By Jon Olsen, KY APEX Accelerator Senior Procurement Consultant
This article was originally published in our monthly KY APEX Accelerator Newsletter. If you have any questions about this topic, your KY APEX Accelerator consultant is here to help! Not a client? Sign up here.
In consulting with our many clients, one of our responsibilities is assisting clients in identifying agencies or organizations that may potentially procure the products or services manufactured or provided by the client. This information is utilized in developing a marketing plan for the client to target specific agencies with more potential for procuring their goods or services. What is market research? The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 2 defines market research as “collecting and analyzing information about capabilities within the market to satisfy agency needs.” Additionally, the Federal Government policy in FAR Part 10 is to “conduct market research to arrive at the most suitable approach to acquiring, distributing, and supporting supplies and services.” This is to aid agencies in determining the government’s needs, any trade-offs, industry-specific information, sources of the product or service needed, commercial availability, socio-economic variables that may apply and other information important in establishing the solicitation methodology. Who does market research? Government acquisition and technical personnel will use market research techniques and tools to accomplish the government’s overall policies and ensure they procure the best product or service available to satisfy agency needs. Federal staff will typically use tools such as FPDS-NG, SAM.gov, DSBS or other resources at GSA, including e-Library or GSA Advantage, to conduct their research. These and other tools are also available to the public to perform the same type of research necessary in developing a government marketing plan. Why is market research valuable? Last month’s newsletter article briefly mentioned the importance of market research in obtaining government contracts. It is important in developing a marketing plan and capture strategy for government opportunities and to maintain an awareness of which agencies purchase the goods and services of your company and how they purchase them. Market research should focus on identifying the following:
Agencies that purchase the product or service provided by your company
Agency points of contact (both procurement and technical)
Other agency personnel, such as Small Business Advisors or Managers (OSDBU or OSBP)
Past purchase history (quantities/volume, pricing info, frequency of purchase, etc.)
Other competitive information
What are some standard tools used for government market research? SAM – The System for Award Management is the government portal for posting available Contract Opportunities over $25,000.00. It contains “Entity Information,” which may help identify potential competitors or partners for subcontracting opportunities. FPDS – Federal Procurement Data System is the Federal Government’s repository of contract award information for contract actions over $10,000.00 in value. There is an “ezSearch” feature to search by keywords for relevant award information. The report includes both the initial award and any modifications against the awards. DSBS – Dynamic Small Business Search is a U.S. Small Business Administration database tied to SAM.gov for updates. This is a searchable database of small businesses registered in SAM that may be searched for potential competitive information or for potential partners or subcontractors. GSA – The U.S. General Services Administration is a primary federal agency with purchasing responsibilities for supplies, equipment, services, and buildings/property for use government-wide. GSA has an online “eLibrary” and an on-line purchasing tool, “GSA Advantage,” to assist federal agencies in streamlining their acquisition processes. These resources may be utilized in researching various information for market research purposes. USASpending.gov – This is “the official open data source of federal spending information” (Government Spending Open Data | USAspending) and includes information about contract and grant awards and loans. The system has a variety of filters and other search features to obtain information and resources to “Explore the Data” and download pertinent information as needed. Also available are reference materials about federal spending and other topics. GovSpend – This multi-database research tool is available to clients through the KY APEX Accelerator. This tool includes search features for both federal and state/local awards and opportunities. Additional information is available through your KY APEX Accelerator consultant. DIBBS – DLA Internet Bid Board System is a website with search capabilities for opportunities issued through the Defense Logistics Agency for items of supply for distribution to all military services. The system contains open opportunities, award information and other resources for doing business with DLA entities. Agency OSDBU / OSBP Forecasts – Many federal agencies have offices established that assist businesses in doing business with the respective agency. These are known as OSDBUs (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization) or OSBPs (Office of Small Business Programs). In addition to assisting small businesses in contracting with the agency, these offices also collect information about upcoming opportunities and develop agency-specific forecasts of opportunities, which are then published on the respective agency’s website. These are some of the many tools and opportunities available to companies interested in entering the government marketplace and discovering a source of increased revenues. A wealth of information is available to the public both online and through communications with agency personnel. It may take time, but with some effort and persistence, utilizing these tools should prove helpful in developing a successful government marketing strategy. Your KY APEX Accelerator consultants can assist in these efforts since they understand the best tools to develop specific plans. If you don’t know your assigned consultant, don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or register as a new client on the Kentucky APEX Accelerator Client Portal.