After much anticipation, the government contracting community welcomes SAM, the newest addition to the family of online federal procurement systems.  The long-awaited bundle of joy was delivered on July 29, 2012, launching, as promised, a website that consolidates the capabilities of four existing procurement systems and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.  The Central Contractor Registration (CCR), CCR's Federal Agency Registration module, the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) have been migrated into SAM.  Over the coming years, additional system migrations will take place.

Register With SAM

To access the full functionality of the system, individuals, government contractors, and government users must register with SAM.  Even without registering, visitors to the website can still search SAM by entering search criteria to view registered vendors. 

SAM offers users the option of creating either an Individual Account or a System Account.

Choose an Individual Account:

  • If you need to perform tasks such as registering your entity (legacy CCR/Federal Agency Registration and ORCA functionality)
  • If you need to create and manage exclusion records (legacy EPLS functionality)
  • If you need to view non-public level data for entity management registration records and exclusion records (CCR Tools type of functionality)
  • If you are the only person in your entity who needs access to the extract/web service.  

Choose a System Account:

  • If the account involves system-to-system communication
  • If you are automating your pull of the data
  • If multiple people in your entity need access to the same extracts/web services. You may have up to three POCs on each System account  

A System Account cannot be used to register an entity or manage exclusion records; this type of account is only for system to system communications.  Thus, unless a user knows it needs a System Account, SAM suggests creating an Individual Account to start.  Once the Individual Account is created, the user will have an opportunity to associate with either a federal or a non-federal entity.  An Individual Account can be associated with a federal entity by registering the non-federal entity, migrating from legacy systems, or by requesting roles with a presently registered entity.

Exclusions in SAM

   Since our May 30, 2012 update on the SAM rollout, the website administrators have added a “Quick Start Guide for Exclusions” to the SAM homepage.  Because the legacy Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) is being phased out, will soon house all of the suspension and department information regarding the people and organizations excluded from doing business with the Federal Government.

With the appropriate role, a SAM user can create exclusion records.  Thus, individuals who were authorized to create exclusion records in EPLS can migrate that role to their SAM account.  However, a number of key terminology changes have taken place in the transition to SAM and the system has consolidated the previous numerous exclusion categories into the following 4 Exclusion Types:

  • Preliminarily Ineligible (Proceedings Pending)
  • Ineligible (Proceedings Completed)
  • Prohibition / Restriction
  • Voluntary Exclusion  

While the Quick Start Guide for Exclusions is a good starting point, the SAM User Guide contains detailed information about this critical function.

Preliminary Impressions

At first glance, SAM 1.01 appears to be a rudimentary website, reminiscent of the dotcoms of the late 1990s.  The website has a tendency to move slowly.  Not all links are active (the “About SAM” link on the home page goes nowhere).  The 350-page User Guide is daunting to even the most tech-savvy user (and currently only focuses on the capabilities available in SAM Phase 1, described above).  Earlier this year, GSA was plagued with bad publicity generated by a skeptical and uncomplimentary GAO report regarding cost overruns and functionality shortfalls.

Nevertheless, SAM’s potential to be a user-friendly, one-stop procurement shop remains undiminished.  We will provide regular updates on the progress of the SAM roll-out.