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Government Contractors

Will RFP-EZ Change the Future of Small Dollar Procurements?

In December 2012, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a pilot program to test a new request for proposal (RFP) system to streamline the process through which the government buys web design and related technology services from small businesses. The program, RFP-EZ, is one of five pilot programs sponsored by the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, which pairs innovators from the private sector, non-profits and academia with problem solvers in the federal government, to tackle projects that will encourage job creation, save money and improve how the federal government serves the public.

Project RFP-EZ, which is scheduled to run from December 28, 2012 to May 1, 2013, was designed to aid small businesses in entering the federal marketplace and to improve the overall efficiency of acquisitions under $150,000 for government agencies and small businesses. For more than ten years, Federal Business Opportunities, also known as FedBizOpps, has served as the single source for government postings of solicitations over $25,000. FedBizOpps has significantly enhanced access to information on government acquisitions by posting notices, solicitations, and other related acquisition information in a single location. Potential offerors can use the system to search for business opportunities that best meets their capabilities, and government buyers are able to streamline the preparation and issuance of notices and solicitation information.

While FedBizOpps has allowed for significant advancement over paper-based processes, it does not address a number of functionalities that could further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal acquisition process for both sellers and buyers. This limitation is especially problematic for small businesses, including start-up small businesses considering the federal marketplace (new entrants), and those that are non-traditional government contractors. All of these businesses are potentially challenged by the complexity the various applicable rules governing federal contracting and information on upcoming acquisitions.

RFP-EZ is a suite of open source web-based applications that are designed to make it easier for small businesses that have historically not done business with the federal government, to discover and submit proposals on small dollar contracting opportunities in the federal marketplace that match their strengths. RFP-EZ is designed to reduce burdens and improve efficiency for contracting and program offices looking for low-cost, high-impact solutions from these sources. RFP-EZ has been developed to enable new efficiencies within the existing regulatory framework for conducting small dollar purchases.

Under RFP-EZ, agencies will identify individual procurements valued at or below $150,000 that can be set aside for small businesses to test a suite of functional tools for: (1) simplifying the development of statements of work; (2) improving agency access to information about small businesses; (3) enabling small businesses to submit quotes, bids or proposals electronically in response to a solicitation posted on FedBizOpps; (4) enhancing efficiencies for evaluating proposals; and (5) improving how information (including prices paid by federal agencies) is captured and stored.

There are only a few solicitations currently listed in RFP-EZ, but more are supposed to follow over the next few weeks. Small businesses interested in exploring these opportunities and participating in the pilot program should go to https://rfpez.sba.gov/ to register and create a profile. Upon the conclusion of the pilot program, the feedback and evaluations received will be used to determine if RFP-EZ should be integrated with FedBizOpps and SAM (the System for Award Management). Cherry Bekaert is ready to help with any questions you might have on responding to government solicitations and in preparing your proposal.