FedBizOpps will be sole source of solicitation info

FedBizOpps will be sole source of solicitation info

'We hope it will be used not only for posting information, but as a transaction and a proposal submission portal.'
'INDUSTRY ADVISORY COUNCIL'S BILL PIATT

The federal government will complete the first step in making procurement a one-stop electronic process on Jan. 1, when FedBizOpps.gov becomes the only comprehensive federal online source for listing and finding solicitations.

And if members of the Procurement Executives Council get their way, it will be an integral part of a comprehensive online procurement system.

The PEC wants the Integrated Acquisition Initiative, which is one of the 23 e-government projects the Office of Management and Budget is promoting, to include the online solicitation portal as well as a centralized contractor reporting system, electronic-transaction system and electronic vendor catalogs.

'FedBizOpps is a great start, and it gives us an opportunity to explore how we can move toward greater e-gov and e-commerce,' one PEC member said. 'The next generation is to tie them all together and create an e-marketplace with FedBizOpps being the gateway to most of these activities.'

No more paper CBD

Until Jan. 1, agencies will list solicitations at both www.FedBizOpps.gov and the Commerce Business Daily Net, at cbdnet.

access.gpo.gov. But beginning in 2002, CBDNet no longer will receive new information from agencies, making FedBizOpps the lone comprehensive federal online source of procurement information. The final paper copy of the CBD will be published Jan. 4, said T.C. Evans, a Government Printing Office spokesman.

Some parts of the integrated acquisition project already are under way. The PEC is developing standards to integrate finance and procurement systems. It also has started re-engineering the Federal Procure-ment Data System, the central repository for all procurement data, run by the General Services Administration.

Like many of the e-gov projects, however, the future of FedBizOpps is unclear, especially when it comes to money.

'The PEC would like to have some say in how these tools will be automated and linked,' said the PEC member, who asked not to be named. 'There are a lot of directions we could take FedBizOpps, and it is just a matter of deciding whether we take it there or if industry can solve some things.'

Bill Piatt, chairman of the Industry Advisory Council's e-government shared interest group, said FedBizOpps is an important tool for the contracting community.

'As it grows over time, we hope it will be used not only for posting information, but as a transaction and a proposal submission portal,' said Piatt, a former CIO of GSA who now works as director of public-sector e-government strategies for Booz, Allen and Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va. 'It is as robust as Amazon.com, relative to the amount of traffic it receives, so the key will be in its execution.'

More upgrades planned

GSA worked with Science Applications International Corp. and Information Sciences Corp. of Silver Spring, Md., for the last year to upgrade the portal to handle the volume of contracts listed on the site. The portal lets agencies list presolicitation notices, solicitations, amendments, modifications and contract awards.

In the future, the site will include a list of interested parties for each contract, online training on how to use the portal, and improved user statistics such as the number of contracts listed by one contracting office or bureau in an agency.

GSA spent $4 million in 2001 on enhancements, labor, hardware, hosting and maintenance, said Stuart Dvorkin, GSA's FedBizOpps program manager.

'The system is stable, and we've got 56 agencies online,' said Mary Mitchell, program executive for e-gov policy at GSA. 'This was a pretty mature pilot, and we were pretty confident it could handle the load.'

GSA bought two additional Sun Microsystems Enterprise 420 R servers running Solaris 8 to handle the influx of data. It also added three full-time employees to the help desk.

Dvorkin said FedBizOpps' search engine was upgraded to Verity K2 Version 3.1 from Verity Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., to allow quicker searches. The front end of the portal also will be given a cleaner appearance and will let users search agencies more easily, Dvorkin added.

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