Open-source software will be used to create a federal database of contractor information now kept in eight separate systems, said a government official leading the effort.
IBM has developed the architecture and requirements for the first phase of the new repository, called the System for Award Management (SAM), which will eventually be the single point of entry for contractor and federal grantee registration, certification, contracts and performance data.
The General Services Administration, which manages the now separate systems, is soliciting development bids with the requirement that the system's software be public, unlike typical requirements that give the contractor proprietary rights for what they develop, said Chris Fornecker, chief of GSA's Acquisition Systems Division.
Fornecker said he wants software developers to be able to see the software code and use it to make better proposals for future phases of SAM.
"Managing it as an open-source project is intended to improve the competition through the life of the project," he said.
The $35 million consolidation of the current systems into SAM — including government solicitation data on FedBizOpps, contract award information on the Federal Procurement Data System, and the Excluded Parties List of suspended and debarred contractors — starts next year and proceeds in four phases through 2014.
Savings from no longer having to operate and maintain separate systems will equal the cost of SAM in three years, Fornecker said.
Plans are underway for the later addition of the Past Performance Information Retrieval System, which includes information on how well contractors performed government work.
Fornecker said the consolidation is expected to reduce errors by reducing from eight to one the number of data entry points contractors and agencies have to fill in on a topic. SAM should also have better tools for the public to download data in bulk.
"It's kind of spotty today in terms of what the capabilities are across these systems," he said.