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Research Past Federal Contract Awards (In Under 30 Minutes)

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Did you know? USASpending.Gov provides over 60 pieces of data on every federal government purchase worth more than $25,000 -- free!  And you can see data on first-tier subcontracts, too.

Why is this helpful?  First, buying trends tell you whether government already buys things like yours, and who they're buying from now.  Second, individual contract data, you get contact information on the vendor -- useful if you want to explore teaming. But best of all, expiry dates for current contracts gives you crucial lead time to start marketing before the next RFP comes out, or even hits the forecasts.

Where to go: www.usaspending.gov.

How to start:

  • Have questions in mind when you begin, like "Which government agencies buy my kind of services?" or "Who are the top vendors of my kind of products or services to the Department of Homeland Security?"
  • "Agency" can be a single organization (e.g. the Small Business Administration), or a part of a larger department (e.g. the Federal Bureau of Investigation within the Department of Justice, or Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security).

What to look for:

  1. Select "Prime Award Advanced Search". On the next screen
    -  Enter a keyword for product, service, or competitor in the "Search Term" box, and,
    -  Just below "Basic Criteria" select the box "Contracts".
    -  Then click "Search".
  2. Now, try a search on a competitor you discovered has a GSA Schedule. You'll see not only their GSA Schedule sales...but all the OTHER business they closed using other contract vehicles!
  3. Pick a contract you might like to win the next time around.  Click through all the underlined data, and try out the sort fields, to discover the detail provided.  Government typically buys more of what they're already using.  If you work backwards from contract expiry dates, you can estimate when new contracts might be competed.
  4. Try exporting the data -- top right side of the screen, choose the option to export in Excel format, so you or your team can work with the data after download.

What next? Check the list of expiring contracts against forecasts -- What do your target agencies plan to spend next year? (Hint: Check out my blog lesson on working with federal forecasts.)

Mon, 11/19/2012 - 5:00am

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