By Carol L. O’Riordan
The federal government is beginning the launch of its new System for Award Management, known briefly as SAM. This is an attempt by the government to combine nine currently separate federal procurement systems and databases into one, in order to make life easier for government contractors and for the agencies that contract with them.
SAM is being activated in several phases, and the first phase is scheduled to take effect shortly, at the latest by June.
Once SAM is in place, the General Services Administration says, one user ID and password will permit a government contractor or a potential government contractor to register to do business with the government, to self-certify as a small business if appropriate, and to view business opportunities with the government.
The registration, certification, and needed representations about small business status, veteran-owned status, and the like, will now be part of a unified, simplified, and streamlined process. Data entry will be divided into three logical groupings: Core data (such as name and address, and financial information); assertions (such as the company’s size and industry classification) and optional information; and representations and certifications (including the Federal Acquisition Regulation questionnaire). Users will only enter the information in one place.
If this program works as planned, we think it would be a significant boon to government contractors, especially small businesses that have had to spend a lot of time filling out forms that can be duplicative. It can also help ensure that government agencies are spending their time in a useful manner rather than trying to get seemingly endless sets of data from contractors that in many cases duplicate information that the government already has.
But like many efforts to streamline government contracting, SAM can encounter unexpected pitfalls. It has already seen delays that have led to its being rolled out several months late.
As the system evolves, we can help you figure out the ins and outs of SAM and of the complexities of GSA-mandated procedures in general.