GSA extends procurement data reports transition due to coronavirus, feedback
The General Services Administration won’t require anyone to use the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) reports function within beta.SAM.gov until the end of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
FPDS.gov tracks all federal contracts of $10,000 or more, and its reporting module uses transactional data from procurements in ad hoc, standard and static reports.
The Integrated Award Environment office at GSA began moving its reports function to beta.SAM.gov on Feb. 1 but is now calling it a soft launch.
“We want to require the FPDS reports by the end of this year,” said Vicky Niblett, deputy assistant commissioner at IAE, during an ACT-IAC virtual session. “I will say we had wanted to do it sooner, but with COVID-19 and what we heard from our users, we are now targeting a little bit closer to the end of the year.”
IAE learned it needs to give the contracting community more lead time into transitions because there is a “large” learning curve using the new ad hoc report tool, MicroStrategy (not to be confused with the business intelligence company). The migration to beta.SAM.gov’s Data Bank was slated for completion on March 16, but for now, FPDS.gov users can continue creating reports there — though they won’t transfer.
MicroStrategy increases the maximum number of rows per report from 30,000 to 150,000, pulls historical data from 12 years ago rather than just five, includes additional fields, streamlines sharing, and assists users with a Report Builder “wizard” and Learning Center.
“We are hearing from our users, once they get over and they familiarize themselves with the new tool, they’re much happier with it,” Niblett said.
FPDS.gov is one of 10 procurement systems that will eventually be merged into the cloud-based IAE, a process that’s met criticism from federal contractors. The Professional Services Council — a trade association of 400 members like Amazon Web Services, Cisco Systems and Microsoft — wrote GSA in February recommending authentication, saved search, email update, and design improvements to beta.SAM.gov.
GSA acknowledged the negative feedback.
“It kept me up at night the frustrations users were having with the initial rollout of contract opportunities,” Niblett said. “But, first and foremost, the biggest thing that gave me comfort was the fact that all of our data migrated perfectly and beautifully.”
The System for Award Management is being simultaneously moved into the IAE, and 5.6 million data elements were migrated during the SAM.gov Opportunities transition. More than 35,000 new contract opportunities have been published since the November launch of beta.SAM.gov, which will drop the “beta” label once all SAM.gov functionality has migrated — about a year from now, Niblett said.
More than 637,000 users have registered for beta.SAM.gov, which has exceeded SAM.gov in hits at 1 million a day on average.
IAE continues to run “a lot” of focus groups for contracting officials, small business owners and the grant-making community around beta.SAM.gov functionality and users, said Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Services Office of Systems Management within GSA.
New SAM capabilities are expected this summer, Zawatsky said.
“A lot of our final decision to go is based on successful user testing,” she added.
IAE initially deployed new functions every three to four months but has that down to one to two weeks with patches when necessary. The team is also continuing the move away from the proprietary, nine-digit Data Universal Numbering System number to a new unique entity identifier for doing business with the government, Niblett said.
IAE is helping with coronavirus response by using the National Interest Action (NIA) code’s new COVID-19 2020 value to track relief contracts. An NIA report is produced twice weekly on beta.SAM.gov and FPDS.gov.
“While we are not the ones who are sourcing [personal protective equipment] and we are not the ones who are standing up clinics and we are not the ones who are doing medical care, we are the ones who make it feasible for that to happen very quickly and ultimately feasible for the federal government to track that for transparency purposes,” Zawatsky said.