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Making Procurement Better: RFP-EZ

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Making Procurement Better: RFP-EZ

Published: February 4, 2013 Updated: February 4, 2013

 

Note: This post is authored by SBA's Presidential Innovation Fellows - Clay Johnson, Jed Wood, and Adam Becker.
 
This past summer, our team of Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs) was challenged by this Administration to—in the span of six months—make it easier for small businesses to sell to the Federal government, and for the Federal government to buy technology from the private sector. Just a few weeks ago, working with our colleagues at the Small Business Administration (SBA), we launched the first iteration of an experiment we think will help make that goal a reality: RFP-EZ.
 
Early on in our project, we discovered that selling to government and government making purchases are two different problems with two unique audiences. The former required us to make it easier to discover new contracts and simplify the bidding process. The latter required streamlining the creation of requests for proposals (RFPs), review of bids, and improved capacity for market research.
 
On one side of the equation, small businesses need tools that make it easier to discover and compete for opportunities. On the other side, government contracting officers (who make purchasing decisions) need tools that streamline their work and ensure they can effectively weigh their options. The RFP-EZ system is a start at addressing both sides of the equation.
 
If you're a web designer or developer, see for yourself. Check out the current RFP-EZ projects and bid on one. You can probably find and bid on a government contract in less than 10 minutes.
 
For contracting or program officers in government, we've streamlined the process of building an RFP. For example, the system has a feature inside of it called SOWComposer, which allows government contracting officers to easily share statements of work (SOWs)—just like developers can share open source code on websites like GitHub. This allows contracting officers to collaborate on templates and share best practices, so they don’t need to reinvent the wheel along with each new procurement. And finally, with RFP-EZ, bids come in all in one place, where they are easily sortable so that contracting officers and program offices can figure out which ones are
the best ones.
 
The best part? RFP-EZ is built entirely as an open source platform. It's built in a PHP framework called Laravel and if you're a developer, you can check out the source code on GitHub. And, if you're a state or local government, this means there's now a freely available procurement marketplace available for you to acquire and deploy.
 
Since its launch just a few weeks ago, more than 200 businesses have signed up to bid, and many of them are completely new to government contracting. RFP-EZ has the potential to save taxpayers substantial amounts of money, improve services by giving government greater access to better technology, and create more jobs by making government more accessible to small businesses—that’s the promise of RFP-EZ.
 
As an added bonus, if you're considering applying for the next round in the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program, you're actually going to use this modified version of RFP-EZ to do it –and all of the tools on the back-end will help PIF project sponsors to better analyze the applicant pool.
 
We’re excited about RFP-EZ, and whether you’re a developer looking for code, a small business looking to sell, or a government office looking to buy—we think you should be too.
 
Clay Johnson, Jed Wood, and Adam Becker are Presidential Innovation Fellows working on RFP-EZ at the Small Business Administration.
 
To learn more about or apply for the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, please visit: WhiteHouse.gov/InnovationFellows

About the Author:

Sean Greene
Sean Greene is the Associate Administrator for Investment and the Special Advisor for Innovation at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Comments:

The focus on the project is to help streamline the process for simplified IT acquisitions, but I do not necessarily agree that this project improves the federal acquisition process per se. The tools to create simplified acquisitions already exist in the toolkit of procurement professionals, it is their execution that is problematic. I believe Mr. Ledbetter is asking from very poignant questions on the strategy value of the project, which I think has vast opportunities for improvement and expansion to make it easier for small businesses to enter the federal market. Further, the project and its goals can help government buyers focus on outcomes through performance based strategies to acquiring technologies at an affordable price.
Government contracting for small businesses is still a work in progress. Even with performance based contracting mechanisms in place, the solicitations and statements or work still lack the prerequisites. More specifically, bidders still find roadblocks because evaluators still seem to score proposals on RPPs that still look to the the contractor how to meet the end result.
I agree with derrigo.This is a great idea
Great idea!! I'd like to suggest you consider incorporating the option for pre-bid meetings via webinar. At Green Proposals we support small business participation while promoting fairness, equality and transparency into a often complex process. We facilitate virtual meetings on behalf of Government Agencies free of charge. Contractors welcome the chance to participate without unnecessary travel and valuable time away from the office. The nominal fee we charge them includes a replay of the webinar as well as a copy of the electronically generated sign in sheet. It's a win-win for all and additionally contributes to a more efficient and effective way of conducting business.
This is a great idea. However I agree with derrigo! Will there be other catagories and/or projects other than Web development?
This seems like a great technology. However, it seems directed toward website creation and other marketing efforts. Will there be an EZ-Bid section for goods that the government can buy. For example, LumenOptix is an energy efficient lighting manufacturer. Something like this would be perfect for us to become aware of what bids are out there for the government. Thanks in advance and keep up the good work. - David
Congratulations on your valient effort! Thanks for all the hard work. I would love to help you make this project successful. I believe that I can, but, here are some hard questions. 1. Is there training for RFP-EZ or have you made it sufficiently intuitive that anybody can use it? 2. How do you plan to promote the system to contract officers and SB contractors? 3. How are you going to get them to use it? 4. Can a SB use RFP-EZ to respond to any RFP or only the ones that the CO's place in that system? 5. What are the natural incentives to get the various players to change their current behavior and use the new system so that everyone can realize the benefits you have foreseen? I'll be in DC for meetings with the FDA on 2/19-20, if you want to talk about it, I can be available on 2/19. If you don't, then I know you are not really serious about this project.
Is this just for technology companies or can any company participate?
This is great information to know as an employee who is looking to work from home. I also find the comments very helpful as well!!

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