Free Government Data, Is it Really Free?
In this article we will look at the various types of government data providers, content and their value to you as a seller. Keep in mind that not all data providers or procurement solutions are created equal – here’s why.
First you must understand that ALL data providers curate content from public sources (government sites).
From a data standpoint there are two distinctions between one provider and another – the level of information and how it is organized. To better understand what I mean, you must first understand the types of procurement solutions/tools available.
If you expect to win a contract just because you are using a provider for your government data, you will be very disappointed. It is all about information and how you use it.
The Types of Providers for Government Data
These are providers offering nothing more than a posted opportunity; often called bid notifications – bid package has no past procurement or additional information. The link takes you straight to the posted bid opportunity.
Most of us learn to know the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) as being the biggest part buyer in government; causing us in the part world to think in terms of NSNs (National Stock Number) when it comes to our products.
Because of this Defense Logistics Bid Board System is often the site that we begin to monitor. This is the buying activity of parts/products that have a life expectancy. Most NSN databases monitor this agency (DLA) because they are responsible for managing NSNs.
This means that you are only seeing one side of the buying activity. Truth is, the government can trigger purchases of parts/products using a keyword and not the NSN. This activity does not show up on the bid board, even though there is an NSN assigned to it.
Most of these solutions provide more detailed information regarding historical data. Not all, but some of them will offer a view of the entire spectrum of past procurement activity.
Having complete historical data is more of an advantage then limiting ourselves to the highly competitive side of the bid board, found in DLA. I am not saying that this activity is something to ignore, because it is not.
By viewing a complete picture of the market, we can quickly and easily identify where we best fit in. This means a better return on our efforts, and after all that’s what we want.
Price Points for Data Providers
It is hard to give an average price point for each type of these services because most of the more complete solutions do not publicly disclose this.
I have seen lead generators range from $25 and up. Personally, I find little value in just automating the bids when you can set up email notifications on government sites to do that.
In my opinion, for a complete solution without any of the hype, you should expect to pay from $200-$600 per month. Now I know there are solutions out there that can cost a thousand or more a month, but for this price point you can find a provider that can bring you the data you REALLY need, in a way that will yield a better return on our investment.
Choosing the Right Data Provider
To be sure you’re getting the best value for your money you first need to define your needs. There are a lot of providers that end up creating more work than help. This is due in part to system limitations or lack of experience in the government market.
To determine your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you expect a solution to achieve?
- Are you seeking just bid opportunities?
- Do you want complete past pricing information? (this includes buying activity outside of DLA)
- Do you need drawings to assist in quicker decisions?
- Do you want to be proactive in your approach?
- How much are you willing to pay to save time?
With these questions answered, you are now ready to explore your options of providers out there.
Tip: It is helpful if for your data provider to have direct experience selling to the government. Having this experience allows them to better assist you in what information you need, and how to access it from their system.
It is true the government has ALL this data for free, so why should we pay for free information? If you have the resources to employ an individual 40 hours a week to dig through government data in order to develop your government business, then public sources can do the trick.
But if you are like most, you do not have the resources to live in government. A good data provider can not only improve efficiency, but organized correctly it can also allow you to make quicker and more effective decisions than public sources.