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Tips on Navigating the System for Award Management for Federal Contractors

Posted Feb 28, 2013

The General Services Administration’s (GSA) launch of the System for Award Management (SAM) in late July 2012 has forced many federal contractors to adjust to a completely new system for reporting and tracking compliance issues.  SAM (www.SAM.gov) was designed to integrate three federal acquisition data systems – Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) and Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).  Since its inception, SAM has been plagued with numerous problems.  Users have reported that the system is slow to respond to requests, missing data fields and that the help desks are overwhelmed with inquiries from frustrated users. 

Because SAM is here to stay, at least for the near future, here are some tips for navigating SAM that all federal contractors should be aware of:

1)     If currently not registered in CCR, create an account on SAM so that you have an active record to be eligible for contract award and contract payments. Also, try to create your account during non-peak hours if possible;
2)     If already registered for CCR or ORCA, SAM registration is not necessary until it is time to update your registration. SAM should notify users when it is time to renew their registration via email 60, 30, and 15 days prior to the expiration of the record.  Because delays have been widely reported, contractors should update their information in advance of their expiration date to avoid being unable to correct inaccurate information at the time of impending award; and
3)     Continue to monitor your business information on SAM and take measures to address any errors that occurred in the migration of your records. It is also good practice to follow up with your requests to SAM to correct errors in your SAM entry because of the various delays users have experienced thus far.