Government Contracting Made Easier Thanks to SAM
If you’ve ever tried to work your way through the federal procurement systems to try to win a government contract, you know how complicated it can be. Now, thanks to a new user-friendly website called the System for Award Management (SAM), it’s about to get easier. The initial phase of SAM, which launched on July 30, combines several systems used in the federal procurement and awards system including the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), into a single streamlined tool. Future phases of SAM will add the capabilities of other systems as well.
How SAM Streamlines Processes for Easier Registration
In the past, you had to have an account with a separate login and password for each of these systems. Now, with the launch of SAM, you can access a single account to input all of the required data about your company which allows for seamless contract awarding and payment. This is a great help to small businesses who don’t have the staff or time to manage and master multiple systems, especially when the penalty for a mistake is either non-compliance or non-payment, or both. What’s important to understand is that SAM does not replace any of the required registration systems or databases; rather, it is an umbrella site that facilitates easier access to these various government data repositories.
Another key element of the SAM conversion that’s a real plus is the “one-stop-shop” for help. If you need assistance with any of the SAM systems or procedures contact the official help desk for SAM which is listed on the SAM Home Page, Federal Service Desk. In addition, the SAM website has user guides and videos to help you get started. This is much better than searching through different websites trying to get your questions answered.
Here is a closer look at the systems included in SAM:
If you want your bids/proposals to be compliant and if you want to get paid by the government for your work, you must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration database (CCR), a part of the Business Partner Network (BPN). If you are interested in learning about the CCR in greater detail and the regulations that govern the CCR, you can view the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), in particular, FAR Subpart 4.11. If you already had access to an account in FedReg, you need to migrate your FedReg account before you can edit that record in SAM.
Note: You should register in SAM regardless of your CCR status. If you have a current CCR registration you want to update or if you need to create a new CCR registration, your pathway is now through SAM.
Vendors must maintain their CCR records annually. Section K of federal government- issued Request for Proposals (RFP) is where a vendor can certify various business related information that can be helpful to winning government contracts such as small business or women-owned status. Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) replaces most of the paper-based Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs) in Section K of solicitations with an online application. If you would like to learn more about how ORCA was established and the regulations concerning it, visit FAR 52.204-8.
The Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), now also under the SAM umbrella, is a database of individuals and entities ineligible to take part in certain transactions with the Federal government. The EPLS contains, among other things, suspensions, debarments, statutory ineligibility determinations and other program exclusions. It allows you to quickly search to ensure that a vendor you might want to team with is not excluded from doing business with the government. If you had previously had exclusions listed in EPLS, you need to migrate your EPLS account under SAM.
SAM is also where government buyers will go to check you out so make sure that your records are complete and up-to-date and that you accurately state your company’s information, capabilities and products and services.
For more information on government contracting, visit openforum.com/government contracting.
Doña Storey is the American Express OPEN Advisor on Procurement and through her experiences as an active woman-owned small business contractor, she lends her expertise to help small businesses navigate the procurement maze and find success.