The most user-friendly in our opinion, usaspending.gov is the most underrated publicly available tool to access past federal spending data. It offers a user-friendly interface that is ideal for a first-time user, in comparison to its data source – the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). There is much more data available to you than what’s in the UI if you download the full report. From how many offers a contract received to whether or not it appeared on SAM. If you’re good with Excel, you’ll be enlightened as to what you’ll find.
System for Award Management (SAM)
In addition to current solicitations, you can also use the search features to reverse-engineer your response efforts. The System for Award Management includes an “Ad-Hoc Reporting” feature which is slightly more limited in what it displays than USA Spending, however, it can be valuable to your market research efforts nonetheless.
Whether you’re looking to evaluate whether or not a GSA schedule is right for your company, or simply performing a competitive analysis on those who hold your market share, GSA eLibrary can be a useful tool. One characteristic of being a GSA Schedule holder is that your pricing becomes public knowledge. If you’re new to government contracting and are wondering what the schedule holders charge the government, check out GSA eLibrary.
LinkedIn is probably the most commonly underrated tool that offers free search filters that you can use to identify employees of government agencies or those within the companies you are targeting as prime contractors.
You do not need a paid Sales Navigator subscription to use this feature, though depending on how well you’ve managed your pipeline it may be worth adding later on. If you’re managing your pipeline in a CRM, you may not need the paid version. However, it is helpful to know when someone leaves or enters a particular agency in your pipeline. Sales Navigator will notify you when such occurs. We are not ambassadors or affiliates of LinkedIn, this is merely from experience. While you’re checking it out, feel free to connect with me here.
Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
Along with SAM, Dynamic Small Business Search is going through some changes of its own this year. Its place in the contracting lifecycle has been solidified as the database to verify socio-economics at the time of the award. Not only is this a primary resource for market research for government agencies but small businesses and prime contractors use it as well.
I challenge you to do a keyword search in DSBS for your core competencies. If you do janitorial for example, simply use the filters at the top to select your state. Then type in “janitorial” as your keyword. While results are limited to 5,000 per search, the results are your competitors. Review their profiles (especially their capability narrative) and compare it to your own. Did you fill out your DSBS profile entirely to increase your visibility and exposure among your potential future buyers?
If you’re trying to find something specific about a contract, an agency, or a competitor and are having trouble – it’s okay to ask for help here or from your local PTAC.