Want to sign that contract? Federal databases can help.

If you’re bidding for a contract, it’s essential to know where to pitch your tender. Websites listing government spend and procurement are excellent sources of this competitive intelligence, as they can make finding out your competitors' pricing surprisingly easy. 

It's straightforward to find out federal spend and contract information in the US, thanks to the transparent approach on spending that the government is keen to advance. This transparency is a real gift if you want to find out a competitor's pricing, as the essential information is all nicely laid out for you in these databases. From this, you can get a pretty good idea of how your rival(s) will price their products and services for the contract you're competing for. Knowing this gives your pitch a huge advantage.

The Center for Effective Government was established in 1983, to “lift the veil of secrecy shrouding the White House Office of Management and Budget”. It manages a database of federal spending, the purpose of which is “to give journalists, analysts, government officials, and regular citizens easy access to information”, intended to hold elected representatives accountable for spend. For those in search of competitive intelligence, it’s a goldmine.

The contracts search facility allows you to view the top 100 recipients who were awarded federal contracts. The website has recipients dating back to 2000, and you can search up to and including 2012 (at the time of writing). Useful features include being able to drill down by contracting agency (department), and by state and district.

Searching by government department gives a great level of detail, giving a top 5 breakdown of spend in that area by state, products and services, and which specific areas of the department are spending the most. It then gives the top 10 contractors awarded contracts, with contract value. This top-line information can all be expanded, providing you with lists of all the contractors, products, and sub-departments.

Some federal departments provide their own, very specific intelligence. The Department of Defence is an excellent example of this. The US Department of Defense has all its press releases online, and you can search through these by contract news. It’s updated daily, and contracts valued at $7m plus are announced at 5pm.

There’s intelligence that you’d expect, such as major engineering contracts (with Boeing, for example); and there is also great detail here about everything else this department needs, from aircrew eye protection to hardware systems. There is an excellent search function: simply type your competitors’ names into the Search Contracts box, and it will bring up all relevant contract news.

Probably the most useful source of pricing offered to US government agencies is the GSA Advantage website. Again, searching by competitor name, or even externally searching from Google, usually yields excellent information.

If you’re searching for pricing information in Canada, try Buy and Sell, which lets you search government tenders. There’s a helpful range of search options, and you can register for search updates and email notifications. It’s an excellent resource for both snapshots and detail.

And in the UK, the government's Digital Marketplace website also provides specific pricing information kept on record by suppliers to government agencies.

As you can see, it’s straightforward to find out current and archived contracts and bids, giving you a real advantage when you’re preparing your own tender. If you need to drill down further into your competitors’ contracts and tenders, please get in touch.