RFP-EZ is a “web-based application that is comprised of five different systems (SOWComposer, BidMaker, BidMonitor, RFP-EZ Marketplace, and Portfolio Browser), all meant to make it easier for small businesses to sell their services to government buyers, and for contracting officers to buy small dollar value services” (https://rfpez.sba.gov/faq). It was launched by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.
RFP-EZ seeks to make it easier for “innovative startups to easily access the federal government marketplace and the Federal government to secure better and less expensive products and services” (https://rfpez.sba.gov/faq). The SOWComposer offers a SOW template that is easy for the government to edit. The BidMaker allows companies to respond online and ask questions. The BidMonitor shows information about proposals previously received. The RFP-EZ Marketplace notifies companies when new bids are put out and the Portfolio Browser allows agencies to find a list of small businesses that have already done work for the government.
At this stage, RFP-EZ is only available for small businesses to use though their website though it does say that RFP-EZ could expand its scope after this pilot program. At this stage, procurements must also be posted in FedBizOpps after being posted in RFP-EZ, though the design team is working on allowing this to happen automatically. While this is a worthy program, we would recommend that more of a feature be developed to do broad bid analysis as explained in this Sunlight Foundation blog post about IT contracting (http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/01/03/fitara-isnt-a-panacea-for-government-it-contracting/). In addition, it is not clear if more competition for contracts is a positive development as the government currently has to be legally justified in accepting or denying all contracting bids.
There are some definite improvements to the contracting system within RFP-EZ that could help to be incorporated into a new contract system. Research is still pending on whether RFP-EZ increases the amount of small businesses applying for contracts or reduces the time spend developing SOWs. RFP-EZ does seem to be a step in the right direction in improving contracting.
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