Making Procurement Better: RFP-EZ
by Sean Greene, SBA Official Created: February 4, 2013, 12:10 pm
Note: This post is authored by SBA’s Presidential Innovation Fellows – Clay Johnson, Jed Wood, and Adam Becker.
This past summer, our team of Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs) was challenged by this Administration to—in the span of six months—make it easier for small businesses to sell to the Federal government, and for the Federal government to buy technology from the private sector. Just a few weeks ago, working with our colleagues at the Small Business Administration (SBA), we launched the first iteration of an experiment we think will help make that goal a reality: RFP-EZ.
Early on in our project, we discovered that selling to government and government making purchases are two different problems with two unique audiences. The former required us to make it easier to discover new contracts and simplify the bidding process. The latter required streamlining the creation of requests for proposals (RFPs), review of bids, and improved capacity for market research.
On one side of the equation, small businesses need tools that make it easier to discover and compete for opportunities. On the other side, government contracting officers (who make purchasing decisions) need tools that streamline their work and ensure they can effectively weigh their options. The RFP-EZ system is a start at addressing both sides of the equation.
If you’re a web designer or developer, see for yourself. Check out the current RFP-EZ projects and bid on one. You can probably find and bid on a government contract in less than 10 minutes.
For contracting or program officers in government, we’ve streamlined the process of building an RFP. For example, the system has a feature inside of it called SOWComposer, which allows government contracting officers to easily share statements of work (SOWs)—just like developers can share open source code on websites like GitHub. This allows contracting officers to collaborate on templates and share best practices, so they don’t need to reinvent the wheel along with each new procurement. And finally, with RFP-EZ, bids come in all in one place, where they are easily sortable so that contracting officers and program offices can figure out which ones are the best ones.
The best part? RFP-EZ is built entirely as an open source platform. It’s built in a PHP framework called Laravel and if you’re a developer, you can check out the source code on GitHub. And, if you’re a state or local government, this means there’s now a freely available procurement marketplace available for you to acquire and deploy.
Since its launch just a few weeks ago, more than 200 businesses have signed up to bid, and many of them are completely new to government contracting. RFP-EZ has the potential to save taxpayers substantial amounts of money, improve services by giving government greater access to better technology, and create more jobs by making government more accessible to small businesses—that’s the promise of RFP-EZ.
As an added bonus, if you’re considering applying for the next round in the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program, you’re actually going to use this modified version of RFP-EZ to do it –and all of the tools on the back-end will help PIF project sponsors to better analyze the applicant pool.
We’re excited about RFP-EZ, and whether you’re a developer looking for code, a small business looking to sell, or a government office looking to buy—we think you should be too.
Clay Johnson, Jed Wood, and Adam Becker are Presidential Innovation Fellows working on RFP-EZ at the Small Business Administration.