GSA’s Central Procurement Hub Will Lose the ‘Beta’ in April

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The legacy SAM.gov will be shuttered and all the capabilities will be folded into the new SAM.gov, which currently goes by beta.SAM.gov.

The registration site for organizations doing business with the federal government will be migrating to the new central website for all procurement systems, allowing the latter to drop the “beta” designation and clear up some confusing nomenclature.

The System for Award Management, currently housed at SAM.gov, is used by federal contractors and grantees to register for the unique number used to identify the organization in official documents—similar to a Social Security number. The site, managed by the General Services Administration, shares a name with the agency’s developing central procurement hub, beta.SAM.gov.

GSA’s Integrated Award Environment program office has been working on consolidating all related procurement tools on a single website since 2018. The effort started with migrating the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA, and Wage Determination Online, or WDOL, tools to beta.SAM, followed by two of the most-used acquisition tools in government.

Fiscal 2020 was bookended by the migrations of the Federal Business Opportunities, also known as FedBizOpps or FBO, site in November 2019 and the reporting functions of the Federal Procurement Data System, or FPDS, in October 2020. The sites allow users to search for open solicitations and contract awards, respectively.

With those transitions finalized, the program office set its sights on the legacy SAM.gov.

All of the functionalities on SAM.gov will be moved to beta.SAM.gov by April 26, at which time the current SAM.gov will be shuttered and beta.SAM.gov will lose the “beta” and become the official registration site.

“While the core data and functionality of the systems aren’t changing, there will be a new look and feel for much of that functionality,” program managers wrote in a post on GSA's Interact site [original emphasis included]. “We will share more information and resources here to help you through the transition.”

Past transitions have not always been smooth. In particular, the federal contracting community was wary in the lead-up to the FBO transition to the Contract Opportunities tab on beta.SAM, followed by disappointing early reviews after the launch.

The IAE program office said they heard those concerns and looked to increase outreach and training for future rollouts.

“It’s very, very hard to get someone to pay attention to the fact that the functionality will be there, but how you use it changes,” Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner for the office of systems management in the Federal Acquisition Service, told Nextgov in September, talking about the FPDS reports transition and the future of beta.SAM.

“This transition aligns with GSA’s commitment to modernize the IAE systems to improve the user experience,” the Interact post states. “We have held focus groups within and outside the government to learn more about what works for our various users, and the changes coming have been planned with their feedback in mind.”

The post also notes there will be opportunities for some users to test the new functionalities before they go live.

The move will also quell some confusion around the dual SAMs.

“A branding specialist would say, ‘What were you thinking?’" Zawatsky said, acknowledging the issue. “A limiting factor that we had for naming conventions was to ensure that when somebody put something into the system and said, ‘Look, contracting officer, I have FAR clause ABC,’ that they were in fact doing that without a big footnote that said, ‘We know this is not what it’s called in the FAR but we’re giving you this information as if it were.’”

After the SAM transition is finalized, the IAE office will continue bringing new tools to the new SAM.gov over the next few years. The final site will include: FBO, under Contract Opportunities; FPDS, under Data Bank; the current SAM.gov; CFDA; WDOL; the Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System, eSRS; the past performance databases, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, FAPIIS, Contractor Performance Assessment Reports System, CPARS, and Past Performance Information Retrieval System, PPIRS; and the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, FFATA.