Beta.SAM.gov Has Arrived

Kind of like Disney+ for the federal contracting set, the FedBizOpps replacement went live today, November 12. But the parallels don’t stop there. Similar to the new streaming service’s technical issues, beta.SAM.gov has also experienced technical problems, based on our own experience sampling the site.

As we discussed in a recent post, FBO was not the best-designed website in government. In fact, some called it the worst site in government. The new site should make searching for contracting opportunities easier and more efficient. Unfortunately, the site is currently quite slow to load. In some cases, this meant clicking on the site and then going to make a cup of coffee before it loaded (for those of you who remember dial-up, it won’t feel that slow).

However, once it loads, the site has some useful filtering features such as type of set-aside, place of performance, and NAICS code. At first glance, though, there are some confusing aspects to these new filters.

For one, the place of performance search seems to be limited to zip codes. When I tried to search for a geographic region, such as California or Kansas City, the database did not seem to recognize the input. If that means you have to enter in every zip code in order to search state-wide, that’s a problem.

In addition, the NAICS code feature only allows search by two digit NAICS code category. For example, 23 – Construction, rather than 236220 – Commercial and Institutional Building Construction.

One other thing is that there is no search button at the bottom of the search filters. Rather, it just says Clear All, which is confusing. If the site were responding quickly and filtering rapidly after setting each search filter, that might not be an issue, but if it takes a while to search, it would be easier to set all the filters, and then hit search.

Hopefully, the search speed issues will get corrected promptly, and the site will start running more smoothly. GSA should also look into putting in some more filtering options to make things a little more straightforward for federal contractors. Unlike a streaming service, there aren’t any alternatives to beta.SAM.gov. So contractors will have to get up to speed on this site quickly, despite its initial hiccups.