Government Websites: Why Your Own Unaided Prospecting for Bid/RFP Opportunities is So Often a Bust

BidPrime News Dec 16, 2019

You want to grow your business by adding government contracts to your revenue stream.

But to do that you first must find suitable government contracting opportunities.

You think to yourself, “How hard can opportunities be to discover in this, the age of the internet, when everything is online?”

Turns out it's very hard to not only find government contracting opportunities but also to act upon them quickly.

Of course, that’s only the case if you attempt to uncover and procure them unaided, relying on your own skills, efforts, and luck.

The reason you’ll have a tough time of it on your own is that the websites governments throughout North America operate and employ to issue bids for needed goods, services, or solutions are all too often a mess.

They are the antithesis of user-friendly. They prove frustrating to navigate and utilize, which can make the process of searching for opportunities and responding to them feel like you’ve stumbled into a torturous realm worse than Dante’s infamous 'Ninth Circle of Hell'.

Compounding matters, those government websites—more than 130,000 of them at last count—suffer from inconsistency. No two government websites are ever exactly alike, thus you can’t really know what to expect from one site to the next. That can complicate your attempts to compile one potentially winning bid after another.

‘Parade of Horribles’

At BidPrime, we monitor and/or visit virtually every U.S. and Canadian government website on a mind-bogglingly frequent basis, so we’ve seen the “parade of horribles” from start to finish (if you’re already a BidPrime subscriber, you understand that you're fortunate to not have to slog your way through all that muck, since we happily do it in your stead).

We’ve pulled together the following observations from along the parade route. These are the sources of aggravation and time-waste you encounter when you try on your own to find, pursue, and monitor government contracting opportunities.

Poor design. Many websites look like they were laid out by someone who just got off one of those carnival spin-rides that leave you dizzy and severely disoriented. Instead of the open, airy, graceful beauty and orderliness that make many private-sector sites a pleasure to use, you encounter at some government online properties homely homepages, disjointed content, and hopeless navigation setups all but guaranteed to befuddle and aggravate.

Hoops and hurdles. Typical among government websites is a requirement that you register before you can access bids/RFPs and submit proposals. Fair enough, but the process involved in registering is often cumbersome—so much so that it can take anywhere from five to 45 minutes to complete. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that each site has its own unique demands for type and detail of information you’re obliged to supply during registration. As well, each site likely has login procedures different from those of the others at which you’ve signed up. Worse, some websites compel you to enter a very specific code or series of codes in order to access particular bids/RFPs (if you put in the wrong alphanumeric characters or don't even have any in the first place, you're locked out of that bid/RFP opportunity).

Barely usable search function. Say you’ve logged into the site of a large agency, one that procures a seemingly endless variety of goods, services, and solutions. You want to see if they need any of what your business offers, so you type into the search box atop the homepage the keywords relevant to your wares. You wait and wait and wait. Finally, there appear on your screen the words “no results found.” You know that can’t be true because you know this agency frequently buys things akin to that which you sell. You then figure you’ll see some results if you refine your search. Much to your dismay, the search feature at this site lacks any of the tools that would permit refinement. You try a new search with different keywords. This time you get a few hits, but all are irrelevant—hence, useless.

Missing, conflicting, or misleading information. Some sites present a list of bids/RFPs (which is great) but fail to give you a link to the supporting documentation you’ll need in order to know how to complete your proposal. Sometimes they give a link but clicking it does nothing. Or, alternatively, the link is broken and when you click it you get a 404 message—computer-speak for “page not found.” Harsh, too, is the site that makes it difficult to swiftly pinpoint opportunities (an especially noxious problem for Quick Quotes, those solicitations with insanely short publication-to-award timeframes). Meanwhile, some sites lead you to believe that only after paying a fee will you be permitted to review bid data or submit a bid. And heaven help you if you have questions about a bid/RFP and transmit them to the agency via the website’s contact form (assuming they offer you one)—you could find yourself waiting a long time to hear back, which won’t make your job of submitting a viable bid ahead of the deadline any easier.

The Scope of the Problem

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has come to the conclusion that nearly all government websites are problematic in one way or another.

You’ve got your work cut out for you.

In 2017, the ITIF conducted a survey of federal government websites and found that 92 percent of them would never pass muster if judged using private-sector standards for security and speed.

For example, according to that survey, 64 percent of federal sites cannot be considered mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly means site content viewable on a desktop display will also be viewable on, say, a Smartphone screen.

The survey also noted that 33 percent of federal websites are incapable of providing secure encrypted connections. In other words, when you go to visit and use one of these unprotected sites, you risk becoming the victim of a data breach. The lack of protection is in many instances the result of site operators neglecting to obtain up-to-date security certificates.

Not Done on Purpose

It’s not that government websites are a mess on purpose. No agency sets out to deliberately create an internet abomination. Yet abominations they often are.

Site owners could fix the problems. Unhappy users complain about the shortcomings often and loudly enough that the agencies know what needs to be done to turn things around.

But rarely are improvements made. Why? Inertia. Agency personnel know it’s easier—and more politically expedient—to let a troubled site remain that way. To fix or improve a site requires innovation. Innovation, naturally, entails risk—and government bureaucracies tend to be risk-averse.

That is why you come to BidPrime. We do all of the interacting with government websites for you. We spare you from the mountains of grief, anxiety, uncertainty, time-waste, and—yes—danger inherent to prospecting for government bids/RFPs using none but your own resources. With BidPrime shielding you from the problems of those government websites, you’re able to seamlessly identify, track, communicate about, and submit bids/RFPs. Consequently, a subscription to BidPrime is the best and easiest way to add government contracts to your revenue stream.

Would you like to try BidPrime for free, to do a no obligation apples-to-apples comparison of your current solution? Click here or call 888.808.5356 for full details.

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