America’s small information technology firms are some of the most innovative in the world. They are nimble, creative and can get the job done. And thanks to a new online government platform, it is getting easier for them to address some of the Federal Government’s most pressing IT needs. It’s a win-win: Small technology companies get easier access to the Federal Government’s nearly $77 billion information technology supply chain, providing a potentially critical revenue stream as they build their operations. And government agencies get to work with innovative small firms with solutions that can help make government agencies more efficient and streamlined.
The catalyst for these connections is an exciting new pilot project called RFP-EZ. And the results we are seeing from this program highlight what is possible when you unleash the power of American entrepreneurs.
RFP-EZ is a new and easy way for companies to learn about and compete for government contracts – in particular, small companies that lack the experience or administrative support generally needed to take full advantage of the Government’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the means by which many government contract offerings are presented to the business community. The RFP-EZ platform was developed jointly by Federal innovators working in the SBA and private-sector entrepreneurs serving temporary stints in the Federal Government through the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, launched by the U.S Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer team last year. Sharing their private- and public-sector insights, the team developed RFP-EZ as a simplified platform aimed at opening up the Government marketplace to a wider range of companies and saving taxpayer money.
Applying agile development principles, the Fellows team designed RFP-EZ over a six-month period, publishing the platform’s code openly on GitHub. The team then launched the pilot by posting five relatively simple website development and database contract offerings, four of which were also announced via the standard government portal, FedBizOps. On a per-project basis, bids received through RFP-EZ were consistently lower than those received through FedBizOps—19% to 41% lower, and over 30% lower on average. Bids made through RFP-EZ also showed less overall variation. In addition, during the pilot period, RFP-EZ attracted more than 270 businesses that until now had never approached the world of Federal contracting.
According to Office of Management and Budget’s IT Dashboard, the Federal Government will spend more than $1.4 billion on Web Infrastructure and Web Content Management Systems in FY 2014. Based on 2011 and 2012 results, we can expect about half of these projects to be under the $150,000 “Simplified Acquisition Threshold” that would make them eligible for contracting through RFP-EZ. As we refine and expand the use of RFP-EZ, we are confident that its success will grow, delivering better value for taxpayers and opening new opportunities for small businesses.
Leveraging feedback we received from entrepreneurs and Federal contracting officers, the next class of Presidential Innovation Fellows will begin work on version 2.0 of RFP-EZ, which will focus on improving the platform, scaling its initial results across the Federal Government, and adding innovative new capabilities. If your business would like to participate, we encourage you to get started by setting up a profile on RFP-EZ today. To all the businesses that submitted proposals through RFP-EZ and everyone who has given us feedback on the project, thank you for helping to bring this new capability to life – and we very much look forward to the path ahead.
Karen G. Mills is Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Todd Park is US Chief Technology Officer