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Slick Tools for Tracking Contracts, Competition

John Makulowich

By John Makulowich

As the federal government continues to focus on re-engineering and outsourcing initiatives for selective processes and services, it is imperative for contractors to keep on top of news and developments if they hope to stay competitive.

One of the easier ways to do this is by monitoring and subscribing to any of a handful of government business services. Among the more popular ones are GovCon Inc. of Rockville, Md. (www.govcon.com), Input of Mountain View, Calif. (www.inputgov.com) and Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va. (www.fedsources.com).

GovCon carries the tag line, "Your link to the government community," and boasts 85,000 registered users. On its well-crafted home page ? it has a clean look, clearly marked buttons and easy-to-navigate entry screen ?there is a wealth of resources for doing business with the government.

Raj Khera, company president, said the layout is designed for the beginning user and the more advanced federal contractor. For the new user, GovCon carries tutorials with information about ways to search for government contracts and business opportunities, for example, as a subcontractor.

Like the two other government business services, the site carries Commerce Business Daily, the bible for government contractors. However, according to Khera, those who have tried all the services find the search tool on GovCon the easiest to use.

For the seasoned user who wants to explore more deeply, there are the FACNET (Federal Acquisitions Computer Network) bids and awards. You also find the extremely valuable active contracts database, which carries all the records in the Federal Procurement Data System. GovCon receives this data on tape from the General Service Administration. This is one of the few fee-based services on the GovCon site.

The GovCon site notes: "The General Services Administration requires by law that most executive agencies report all contract actions over $25,000.00 by submitting an action report, or 'Contract Action Report.' Our database contains all contract actions reported from Fiscal Year 1995 to the present. All data is updated quarterly."

Khera's company, Khera Communications Inc., packages the data and makes it easier to search. The result is a gold mine for those who want to identify the competition, uncover contracts up for renewal and the Standard Industrial Classification for companies doing the work. The data is also crosslinked to the CBD announcement if it was published in the last three years.

Khera also has another site, one targeted to small business owners, called Business Resource Center (www.morebusiness.com). It features useful information and forms, such as business agreements and tips on marketing and management. There is a virtual daily magazine for the small business user.

Khera reminds users that with the start of the new fiscal year, agencies have a lot of money and proposals will be coming down the pike in the next few months. Contracting officers want to finalize their proposals and get them published as requests for proposal before the holidays. His company is developing a product that will be launched via an intranet and is targeted to work groups. He said it will be an out-of-the-box solution for document sharing over the Web and features a time-sheet module.



You can send John e-mail at john@journalist.com; his Web address is www.cais.com/makulow

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