Giving New Meaning to SAM in Uncle Sam

September 14, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Siloed federal acquisition systems got you down? Are you frustrated with having to remember all your passwords to these sites and entering the same data over and over?

Help is on the way, perhaps as soon as next May. However, grantees should keep in mind that these changes will require some adjustments to their old habits.

Currently there are many federal systems that support the federal acquisition and award process, each with their own logins, overlapping data, and separate hosting and management locations. These systems include many that grant recipients are familiar with, including the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), FedBizOpps.gov and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, as well as several others pertaining to federal acquisition.

The General Services Administration currently is developing the System for Award Management (SAM), which will bring all these systems into one, with one login, combined data, and centralized host. A GSA official speaking at the Maryland Governor’s Grants Conference Sept. 12 said that SAM will include all the capabilities of the legacy systems, presented in a more streamlined, user-friendly way.

The GSA plans to move the current systems in phases, with the first phase scheduled for completion around May 2012, starting with the CCR/FedReg, EPLS and the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA). Others will be integrated in the following years.

However, here’s one key item to remember: Once the integration goes live, users will have a year to continue to use curent website addresses (e.g., http://www.epls.gov) before they will switch to http://www.sam.gov permanently. This may create some confusion at first for grantees that may be unaware of this project. Still, I have to tip my cap to the federal government for taking action to ease some of the burden on grantees and contractors.

What issues and hassles have you faced in working with federal contracting systems? Was registering with CCR difficult? How do you thing streamlining will help? Let us know. An article with more information about this topic will be available in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.

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