Market Research for the Defense Industry

Government buyers, and contractors can use the BidLink’s Market Research tool to examine the competitive landscape for products and services.  With only a few clicks, you can see recent Government buying activity for a wide array of products and services.   By browsing through a comprehensive list, you can drill down to specific product and service categories to identify companies that are actively selling to the Government.

 

Locate parts by Federal Supply Class (FSC)

Locate parts by Federal Supply Class (FSC)

Once you have identified the product or service code, BidLink displays a list of companies that are actively supplying that product or service to the Government. For anyone in the U.S. Military, BidLink simplifies compliance by providing critical information on business size, AbilityOne, GSA Schedule, and UNICOR.  Buyers can identify other agencies buying similar goods or services.

For companies, it is easy to see the competitive landscape.  Vendors can review recent contracting activity, look at prices, and identify upcoming opportunities before they go out to bid.

The Market Research tool is included in your BidLink subscription, so give it a try.

 

Locate suppliers, analyze competition

Hard to find items become opportunities

bsmo

Sometimes the Defense Department will issue a solicitation for an item, which does not receive any quotations from contractors.  The military still needs the item, but no supplier has been identified.  These bids don’t go away, but are reclassified and kept open until a supplier is found.

These solicitations are often unanswered due to a lack of technical data or drawings. Some agencies are even willing to provide a sample of the part for contractors to reverse engineer. This provides an opportunity for contractors who can source, or produce these hard to find items.

Currently, there are about 45,000 such solicitations in BidLink.  They will appear in your regular bid searches as normal bids, but with a notice in the bid details like the one depicted above.  These bids will remain in your search until they are either deleted, or removed by DOD.  You can simply move them to your trash if you no longer wish to see them.

BidLink will start to display these bids this week.  We hope that you discover new business in this collection of unanswered bids.

 

Government trade shows could be better

Defense Industry Trade Show

Defense Industry Trade Show

Government sponsored trade shows are B2G events that bring together buyers and sellers.  On the surface, it sounds like a great idea to increase competition for Government business. However, many companies are finding that the leads generated from these shows do not turn into business.

B2G shows are often packed with buyers, who process requisitions from managers and end users.  Their job is to solicit items and services, ensure competition where possible, and make sure the procurement adheres to the FAR.  Buyers can invite new companies into a procurement, but they do not decide what products and services are needed by the Government.

SPY PHONE BOX

At a recent trade show, the booth next to us at BidLink was a company selling a secret spy-phone signal blocking box, for top secret conference rooms.  It was basically a cone-of-silence for cell phones, with radio signal blocking, sound deadening and speakers that generate white noise.  Secret agents could put their phones in the box, close it, and have private conversation without the prying ears of spies. People in secret meetings can honestly say, “Honey, the phone never rang. I swear”.  It was a great idea, that will never gain traction at the typical B2G show.  This is because buyers, the most common attendees at B2G shows are not the folks who would make a decision that the Government needs a few secret spy-phone blocking boxes.  Program managers and other higher-ups have this authority, but it’s simply not the buyer’s job to decide what the Government needs.

A few booths down, there was a company selling industrial supplies. He had a catalog of over 10,000 items; everything from generators, to wash buckets, to paint, to industrial toilet paper.  B2G Shows are perfect for this type of company.  Drive around any military base and you will see hosing units, stores offices, and lots of people.  These people need every day things, and the Government buys lots of them.  A vendor selling commonly purchased items could forge a new relationship with many buyers at a B2G show.  Especially if they are 8a or small business.  Buyers love to bolster their set asides.

BETTER NETWORKING

We see lots of companies selling IT solutions at these shows.  They sell innovative solutions to Government problems, including staffing, supply chain, and even BidLink, who provides a tool for sourcing, pricing, and finding out almost anything about an NSN.  These services do not have a clearly defined market in the Military, but they provide efficiency that could save the Government money and time.

If you are trying to introduce something new to the Government, you may find it difficult to get any traction from a Government trade show.  This is because most of the attendees at these shows are either buyers, who only buy items that are requisitioned, or end users with no buying authority. We have met with very few program managers at these shows.  Program managers have the authority to decide if a new product or service could be of use to their group.

The idea of getting business and Government together make sense. Companies have difficulty reaching the right contacts in Government, so hosting meetups is a great idea. The disconnect is that sometimes these shows are filled with people who alone, cannot make the decision to buy your new product or service.

What might improve these trade shows would be for program managers as well as several of their personnel to attend the show together.  Often the program manager might not directly use the product or service, but has the authority to decide if it should be purchased. Program managers roaming a trade show with a couple of end users, who can evaluate the service would provide a powerful combination.  Combining the need to buy (end user) with the purchasing authority (program manager) allows companies with new ideas for the Government to showcase their wares to folks who may actually buy what they offer.

BidLink.net is a provider of defense industry information for contractors worldwide. This data includes millions of defense contracts, procurement history, part numbers and vendor details. This unique combination of resources allows BidLink to monitor and extract important information for the defense contracting industry. BidLink.net, based in Washington, D.C., provides bid search and notification services, competition analysis as well as part number (NSN) lookup to many military activities and thousands of private companies around the world.

For the news and tools to compete in the defense industry, go to www.bidlink.net.

By Tom Gerbe,  Defense Industry Analyst.

BidLink’s new Super Search

Super_search_multiple_results

The BidLink Super Search

Searching BidLink just got easier!  The BidLink Super Search runs your query against dozens of databases, so you don’t have to.  BidLink has tons of data and multiple tools for searching.  Sometimes you do not know where to search to find the right answers.  BidLink’s intelligent Super Search attempts to figure out what you are searching and shows you where it can be found.  If your query appears in multiple databases, BidLink will tell you where it was found and give you a choice (seen above).

Over time, we will be expanding the reach of Super Search as well as adding additional intelligence.  All of this will make it simple for you to find the answer you need – quickly.

Currently, Super Search can locate:

  • NSN / NIIN
  • Contracts
  • Part Numbers
  • Company Names
  • CAGE codes
  • Item Names
  • Navy Item Control Numbers (NICN)

Another neat feature is the integration of technical characteristics into the item name search.  Try entering a DOD approved Item Name into the search box and watch how easy it is to locate parts. BidLink will first display all matching item names. Once you choose one, you are given a list of technical characteristics that allow you to locate the specific item that you seek.

Refine by characteristics

Refine by characteristics

By choosing the characteristics, you can eliminate irrelevant results, drilling down to exactly the part that you want to locate.  Try it today!

 

US Government data disappears

Did you know that US Government data including contract award information can be deleted from their databases after only a year?

Well if you guessed no you’re wrong.  According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) the contract file retention period can be as short as one year after date of award.  So depending on the type of contract, the ‘Data Retention Period’ (time required to keep documents) varies from one year to six years and three months.

Defense Contracting – Cables without Competition

 

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Rack; Dili, Timor-Leste, June 18, 2011. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Farrington

By Tom Gerbe – Defense Industry Analyst – BidLink.net

The U.S. Defense Department has over 57,000 open solicitations that have gone unanswered.  Among these items are cable assemblies that could be produced by informed manufacturers.  As a data analyst for BidLink.net I have been combing through opportunities for readers of “Wire and Cable Technology” and have located a number of big ticket items for which the Government cannot find suppliers.

Many defense contractors aggressively compete for the lowest price in order to win bids, fighting against anywhere from two to twenty companies on each solicitation.  There is an easier way — find bids for which there is no competition. One way to accomplish this is to find unanswered bids.  In some cases current suppliers no longer manufacture a part for which there is still a need.  In the examples below, there are several items which were designated as “small business” meaning that the defense department is required to purchase the part from a company under a certain size.  A large company may have supplied the item in the past, but now it must go to a small business. This can spell opportunity for contractors who are paying attention. 

Below are a list of solicitations from the Defense Department that are past the closing date but remain unanswered. Expired bids can be researched using the Quick Search at BidLink.net.

Solicitation # Item name Quantity Stock Number (NSN) Price Range (ea)
SPE4A013T0918 Cable Assembly 24 5995015219577 $2,888 – $4,631
SPE4A512T4824 Cable Assembly 7 5995015219577 $541 – $881
SPE4A512T5555 Cable, Adapter 2 5995013310791 $1,080 – $2,657
SPE4A013T0599 Cable Assembly 1 5995013622192 $3,292 – $16,336
SPE4A513Q2480 Cable Assembly 7 5995014551297 $12,566 – $16,332
SPE4A513T8337 Cable Assembly 19 5995015516163 $1,124 – $1,172

The prices above span a wide range, likely due to the lack of competition for these items.  If the part is a critical item and there is only one company that can supply it, the Government will pay any reasonable price to obtain the part.  This is reflected in the procurement history for the items above.

When a bid goes unanswered, it stays open even after the closing date.  Over time, thousands of these unanswered bids remain in the system waiting for someone to respond with a quote.  In some cases aircraft can remain grounded and equipment can go unused because the Government cannot find a qualified supplier.  If you have not made an item for the Government before you may have to submit a Source Approval Request (SAR) to the agency in order to receive approval to sell the part to the Government.

Due to the sequester, the defense budget is shrinking causing companies to find new ways to compete.  Locating solicitations for which there is no current supplier become a treasure trove for companies that know how to locate this business.

BidLink.net is a provider of defense industry information for contractors worldwide. This data includes millions of defense contracts, procurement history, part numbers and vendor details. This unique combination of resources allows BidLink to monitor and extract important information for the defense contracting industry. BidLink.net, based in Washington, D.C., provides bid search and notification services, competition analysis as well as part number (NSN) lookup to many military activities and thousands of private companies around the world.

For the news and tools to compete in the defense industry, go to www.bidlink.net.

Defense Department Promoting Real Competition

 

WC-130J Hercules aircraft weather reconnaissance loadmaster

WC-130J Hercules aircraft weather reconnaissance loadmaster.
DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

By Tom Gerbe – Defense Information Analyst – BidLink.net

Small businesses have an uphill battle when trying to compete with big companies for defense contracts. Government officials know that small business participation not only helps local economies, but increases competition therefore reducing costs for the military.  Undersecretary of Defense, Dr. Ashton Carter recently stated that, “Real competition is the single most powerful tool available to the department to drive productivity”.  A number of initiatives are in place to promote “Real Competition”.

Twelve memoranda have been issued over the last three years from the president on down, outlining rules and methods for increasing competition in defense contracting.  All of this is designed to deliver better value to the taxpayer and warfighter by improving the way the department does business.  At a time when all departments are cutting expenses to reduce the deficit, program managers throughout DOD have a real motivation to act on these initiatives.

PROMOTE REAL COMPETITION

The following are recommendations from Dr. Ashton Carter on how to promote competition:

  • Present a competitive strategy at each program milestone
  • Remove obstacles to competition
  • Allow a reasonable time to bid
  • Require non-certified cost and pricing data on single offers
  • Require open system architectures and set rules for acquisition of technical data
  • Increase dynamic small business role in defense marketplace

Government buyers have a responsibility to promote competition wherever possible.  If you know the rules, they can be convinced to un-bundle contracts, consider alternative suppliers and even set-aside contracts exclusively for small business.  The key is understanding the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and how they can be used to benefit your company.

BUNDLED CONTRACTS

In some cases, your company may produce a part which is often included in larger, long-term contracts. The Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997 defines contract bundling as “consolidating two or more procurement requirements for goods or services previously provided or performed under separate, smaller contracts into a solicitation of offers for a single contract that is unlikely to be suitable for award to a small business concern.”

The act requires that each federal agency, to the maximum extent practicable:

  1. structure contracting requirements to facilitate competition by and among small business concerns, taking all reasonable steps to eliminate obstacles to their participation; and
  2. avoid unnecessary and unjustified bundling of contract requirements that may preclude small business participation in procurements as prime contractors.

In some cases, requirements are bundled together for years even though buyers are supposed to re-evaluate the market on a periodic basis.  At the time of the initial requirement by the Government there may have been only one supplier for a part, while years later a number of small business may be able to compete.  As a potential bidder on a contract, it is your responsibility to advise the buyer that you would like to compete for this business.  If you are successful, buyers may un-bundle a long-term contract for many items and solicit them separately in order to promote more small business competition.  The Government is required to justify contract bundling and this justification can be challenged by a prospective bidder.

COMPETITION ADVOCATE

When all else fails, each program provides a competition advocate.  According to FAR 6.502 Competition advocates are responsible for  promoting the acquisition of commercial items, promoting full and open competition, challenging requirements that are not stated in terms of functions to be performed. They are also responsible for challenging barriers to the acquisition of commercial items and full and open competition such as unnecessarily restrictive statements of work, unnecessarily detailed specifications, and unnecessarily burdensome contract clauses.  A memorandum from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense states a commitment to, “Reinvigorate and expand the role of the competition advocate and reinforce the importance of competition to everyone involved in the acquisition process”.

We encourage you to study the Federal Acquisition Regulations and learn your rights as a contractor.  Many initiatives have been put in place to help small contractors compete.   Understanding the rules is the first step toward bringing Government business to your business.

BidLink.net is a provider of defense industry information for contractors worldwide. This data includes millions of defense contracts, procurement history, part numbers and vendor details. This unique combination of resources allows BidLink to monitor and extract important information for the defense contracting industry. BidLink.net, based in Washington, D.C., provides bid search and notification services, competition analysis as well as part number (NSN) lookup to many military activities and thousands of private companies around the world.

For the news and tools to compete in the defense industry, go to www.bidlink.net.

 

Dig deep with BidLink Document Search

BidLink.net is the only place where you can full-text search millions of defense industry documents including bids, awards, mil-specs and other defense industry data.  With this new update to BidLink’s document search you now have the ability to easily refine searches by un-checking the boxes next to each category that you wish to eliminate from the search result.

Currently the full-text document search has over 14 Million documents with many more on the way.  The full-text document search is a great tool for research, competition analysis, price justification, market research and more.  Just choose document search from the BidLink left navigation, type a search term into the box and review the results.

Full text search Government Documents

Full text search Government Documents

The BidLink document search is available as a free preview to all BidLink customers. Try it today and experience the power of full-text search.

– The BidLink Development Team

 

BidLink helps defense contractors be more competitive

Two Marine AV-8B Harrier jets Photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Apprendi, USMC.

Two Marine AV-8B Harrier jets Photo by Cpl. Matthew J. Apprendi, USMC.

With significant defense cuts on the way, contractors are looking for ways to become more competitive.  BidLink.net has introduced a suite of tools designed to help defense contractors locate and bid on hard to find contracts.  The company also offers free consulting to clients, helping them establish searches as well as teach them other ways of finding business.  “So many companies are competing for contracts from DLA, who is gradually moving toward a system of large long-term contracts awarded to a finite number of suppliers”, says Jim Gerbe, a contracting specialist with BidLink.net.  Jim suggests that contractors are overlooking less competitive opportunities that could be found by searching procurement history and GSA Schedules.

For more on competition in defense contracting read:Defense Contracting Getting More Competitive .

BidLink.net’s suite of tools include:

– Procurement History Search: Contracts are consolidated from many redundant sources and compared in order to create the most complete picture of buying activity possible.  This tool can be used to find long-term contracting opportunities before they expire so companies can position themselves to compete when a new RFP is issued.  A list of purchases often including price, quantity and number of offers submitted help contractors determine what price to bid.

– Competition Analysis: Analyse the competitive climate for a particular item.  Clients can examine contract history for each competitor as well as an overview of buying activity over time.  Contractors can view a list of contracts for a particular item, analyse pricing history and determine the best way to compete.

– Intelligent Bid Search: Create saved searches that automatically scan Government opportunities for bids specific to a company’s requirements. Searches can be refined to eliminate large numbers of irrelevant bids allowing the user to spend less time searching through bids to find actionable opportunities.

– Full Text Document Search: BidLink is the only company that provides a full-text search of bid and award documents, helping contractors locate information that is not available in the standard Government feeds.  Access to original .pdf documents where available gives the contractor the ability to review the original contract signed by the Government. Searching a large number of contracts can provide valuable insight into the competitive environment, surfacing opportunities to win business.

BidLink.net is a provider of defense industry information for contractors worldwide. This data includes millions of defense contracts, procurement history, part numbers and vendor details. This unique combination of resources allows BidLink to monitor and extract important information for the defense contracting industry. BidLink.net, based in Washington, D.C., provides bid search and notification services, competition analysis as well as part number (NSN) lookup to many military activities and thousands of private companies around the world.

For the news and tools to compete in the defense industry, go to www.bidlink.net.

 

Defense Department Already Cutting Back

By Tom Gerbe – Defense Information Analyst – BidLink.net

Ahead of the sequester, the Defense Department has already implemented significant cuts in defense spending. Defense spending dropped $15.1 Billion from FY 2011 to 2012 and this is before the eight percent across the board cuts are implemented starting March 1.  Unlike the sequester, the reduction of spending in 2012 was not evenly distributed through the top four major procurement agencies.  Data from the procurement history database at BidLink.net shows that the departments of the Army and Navy saw a reduction of $ 18.5 billion and $ 9.9 Billion respectively, while the Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency saw increases of $4.1 Billion and $7 Billion.

US Defense spending 2009-2012

US Defense spending 2009-2012

A significant increase in spending for airframe structural components (Federal Supply Class 1560) was noticed, rising $3.3 Billion, $4.8B and $5.5B for 2010, 2011 and 2012.  Many large contracts were awarded to prime contractors including Boeing (NYSE: BA), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), EADS North America, McDonNell Douglass, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and MD Helicopter.  Boeing received the largest contract for this supply class in 2012, through a modification to contract number N0001909C0022 for the purchase of eleven P-8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft.  This modification for $1.9 Billion was issued in September of 2012 to be completed by May 2015.  Eighty Six percent of this contract will be executed in the United States in areas including Seattle, Washington; Baltimore, Maryland;  McKinney, Texas; Greenlawn and North Amityville, New York.

There was a surge of spending in the third quarter of 2012, followed by a twenty two percent drop in the fourth quarter according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Some of the quarterly decline is a cyclical drop due to the fiscal year ending in September, but much of the annual drop is a decrease in spending.  This reduction in defense spending is primary cause of the almost 1.3% decline in GDP.

BidLink.net is a provider of defense industry information for contractors worldwide. This data includes millions of defense contracts, procurement history, part numbers and vendor details. This unique combination of resources allows BidLink to monitor and extract important information for the defense contracting industry. BidLink.net, based in Washington, D.C., provides bid search and notification services, competition analysis  as well as part number (NSN) lookup to many military activities and thousands of private companies around the world.

For the news and tools to compete in the defense industry, go to www.bidlink.net.

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