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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Early glitches damper launch of FBO.gov's successor

Change is hard for everyone, and when something you rely nearly every day changes overnight. That’s really hard.

So I wanted a few days before diving into the new Beta.Sam.Gov website that absorbed FBO.gov and many other government databases on Nov. 8 with more to be consolidated.

I heard the reports about slowness and glitches. So I waited a few days. And I gave it a test drive today. I’m not real happy and I’m not alone.

For me, I used FBO.gov to search for new requests for information and sources sought as well as solicitations and awards. I went there to search for specific contracts. For me, the advanced search feature was easy to use and almost intuitive.

Was it perfect? No. I wish it went back more than a year. I wish there were more connections between procurements.

I know all of us have unique information needs. Most of you probably aren’t looking for the same thing I am. I want to look at the last two or three days of postings dealing with IT, professional services and research-and-development. I also want to filter notices based on sources sought, awards, solicitations and justifications.

FBO.gov would generally provide what I was looking for. I’d find some nice news tidbits and I could track developing procurements.

Beta.Sam.Gov seems to have more features, but I can’t figure out why it has so many date choices to filter searches on. There is something called “Inactive Date”, followed by “Published Date” (I think I know what that is.) Then there is “Updated Date” and “Response/Date Offers Due.”

Narrowing my search parameters is difficult. I can’t seem to save my searches. The help function just isn’t, well, very helpful.

I’m not alone in my challenges.

One contractor complained that Beta.Sam.gov changed “Solicitation Number” to “Notification Number.” And what does that mean?

There are no push notifications yet for new opportunities or updates. This contractor called notifications “arguably the most critical feature" of FBO.gov.

That person voiced concern that we’ll see fewer procurements going through Beta.Sam.gov and moving to other means that don’t require public notification because if industry is struggling with it, then government contracting shops are as well.

Market research firm The Pulse GovCon has multiple concerns with the transition. Like Deltek and Bloomberg Government, The Pulse relies on the data from Beta.Sam.gov to track new procurements and contract actions.

Analysts at The Pulse GovCon provided us with a list of problems with the transition:

  • Lack of communication from the General Services Administration during the transition. “It is unclear who the owner of this is,” they said.
  • The API, which pulls data from the backend, is limited and doesn’t match information that you see on the front-end page.
  • Agencies are still being migrated, which makes identifying opportunities disjointed.
  • Advanced searches and saving searches are a struggle.
  • Frequent time outs.

I hope GSA is working to improve Beta.Sam.gov. Frankly, it makes me nervous that FBO.gov is gone and is replaced with something called Beta. You don’t replace a tried and true tool with something called Beta.

I’d like to hear what you are experiencing. If you have any tips or tricks, please share.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 15, 2019 at 12:45 PM


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