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

Apatsara/Shutterstock.com

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 FBO.gov, 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/Shutterstock.com)

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