What is FPDS?
The Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation or FPDS is a government website that gives unprecedented real-time access to government spending patterns. The system is free to access and only requires you to create an account. The beauty of a system like this is that it allows contractors to look at past contract actions to determine the propensity and viability of doing business with the government. A quick search can tell you if the government is spending money on what you sell, how much they are spending on it, who the top agencies are that are buying what you sell, and who your competition and best teaming partners are.
What gets reported to FPDS?
Government contracts, BPA’s, IDIQ’s, etc. that have an estimated value of $3,000 or more as well as every modification to the contract. Keep this in mind when you are searching the system because you will often find multiple “actions” on a particular contract. This does not mean a new contract has been issued. It simply means that some sort of contract “action” has occurred. Contracting actions are updated on a daily basis to FPDS.
FPDS does not track or have report data available for the following: Grants, FEDSTRIP’s, MILSTRIP’s, GSA stock and GSA consolidated purchase programs, and government purchase card purchases under the micro-purchase threshold.
3 Ways FPDS can help you win government contracts.
1. Determine if government contracting is a viable option for your company. If you are already in government contracting, this point is not for you. But if you are thinking of pursuing government contracts, this is the most important point for you. Before you spend months pursuing government programs, certifications, or getting a GSA schedule, you need to do some research. The first thing you need to research is the market viability of selling what you offer to the government. Many times people just assume that the government does or does not want what they have to sell. The only way to know this is to pull the reports from FPDS. You will first need NAICS codes. NAICS codes are the North American Industry Classification System codes for every industry and service. These are standard codes that the government uses to look up vendors who sell what you sell. If you don’t know your NAICS code/s you can Google the word NAICS code and the term you want a code for. Once you pull the report in FPDS, you will quickly be able to identify if the government is buying what you sell and how much they are spending on it annually. This will give you a lot of insight into whether you should pursue government contracting or not.
2. Use FPDS to identify all agencies that are buying what you sell. One of the easiest ways to search data in the system is by NAICS code. This allows you to target your specific product or service and to pull detailed reports by what you sell. Once you do a search on your NAICS code, you can download this data into an Excel spreadsheet and sort the data. Once you have the data, you will want to look at the “Contracting Agency” field. This is the list of agencies that are buying what you sell. Once you identify who is buying what you sell, you can now develop a strategy for how you are going to approach them as well as start to target them on sites like Fed Biz Ops and other government procurement websites.
3. Formulate your strategy. Once you have all of the information in items 1-4, you can start to form your strategy. At RSM Federal, we recommend that you have an overall strategy for how you will approach the government in general and then micro strategies for how you approach different agencies. Understand that not all agencies buy the same way and that there are many opportunities that you need to be aware of. For example, the Defense Logistics Agency or DLA, has a system called DIBBS that it uses for many purchases under 100K. These opportunities only show up on the DIBBS system and are very important to watch for anyone who is servicing logistics type items such as fasteners, cabling, tools, etc. They also have MRO contracts. These are Maintenance, Repair and Operations contracts that are awarded by region periodically and something you will want to watch for if DLA is your target customer. Watching for specific contracts and bid opportunities like this would fall under your micro strategy.
Whether you are working on your main strategy or micro strategies, the FPDS system can be a valuable tool for you to use to gather market intelligence. We recommend checking FPDS every 3 to 6 months depending on your industry. This will allow you to stay on top of trends and allow you to make changes to your strategy on an ongoing basis.
A word of caution. Various government watchdog groups and consulting firms have suggested that FPDS can be off by as much as a billion dollars at any given time. What you really need to know is that human beings are entering the data and from time to time make mistakes. The reports that you pull are only as good as the data that was entered so just understand that the data can be off at any given time. That is one of the main reasons we suggest you check the site frequently.
Also beware that many government systems and bi-matching services pull their data from FPDS. In many cases, consultants charge thousands of dollars for the same data that you can access for free via FPDS. So buyer beware…
To create an account or learn more about FPDS, check out https://www.fpds.gov.