One of the most common places for that contract specialists perform market research is the GSA eLibrary. It can search by the usual key words and GSA Schedules among other methods. Unfortunately, one of the most common methodologies of search in federal procurement — NAICS (North American Classification Code System) Codes — is missing. I see this as a gap in letting businesses be found. Contract specialists know the NAICS Codes of many contractors they work with. It’s a core part of what we have to know when preparing market research and a solicitation. I think it is human nature that people will conduct research with the means they’re most comfortable with. Many contracts specialists are comfortable with NAICS Codes, so let us search with them.
A lack of NAICS Code search in the eLibrary also makes it a little more difficult for contracting officers to exercise options. The most common method of exercising options falls under FAR 17.207(d)(2): The contracting officers makes a determination based on “an informal analysis of prices or an examination of the market indicates that the option price is better than prices available in the market or that the option is the more advantageous offer.” That gives broad discretion to the contracting officer. One way to do this is going into the eLibrary, pulling prices from GSA Schedules, and seeing if the prices are better or if the option is more advantageous to the federal government.
Of course, adding NAICS Codes to the eLibrary is no small feat. Instead of requiring contractors to amend their GSA Schedules, eLibrary could cross its data with the Central Contractor Registration (soon to be a part of the System for Award Management), which maintains this data for federal contractors.
Curious – when do you use GSA eLibrary vs GSA advantage vs USA Spending vs FPDS- seems like lots of similar places having different data
GSA eLibrary has schedule information. GSA Advantage, well I don’t really use it, so I don’t know what it’s used for. I report contract actions to FPDS. I don’t use USA Spending, and I can’t really tell how it’s data is different from USA Spending.
You hit on a common issue in government procurement — there are so many systems and people are expected to just know what they are for and do — but nobody explains them in Plain English.
I think it would be very beneficial and it would allow other businesses not first thought about an opportunity to be considered. With the objective being market research and competition, you now have additional data to consider.