Fiction/Myth: “I’m sure the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is useful for contracting officers when they need information. But why should I, as a contractor, care about it?”
Fact: True, the FPDS is helpful to the government policy makers and the government’s contracting team. As FAR 4.602(a) notes, the contract data reported to the FPDS gives agencies a basis for reports to the President, Congress, GAO, and the public, as well as the means to measure the extent to which businesses in certain socio-economic categories (small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone, etc.) are receiving federal contracts and the effect of Federal contracting on policy and management initiatives (such as for promoting sustainable technologies and products).
But is that all the FPDS can do?
With a few exceptions (such as information about classified contract actions) the information in the FPDS is publicly accessible, in accordance with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. (You can find the FPDS at https://www.fpds.gov.) The contracts covered include all contracts and contract actions over the micro-purchase threshold, including definitive contracts, indefinite delivery contracts, task orders and delivery orders, GSA Federal supply schedules, blanket purchase agreements, and basic ordering agreement.
So why might this information be of interest to a contractor?
Do you care about potential teaming partners, and their qualifications? Would you like to know whether they have performed contracts that will give them helpful past performance credentials that might strengthen your team? And in the other direction, would you like to know whether they are performing contracts that might raise OCI issues?
The FPDS is a good place to start. It won’t answer all your questions, but it will help you know where to look and what to ask.
And what about the “dark side”? Maybe you have similar questions about your competitors. And – here’s where it gets a bit dicey – maybe they have similar questions about you! Don’t you want to make sure the information about you is accurate?
Finally, if you’ve targeted a new business opportunity in a particular agency program, you may find it helpful to know the history of awarded contracts and task orders in that program.
These are all reasons why you might want to look at – and use – the FPDS.