June 27, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Just like many large businesses, the U. S. Federal Government does an awful lot of procurement, which translates to spending large numbers of dollars. The subject of federal spending on contractors has been a recurring theme in the news for decades. Efforts to curb rampant spending have resulted in measures like the 2011 Budget Control Act, which limits the annual increases in discretionary spending between the years of 2012 and 2021. Even with this restriction, the limit on this type of spending is still in excess of $1 trillion for fiscal year 2016. And let’s be honest. Even with the levels of inflation we’ve seen in our lifetimes, one trillion dollars is a quantity that most of us can’t even really conceive of.
One of the ways that the government attempts to curtail runaway spending on contractors is one that’s also seen in the business world. While federal procurement officers are still able to make discretionary spending choices, they are restricted to obtaining goods and services from what corporations would call an “approved vendor list”. For the government, this takes the form of a registry of contractors with whom procurement officers can do business.
Back in 1994, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act laid the groundwork for setting up, among other things, the Central Contractor Registration, or CCR, which was a storehouse of contractor data, made available to federal procurement officers across all agencies. In 2012, as part of a large, sweeping consolidation effort, the functionality of CCR, along with a number of other systems was rolled into the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to further streamline the entire process. Entry of one’s data into the SAM registration system is a requirement of any business of any size that would like to do business with the Federal Government.
Federal Procurement Officers with a need for any good or service need to ascertain that the vendor they choose is included in the SAM registration system. If you, as a procurement officer, have identified a contractor you’d like to do business with, you’ll need to search for that company in the SAM database. You can conduct a search based on the entity’s name, as well as by their DUNS number or CAGE code. If you have not yet settled on the vendor you’d like to do business with, the “advanced” search functionality on the SAM site will allow you more detailed options, including the ability to search by products or services as well as by the vendor’s location, type of entity, and socio-economic status.