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Market intelligence developed by secret handshakes available via subscription!

Sunday, November 17, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake (
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Psst! Want the inside track on the next big deal coming out of this federal agency? Just purchase this subscription and you'll get access to all the things you need to know to close the deal, guaranteed! Even if the stuff we put up on our subscriber only web portal might land us and our contacts in jail, we're making it available for a select crowd. Are you in?

Tell me the truth. Do you envision getting access to the kind of information that could make or break deals in federal contracting even if at the risk of someone's livelihood or freedom? If you do, consider this. Everyone else that purchases that subscription has access to it also, so you're effectively back here you started!

If my colorful introduction seems exaggerated, it isn't. There are folks out there who believe this to be the case and some of those selling these services who would have you believe this to be the case. I have been in meetings hosted by Government and Industry where I have seen and heard attendees pose questions challenging information presented by industry experts and/or government officials, based on information delivered via the market information/intelligence subscription of the day. Apparently to some of these folks, the actual source(s) of the information is/are not as credible as their subscription service.

In the meantime, there are some interesting discussions taking place online on the subject of tools like GovWin, Bloomberg, Onvia, Centurion and others, as well as, and my favorite, the Federal Procurement Data System Next Generation (FPDS-NG).

Here's my response in one of the discussions when someone posted that it was "critical" to use one of the paid subscription services for the analysis they provide:

"I respectfully but fervently disagree with your statement that the information/intelligence provided by these subscriptions is critical. Yes, the information itself is absolutely critical, but please tell me what insight or relationships these organizations have that makes their analysis any better than yours or mine or some of the other professionals responding to this thread? No offense to any of those services but I maintain the key advantage to them is consolidation and in some cases presentation. If I knew the folks assessing the information at these organizations had substantive "boots on the ground" federal sector experience, the true key to assessing information like this, then I might change my tune a bit.

Additionally, if a contractor/vendor operates in any of the many niches of this industry, these services quite frankly are information overkill or in some cases, a complete miss. For example, for companies operating in the space where transactions are ad hoc versus long-range planned or recurring, and a BPA, IDIQ, FSS, GWAC or other established contract vehicle will not be used, only those services channeling or similar will capture [some of] these opportunities. I say some of the opportunities since not all of them are subject to synopsis and in addition to the billions obligated via micropurchase which are off the and FPDS-NG radar, the US Government also obligated billions that was not on the radar but are logged in FPDS-NG. Better than $2 billion for FY13 in fact.

Generally speaking, those services providing historical and forecast perspectives tend to focus on actions that are buys against established contract vehicles or buys that will result in an established contract vehicle being stood up. For the record, there were more dollars obligated in FY13 (currently $15B more) to definitive contracts and purchase orders (open market standalone contracts) than to established contract vehicles. These standalone contracts are typically ignored or viewed as "table scraps" not worth pursuing. Also, most of these were either: Competed Under Simplified Acquisition Procedures; Full and Open Competition or Full and Open Competition After Exclusion of Sources.

The best source of that information is the Government (FPDS-NG for historical and assumptive forecasting) and the
best analysts are the people doing the work with relationships at the agencies, or those that have."

Another major issue with companies using these fee-based services is the widely-held belief the information is gospel and needs no additional clarification or validation. This could not be further from the truth. At best, just as the case would be if you acquired information without subscriptions, you still need to connect the dots as it relates to your organization. If you are not "working" the information you collect (regardless of the source), you are wasting your time and money.

Do subscription services have better and more timely information? What's your opinion? Feel free to post it here or you can write me at



The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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