June 22, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
At this point in time, we’re so firmly established in the super-connected world of the digital era that most people take it for granted that you can find anything you’re looking for online. We all tend to start the overwhelming majority of our efforts to look for almost any product or service we need with a Google search. For example, when looking for U.S. healthcare companies, the most common starting point for many people is going to be the first page of local results that turn up in a web search. Another first stop for many searches will be the directory of healthcare providers who participate in one’s HMO or health insurance plan.
But what if you’re a Federal Procurement Officer looking for goods or services? It’s not going to be quite as simple as finding an eligible participating provider on your insurer’s website. But actually, it’s not going to be that much more difficult. Here are a few tips for procurement officers who need to locate U.S healthcare companies.
As you are of course aware, as a Federal Procurement Officer, you’re not at liberty to shop in the open market for goods and services. In this respect, the U.S. Government, while not a business, works in a similar manner to many large companies. In the private sector, corporations establish extensive procurement processes and policies to promote consistency and standardization, as well as to negotiate the best possible prices. As an integral part of this process, your counterparts in the world of corporate procurement are typically restricted to doing business with suppliers and providers who are part of the company’s approved vendor list.
For Federal Procurement Officers, things are actually not that much different in principle, though the practices and procedures are slightly different. In similar efforts to standardize as well as to reduce cost and waste, the U.S. government has established its own set of procurement procedures, including the System for Award Management, or SAM. Established in 2012 as part of a consolidation effort, SAM includes vendor information, which was previously a part of the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. As you know, any company doing business with the federal government is required to be listed in SAM, regardless of the type of goods or services they provide, and also regardless of their size.
So when you’re looking for U.S. healthcare companies, or any other services for that matter, the SAM database, which is searchable along a number of parameters, is a great place to start. And don’t forget that Google is still your friend. You can find healthcare products or services by using standard search methods, and then check the registry at SAM to see if the supplier is approved for federal procurement. Another trick is to include the terms “SAM” or “CAGE” in your search string, since most vendors who do business with the federal government will include information about their SAM registration or their applicable CAGE codes (which the government assigns to eligible suppliers) on their websites.