Anyone involved with government contract administration can attest to the staggering number of online systems used by the government to support vendor-related functions, such as business registration, small business subcontracting, past performance and contracting opportunities. Simply keeping track of all the usernames, passwords and registration renewal dates is a test of organizational skills and discipline.
Using a typical government lease as an example, a business might register on FBO to identify specific opportunities, obtain a DUNS number, then register in CCR, then register in ORCA and then register in ESRS. Each system requires a separate username and password combination and has different registration, renewal and reporting requirements. GSA has long recognized has recognized the inefficiencies of the current approach to procurement and vendor management and has undertaken a major overhaul, which will be rolled out in 4 phases. This new system is called “SAM”, or System for Award Management.
The official implementation of Phase 1 will take place later this month. On May 29th, the CCR, ORCA, FedReg, and EPLS will disappear. They will be centralized into one system, which will require ONE username and ONE password. The functions covered by Phase 1 relate to business entity registration and certifications. Phase 2, expected sometime in late 2013, will eliminate ESRS, WDOL, CFDA and the venerable FBO, wrapping their functionality into SAM. Phases 3 and 4 will eliminate FPDS and PPIRS and consolidate these data and past-performance functions into SAM.
The purpose of SAM is to consolidate multiple procurement related data systems into a single platform. This is not a portal with links to existing systems, but an entirely new system unto itself. Eleven websites will be reduced to one. On paper, this sounds like a great idea. In practice, we have learned that a wait-and-see posture is most prudent. We will be in a better position to comment on its practical effectiveness once we have had the opportunity to give it a test-drive.
UPDATE: GSA announced that the implementation date for SAM has been moved to the end of July.