Today we’re taking the wraps off of a new experiment in government contracting: RFP-EZ. Our intent is to make it easier for small businesses to sell to government and easier for government to buy from small businesses. RFP-EZ is a marketplace, specifically built to buy high end professional services from small businesses in the technology sector.
Starting right now, you can bid on a variety of contracts today ranging from video transcription to web design to web application development. If you’ve never done business before, you don’t have to worry about getting on any schedules or long, cumbersome registration processes. We’ll deal with that when you become a potential awardee, and help you through the process.
You can register and start bidding now, here:
Just click on “Register as a Business,” fill out our basic registration form, and you’re ready to bid on Federal Contracts.
The projects inside of RFP-EZ are only “simplified acquisition threshold” projects. This means that they qualify for simpler procurement procedures because the value of the contract is in a certain range – in this case between $3,000 and $150,000.
They’re geared towards web-based digital professional services – services like web design and development, social media, digital video, and the like. So if you or your firm tends to be good at these things, submit your bid. If not, then hold on. As we learn more from this experiment, we may grow the platform to other categories.
Finally, remember that this is an experiment. It’s a way for us to see whether or not there’s untapped potential out there to give government better access to technology. RFP-EZ will be open for a limited time as we measure its impact and determine how we move forward.
RFP-EZ has had a busy last couple of weeks as we put the finishing touches on our pilot project. This week and next are all about demonstrations to the acquisitions community inside of government – essentially the same demonstration that we gave to you last week, but in front of live human beings at places like the Front Line Forum and for the Rising Acquisition Professionals, where we even got to meet Procurement Legend Ralph Nash. The feedback that we’ve gotten has been great.
But talking to people inside the government is only half of the battle; we’ve also got to get small businesses involved. As such, Jed went and talked to Ignite Chicago, we spoke at a DC Week Panel and today Adam is speaking at Reboot America.
We’re also on the prowl for acquisitions to run through our pilot. So if you’re at an agency and have a simple technology project that needs to get done, now’s the time!
Look for more news next week – we should have some announcements on the procurements we’ll run, and hopefully be in a place where we can start letting you know how you can register for the RFP-EZ project. So if you’re a small business itching to show the world your chops, we’re almost there!
Clay, Jed, Adam, Sean, Ahson, Andrew and the RFP-EZ team
We’re plugging along building out RFP-EZ, and we’re at a point where we’d love to hear your feedback. We haven’t quite got the software ready on a public server for you to try out yet, but here’s a good screencast of what we’re up to. If you’ve got feedback, please send us an email to email@example.com.
Let’s just get it out of the way: we know you’ve become dependent on Project RFP-EZ’s weekly FRIDAY status updates, and we are so sorry we didn’t get one out this time. It must have been an agonizing three day weekend, filled with sleepless nights as you wondered what is happening with Project RFP-EZ. But things happen, and we hope we didn’t ruin your weekend.
So what did happen last week? Since we shifted from our usual “ship a quick piece of code every week” schedule to our work on RFP-EZ, we decided we needed to broaden out our team. So now, every other week, we present what we’ve done to a larger cohort of people across the government: contracting officers, program offices, and other governmental stakeholders.
This week we’ve been working on the front-end, specifically designing the forms that folks will use to sign up, some skeleton functionality of the app itself from different perspectives.
The neat part is – these aren’t screenshots. They’re from a rudimentary working application we’ve got running on a staging server. And if you’re feeling brave, remember – RFP-EZ is developing out in the open! What’s that mean?
It means the source of this – what’s probably the first open source enterprise procurement app is right here. And you’re welcome to come hack along and help us out.
This week, through next Thursday’s demo-time, we’re going to focus down on the backend of things – making things work great for people inside the government – contracting officers and program offices. It’s the other half of our mission – alongside making it easy for small businesses to bid on government contracts, we’ve got to make it easy for the government to handle those bids easily.
So stay tuned folks, the fun’s just getting started.
Clay, Adam, Jed, Ahson, Sean and the whole RFP-EZ Team
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: this week will mark the first week where we haven’t shipped any new software. The focus of RFP-EZ shifted this week, as we stopped gathering the infrastructural data that we need to build our product (all the APIs and utilities we’ve released) and started building the suite of applications we described in our spec.
We’re building our applications on a framework called Laravel, which is written in PHP. Before you haters start groaning about PHP, think about it: we are building an open source application for procurement. We want our software to be used far and wide, across multiple agencies, across multiple governments, and in multiple kinds of environments. Not every federal and municipal agency is ready to install and maintain NodeJS on their FISMA certified machines. But they’ve all already got PHP installed.
On top of the deployability that PHP buys us, Laravel is a fairly opinionated framework that helps us write good apps fast. A few weeks ago, before the fellowship technically began, the three of us wrote MorningCheckin on it, and while we had our ups and downs it’s a great framework that does what we need it to do and not much more.
The best part of the Presidential Innovation Fellowship is its access to coaches. To that end, when we decided a few weeks back to start using Laravel, we knew we’d need Laravel’s creator, Taylor Otwell to come help us out. This week, he did, and we were happy to contribute to the project with his guidance.
Jed’s up in New York this weekend, giving the RFP-EZ dog and pony show to the folks up there, and Adam spent some serious time upgrading FormTimer to something a lot more usable. Next week? Big demo time – we’ve invited 20 people from inside the government to take a look at what we’re building in terms of internal-tools to give us feedback, and it’s our plan to shift to doing public releases every other Friday from here on out. Starting next week.