A Fond Farewell to FPDS.gov | Federal Compass

A Fond Farewell to FPDS.gov

01/28/2020


The Federal Procurement Data System or FPDS has been a constant in my professional life since 2005. For the better part of those 15 years, I have spent some portion of nearly every day in FPDS.gov. At this point, I can't remember those initial challenges of trial and error, nor am I able to accurately estimate the amount of time spent with various versions of the FPDS Data Dictionary. Through all the frustrations over download limitations and syntax errors, I learned to rely on FPDS.gov as a critical source of information.

fbo-sam-migration

Now here we are, only days away from the final curtain call for my old, frustrating sidekick. FPDS.gov will transition to SAM in February, and for many, the process of learning a new system will begin anew. After spending a decent amount of time with this new system, I'd like to offer up my thoughts.

Don't worry; this won't be FBO Part Deux

Yes, the interface is significantly different from FPDS.gov. Yes, it will require a real investment of time to figure out the lay of the land. However, all the elements are the same, and if you're proficient with FPDS, you won't find any surprises in the data.

Existing saved searches

The proof will be in the proverbial pudding as to whether or not saved searches port over from FPDS.gov. Even if they do, the nature of this kind of transition will make it a necessity to do a thorough inspection of each search.

A brand-new user manual

GSA opted to go with an off-the-shelf tool for the new environment, and the user manual exists on MicroStrategy's website. As a result, the user manual focuses on functionality and does not blend in examples with FPDS data, as did previous manuals. I would recommend getting a head start by reviewing the MicroStrategy documentation as the SAM interface introduces new functionality.

Yes, new functionality

The data and standard operators for searches will not change from FPDS.gov to SAM. Though, you will find some new functionality within the system. Many of the attributes have pre-populated lists, removing the need to reference a data dictionary. They also introduce Attribute Qualifications, allowing you to replicate searches and change certain criteria without having to rewrite the query.

Streamlined and complex searches

The system allows you to interact with a step-by-step query builder for simple queries. For more complex searches, they offer the ability to drag and drop attributes or elements into either the results or filter sections. For complex searches, I found that using “OR” operators seems unnecessarily complex, and it makes me miss the simplicity of FPDS.gov.

Increased download limit

I can hear the cheers. Nothing about FPDS.gov was more frustrating than the limitation on downloads and the extra work required to navigate around that issue. Well, the SAM interface has significantly increased the maximum download limit, and this is something any user of FPDS can applaud.

My review?

The transition will not result in concerns over accuracy or missing data, and most frustrations will revolve around learning a new system. My preference would have been to increase the maximum number of downloads and keep the existing interface, though I admittedly have yet to encounter any significant drawbacks with the SAM interface.

The Author

Jim Sherwood Federal Compass
Jim Sherwood
Leading the revolution in federal market intelligence.

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