“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin.
We all want to plan but many of us struggle to plan for opportunities in the government sector. Some of the tools out there are really complex and hard to navigate. Other paid resources that aggregate the data for you can be expensive. So we want to share a few tools that we've found to be quite user friendly.
One such system is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Acquisition Planning Forecast System (APFS). The DHS APFS is actually easy to navigate (imagine that). Also, a lot of the search criteria is actually written in English and not “Acronym”. The fields that are in “Acronym” allow you to keep the default value of VIEW ALL and then narrow the search once you see opportunities. The things we like most about this system are:
1. It allows you to forecast (since we are already in Q1 of the new fiscal year) and
2. It allows you to narrow your search by program (i.e. WOSB, SDVOSB, 8(a), etc.).
This APFS tool is used by just one department of the federal government; so, this is by no means the only source of procurement and acquisition information available. Another extremely friendly site is Unison formerly FedBid. This site is an online marketplace that many federal departments have turned to for sourcing goods and services. There are several advantages to this marketplace:
1. It is SUPER easy to navigate,
2. The bid process is much simpler - and therefore less expensive - than going a traditional route of
preparing an RFP, and
3. You can find opportunities at many different agencies on this one resource
Those first 2 sites are free resources, and we all love free. However, if you can make a small investment in your business, then you may want to consider a tool like GovTribe. The cost is nominal for a single user and still relatively reasonable for up to 10 users. This will not only allow you to source Federal Contract AND Grant data, but it will give you valuable information like:
1. Likely competitors (based on prior award data)
2. Similar projects to the ones you review
3. The people (contracting officers, etc.) attached to projects along with contact information
Now that you have a few resources, start mining the data to see what opportunities you can uncover to help make 2020 your best year ever!