It is beyond frustrating and such a step back from the old FBO,” wrote a second person.
Beta.Sam took over for the Federal Business Opportunities website (FBO.gov or fedbizopps.gov) in November 2019 and was roundly met with criticism.
Users can access contract opportunities, contract data, wage determination data, the federal hierarchy, and assistance listings via the single portal today. Next up is the contract information that resides with Sam.gov, known more formally as the Systems of Award Management.
When the latter unctionality is ported over, GSA will drop the beta and the entire portal will only be known as Sam.gov.
What is remarkable to me about the complaints that have come in since last week is that they echo much of what was said at first when FBO.gov was shutdown. It’s telling that people still miss a website that was closed over 18 months ago.
But they complain that popular and useful features from FBO.gov are still missing. This includes automated emails for matching opportunities.
“We are missing business right and left because of our inability to get detailed searches and daily reports without wading through other requirements outside of IT,” a person wrote me.
This person mentioned having to sort through non-IT opportunities such “roller shades” when their search is specific to information technology. I run into the same issue. Unrelated junk ends up in my search results.
“FBO.gov was much better,” wrote another person.
I got one email from someone who has launched a business to grab the data feed from Beta.Sam and scrub it. That person sells it as a subscription, but claims a search via his services is quicker and cleaner. Many other market research firms offer similar services.
But if you are a small business with 100 employees or a one-man shop, should you really need to pay an outside service for access to free federal data?
As I said, I’ve tried reaching out to GSA with no luck. I’d like to know their process for collecting feedback and what they’ve do with it.
Last year, GSA said they learned valuable lessons from the standup of Beta.Sam. It seems there are lessons still to be learned.