RFP-EZ – a new way for the government to do contracting?

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.

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Positives?

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.

Potential Negatives?

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.

Final Verdict?

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.

For more information:

– https://rfpez.sba.gov/faq

–  http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/01/03/fitara-isnt-a-panacea-for-government-it-contracting

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