WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Beta.Sam.Gov refresh is on the way. Fingers crossed.

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for Beta.Sam.Gov and how it went from a somewhat troubled but reliable government website in FBO.gov to an exercise in frustration.

But I’m also an optimist and know I’m not the only one who has been unhappy with Beta.Sam.

Now the General Services Administration is weeks away from unveiling a redesigned Beta.Sam as it moves ever closer to dropping the "Beta" and just going with Sam.gov. When that happens, GSA will have a consolidated portal to government procurement data and processes.

GSA has released information on what is included in what they are calling a “design refresh.” They have been holding focus groups and interviews with users to identify what is working and what isn’t with Beta.Sam. For the record, no one has asked for my thoughts.

The changes seem to focus on how search results are delivered and how filters are used.

I’m glad to read that the search results will be more compact and that you will have the choice to increase the results beyond the default of 10. You’ll have choices of 25, 50 or 100 results per page.

This should be a time saver because you won’t have to scroll and click through to other pages.

I’ll be curious if any of this will cure one of my pet peeves. When I use a saved search, it always opens on Page 4 of the search results instead of Page 1. I have to scroll to the bottom and then click on page 1 to begin looking at the most recent results.

For the new design, GSA has created landing pages for the different domains in Beta.Sam. Contracts opportunities is the domain I use almost exclusively. Other domains include contract data, wage determinations, federal hierarchy, and assistance listing.

If you want to focus on a particular domain, you can go to that domain to start your search.

The filter options also will be more compact and you’ll be able to use a calendar function to narrow the timeframe of a search.

These changes sound good but I worry. Are they just cosmetic? Will deeper functionality issues be addressed?

For example, I follow a bunch of contracts but going to my “Following” page remains pretty useless because the name of an individual contract isn’t visible. Just the solicitation number. Some of those I can decipher but not many.

So I have to click through and see what the contract is and what is new. I’d rather know the name upfront. That would save me time.

I also hope they are consolidating how the information about a particular opportunity is presented. I think there is too much white space. The information seems to be spread out too much. Information in areas such as General Information and Classification can be easily consolidated.

Reading through the information is more of a slog than it was in FBO, which had a cleaner more direct layout. I knew how to read the information there quickly and accurately. I feel like after all this time, I’m still learning to read Beta.Sam.

But I’ll withhold judgment for now on what this design refresh really means and will hope for the best.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 23, 2021 at 6:22 AM


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