By NEIL GORDON
The new SAM database is being touted as an optimally streamlined data resource that will bring greater efficiency and result in significant cost savings. SAM will eventually consolidate nine online government databases into one system. Phase 1 includes the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). These stand-alone legacy systems will be shut down as they are added to SAM.
The public can search for information on contractors and grantees without having to log in or register for a SAM account, although registration is required if you want to save your searches. Information that was previously publicly available in the legacy systems will now be publicly accessible in SAM. Sadly, this means contractor past performance data will still be off-limits.
The SAM architecture was designed by IBM (with assistance by Northrop Grumman) under a $74.4 million contract awarded in early 2010, but the genesis of the project – the idea of an Integrated Acquisition Environment (IAE) – dates back to 2001. For the GSA, getting to this point has not been easy. A lack of funding, coupled with the dramatic rise in costs (from $96 million to $181 million), forced GSA to delay SAM’s Phase 1 roll-out and scale back its ambition for future phases. In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned the GSA to reevaluate SAM to determine whether it is still the most cost-effective IAE alternative.
We encourage you to poke around the SAM database. Let us know what you think. If you need help, the GSA has posted a 350-page user’s guide here.