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Don’t Get Scammed Just Because You Want to Get Into SAM

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Don’t Get Scammed Just Because You Want to Get Into SAM

By Stephen Morris, SBA Official
Published: December 5, 2012

 

You can count on it, just like clockwork: when a new federal program or interface or system is put in place, someone is going to try to squeeze some extra cash out of people who want to use it. 

Here at SBA HQ, we’ve heard recently of attempts to do just that to people who want to register their small businesses in the new SAM database.  SAM stands for System for Award Management. 

SAM, which is being developed in phases – the first was released in July 2012 – is changing the way you do business by consolidating nine separate and distinct federal systems into one, thus allowing companies to use one login to access all the capabilities previously found in the nine separate legacy systems.  Among the systems it’s replacing is the Central Contractor Registration, or CCR, a database where companies that want to do business with the government register. 

It wasn’t long before the questions started bubbling up. One of the first was “Does it really cost $599.00 to register for SAM?”

SBA field offices and resource partners – such as the Procurement Assistance Center at the Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center – started hearing several reports over the past few months that their small business clients were being contacted by firms offering to get them set up in SAM for a fee of $500 to $599.

As Roxanne K. Mutchler, the Government Contracting Coordinator at the Mohawk Valley SBDC pointed out recently to some of these clients: “Please make your current and future clients aware that these are private, for-profit businesses that will charge the client for registering their business.  There is no cost to register at the new SAM website! We can assist them with the process for FREE!”   

The real SAM website is: https://www.sam.gov/. Always look for the “.gov” after “SAM” in the URL address. Private, for-profit businesses will not have the “.gov” suffix.  Even if a site looks a lot like a federal government website, don’t be fooled. Without the .gov ending, it isn’t. 

A couple of good places for helpful info about getting into the SAM database are the User’s Guide issued by the General Services Administration, and the SAM FAQ. Both of these are in a PDF format, so you can download them easily to your own desktop.  You can access many more online aids at the SAM website by clicking on the “Help” button and “User Guides.”

One caution: Some people have been unable to reach the new SAM site.  Mohawk Valley’s Mutchler recommends changing one computer setting: In your Internet Explorer browser, go to “Tools” then “Internet Options” then “Advanced” and put a check mark at “Use TLS 1.0” (it’s down near the bottom). 

Another caution: Don’t get sucked into paying for something that’s free, and for which you can get free help from a Small Business Development Center in your area. Find one here. All you need is a zip code.

About the Author:

Stephen Morris

SBA Official

Stephen Morris is online media coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration where he manages digital outreach to the small business community.

Comments:

You are absolutely right. As soon as I registered with SAM I received at least three emails of three different solicitors making use of aggressive language, borderline case of deceptive practice - imposter nearly posing as a government procurement, urging me to contact them or else. The tones and language are also a red flag. I really wonder how they make a living and survive. I am a former statistician. They won't get my reaction, but I think I am the rough top 5%, who do not fall for it, unfortunately. As far as being assisted by the SBDC or SAM's support line, I only have good things to say. I asked and I have got immediate attention and professional assistance that resolved my question completely to my satisfaction. And for me it was not that complicated at all to register with SAM, SBA, D&B and FBO. And I have all that documented in details.
As a federal contracting consultant with years of experience, I find this information to be somewhat disheartening. The firm I work for does offer a "package" for renewal and optimization of the SAM registration. Countless clients of mine have very little that is positive to say about the free, process oriented "assistance" they have gotten from the SBA and PTAC offices. They get tired of waiting and waiting on hold, they get tired of getting brushed off to get to the next caller of person in line. What I find funny, is that there is so much uproar about letting everyone know how they can do their SAM registration for free, but no mention at all about the importance of registering in the Dynamic Small Business Search (Linked with SAM) - The search engine government buyers use to identify vendors for small business purchases, especially when factoring in set-asides and other valuable criteria that can reduce or eliminate competition. SAM is how you get paid and how you are eligible. The DSBS is how you are found by contracting officers and prime contractors and is an essential part of the SAM process for anyone who actually wants to generate business. Yet this system has not been brought up once, and it is HOSTED BY THE SBA. Think about that when you are gauging how beneficial these free help offices provide. Do they really care about your firm generating revenue through federal sales?
To reiterate an important point made in the article, no-cost assistance is available to all business interested in registering in SAM (the System for Award Management). Contact a PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) for free help. There are 300 PTAC locations across the country, plus Guam and Puerto Rico. To locate the PTAC nearest you, simply go to http://www.aptac-us.org and click on the map to see names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. PTACs are funded through cooperative agreements between the U.S. Department and Defense (DoD) and state and local non-profit entities to provide a full range of assistance to help businesses identify, compete for, and win government contracts.
I pay a company to do my taxes. Why can't I pay a company to help me register with the SAM system correctly? I run a small business and I do not have the time to learn everything about the registration myself.
If it were only $599, I'd be a lot happier. I paid $1950. At no time did I realize I was NOT dealing directly with SAMS. The company I dealt with are in fact, intermediaries, but that particular fact was not made evident to either me or my wife when we communicated with them. In fact they represented to us that by paying $1950 we would not have to go through normal bidding procedures for projects under $250,000, I suppose that means we are gullible suckers, but we didn't think our government would allow folks to build websites that mimic theirs and on top of that, not requiring them to provide full disclosure. When speaking with one of our government contacts, we were made aware that this fee was not necessary. We followed up with an email to the company asking for clarification about the fee that was never answered. Today we again heard from our government contact, who provided us with a link to this website. I called the company again and was not given any satisfaction at all. In fact, I was given to understand that I should be grateful because of the wonderful benefits my $1950 will bring me. Not happy.
They built a great site for me and helped get me contracts as well. My experience was a good one. My SBA office was the one that I was mad at. They never had time to help me. I am very happy I spent the $1950. It has paid for its self in just 2 months. They never said they were the government and they made me sign a contract that clearly stated who they were. My advice to you is to read your contracts before signing them. I also told my government contact about them and they have sent more contractors to them. They did a great job and I thank them for it.
I have tried going to the SBA for help. I was asked to come back in 2 weeks. I told them I needed to get this done fast so I could bid on a up coming project. They gave me the SAM help desk phone number witch was great till I called and the line was busy. I called for 2 days and no help. I lost the chance to get the contract and now I am trying again. The SBA said they can help me for free. This fee service is for the birds. I dont have time to keep coming back I just want to pay someone to get this done for me. It sounds like there companies that do this. I sure hope so I will pay to get this done. No problem.
Sorry to hear you had difficulties. Please send us an email at websupport @ sba.gov and we can help you connect with additional resources to assist (ie your PTAC)
I am glad I read this article. You have to learn how to look out for the scam artist.
Sorry for the confusion with that. We have updated the page you referenced. We are also planning on revamping the entire government contracting section of SBA.gov in the near future to reflect all of the recent changes (ie moving from CCR to SAM). Thanks!

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