How to Research U.S. Gov. Contracts : Part 2 – SAM.gov

This article is a follow up to the post U.S. Government Contracts Case Study: Part 1 – Contractor Misconduct but it is NOT necessary to read it first.

This part of the walkthrough involves researching a company in special databases for companies that contracted for the U.S. government. At this point we know the company had a contract with the government and we have identified its name and address. Based on this information will look up the company registration.

The company we are researching is Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and its address is 12010 Sunset Hills, Reston, VA. We are researching it because we found a record about a violation related to a drowning death.

SAM.gov

The next step is to go to SAM.gov, because any company that has ever even tried to get a government contract will be registered on this site. SAM.gov is the site that the government uses to announce contracts offerings (also known as “tenders”) so that companies can bid on them. Companies HAVE to register on this site before applying for a contract.

We search for our company name and we get a lot of results. So we use the advanced search function and specify the company’s address (obtained from its website and confirmed from OpenCorporates.com) and get the registration for our company.

SAM.gov registration summary

The most important is the DUNS number, which is 078883327 for the company. The DUNS number is a unique identifier used for the company in government databases to find a company. This way there is no confusion if the company name is misspelt in a record or if other companies have the same name. “DUNS” refers to a separate database maintained by the company Dun and Bradstreet, more on that later.

One aspect of the SAM registration that is useful is the POC section, because that will identify certain officials in the company, their contact information, and their responsibility. For example our company has identified POCs assigned for Electronic Business, Government Business, and Accounts Receivable.

Note the drop down menu next to where it says View Historical Record. The website will let you look at past registrations that often have different names. This is helpful for finding additional current and former employees. More importantly, if you are researching a past contract, you can look up which member of the company was affiliated with it at the time.

There are two more bits of information that could be useful here. Click on “Core Data” on the left you see a section like below. First, you see when the company first registered with SAM.gov, which is essentially when the company decided to start seeking government contracts.

This is an important date for researcher that is looking into a company’s SEC filings or Lobby disclosures. Any changes that occurred at that point in time that might be related to the company’s desire for government contracts. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

Second, you see the company’s congressional district identified as “VA 11” also known as the 11th District of Virginia. A researcher should consider investigating the relationship between the company and the member of Congress representing this district. An upcoming post will give in depth instruction on how to do that and specifically look at SAIC.

DUNS Database (at dnb.com)

Companies that bid for government contracts must also register with the DUNS database at Dun & Bradstreet to get their DUNS number. We can use the company’s number to look up its registration at DUNS for additional information. We will address the information that is available for free.

To do so, we go to dnb.com and input the number in the search function on the top right of the website. We pull up the record for our company, which starts with the basics.

The Company Profile provides a basic description of the company and what it does.

DUNS estimates that the company has 5 employees at its primary address, but it is not clear what that estimate is based on so it is hard to validate.

The record also points out that the company we are researching is a branch of a larger corporation with the same name, this explains why there were so many results when we searched the company’s name in SAM.gov.

There are several tools available if you want to research the larger web of a corporation, but this article is focused on databases that are specific to government contracts. The aforementioned tools, that will not be addressed in this article, include https://www.corporationwiki.com/, https://enigma.com/, https://public.tableau.com/s/, and https://www.thomasnet.com/.

Finally, the record also identifies several employees as potential contacts for further research.

That is it for looking up registrations, the next post will address investigating the contract.

2 thoughts on “How to Research U.S. Gov. Contracts : Part 2 – SAM.gov

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