recommended reading

Consultant Lists DHS’ Most (and Least) Annoying Contracting Officers


Bidding on a federal contract can be a chaotic process with requirements always changing and deadlines shifting.

The federal contracting consultants at GovTribe are bringing some more clarity to that process, if not more calm -- and they’re demonstrating the insights that can be culled from open government data at the same time.

On Wednesday, GovTribe launched its Purse String Index, a paid tool that ranks the contracting officers at federal agencies based on how frequently they award contracts, how long the procurement process takes, the average dollar value of the contracts they award and their “annoyance factor.”

In this case, annoying means how often the contracting officer modifies a solicitation after it’s posted and how often he or she changes deadlines.

“We think it’s pretty reasonable to penalize contracting officers for due date changes because that does affect contractors’ bottom line,” GovTribe co-founder Marc Vogtman said.

Vogtman and GovTribe’s two other founders are all former consultants with Deloitte’s federal practice who managed bidding on numerous government contracts. They launched GovTribe in 2012 because they saw huge inefficiencies in the way contracts were advertised and the bidding process that they believed could be fixed by mining open government data, CEO Nate Nash said.

The company’s main product is a mobile app that allows contractors to search for and track solicitations without going to the famously convoluted Federal Business Opportunities website.

GovTribe shared its full purse string index for contracting officers at the Homeland Security Department with Nextgov. You can check it out here.

The index, which is built with publicly available contracting information from, grades anyone listed as the main point of contact for a DHS solicitation during the past five years. That means some of the roughly 1,100 names listed in the index may be contractors working on specific projects rather than full-time DHS contracting personnel, Vogtman cautioned, especially names that are only responsible for a single solicitation. Many of the points of contact may also have titles other than contracting officer, he said.

Even including only people responsible for numerous contracts, though, the index shows a huge variance in contracting officers’ average number of modifications from less than two to more than 14. Most contracting officers average in the mid-single digits, according to the index.

The average number of due date changes varies less, with only a handful of people who worked on multiple contracts averaging more than one.

GovTribe weighed all the factors in their index using a proprietary algorithm to produce a purse string score between zero and five. Any score above one is above average, Nash said.

Nash and Vogtman didn’t disclose details of the algorithm but said it takes into account that higher value solicitations are likely to be more complex and to require more modifications. For paying clients, the team will further refine agency indexes, they said, for instance by limiting them to relevant categories of solicitations.

“Imagine this like the stats on the back of a baseball card,” Nash said. “It will give you some indication of the player’s performance and if you combine those stats with other indicators it will give you more insight into the potential return on investment of submitting a proposal.”

(Image via Apatsara/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.