How to Research U.S. Gov. Contracts : Part 3 – Contract and Tender Lookup

This article will show how to lookup a government contract in order to see what useful information about the contracting company is available.

Brief recap of the path leading to this point:

The Federal Contractor Misconduct Database identified in part 1 revealed that a company was cited for violations related to the death of a contract trainer involved in training sea lions for the U.S. Navy.

The company’s registration information and unique identifier, known as its DUNS number, were identified in part 2 by looking up the company in SAM.gov and DUNS.com

The company is named Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a branch of the larger corporation with the same name, and its address is 12010 Sunset Hills, Reston, VA. The company’s DUNS number is 078883327. The original violation record listed that the company was working on the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal System Support program when the violation occurred and when the trainer drowned.

CONTRACT lookup

The violation record did not identify the specific contract so one my look through the available records for it. The record listed that the violation was committed by the identified company while it contracted on the Mark 6 / Marine Mammal Support System program in 2014. In theory, this means that the researcher needs to find the contract that fits those three criteria.

The company’s DUNS number that was identified in the previous posts can be used in USAspending.gov, which makes federal government contract information public, to lookup contracts with the company. The website can also search based on the company name or other inputs.

To do so, at the site click on Award Search, then Keyword search. If we search here for the company name there are too many results. Next, try clicking on Award Search then Advanced Search. On the left side of the screen find “Recipient Name”, put in the company name, hit enter (which does not actually start the search), and then scroll down and hit ‘enter’.

This also produces a lot of results. So the next option is to search on the company’s DUNS number. After this, we can add in a keyword search for the name of the program to filter down our results for instances of the company contracting for that specific program.

We see in the results (click here) that when we search for the company (or its DUNS number) with the name of the program, we only get two contracts and the first one started in 2015 and the other in 2020.

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However, we know from the record of the violation that it occurred in 2014.

This is a problem that is NOT common. Basically, the company had a different name when it took the contract. Back then, it was known as Leidos, a company that split off into two other companies known as SAIC and Leidos. The original Leidos, the new Leidos, and SAIC all have different DUNS numbers. This does undermine the value of using the DUNS number to search for a company.

But to investigate the problem, assuming one did not know about the company’s history, a quick google search for SAIC finds on the wikipedia page that the company started on September 27, 2013.

To confirm the information from wikipedia, we see in the company’s SAM.gov registration from the Part 2 post that the company registered on the following day.

One can see from the two contracts identified in the search on USAspending that they are scheduled from 2015 to 2020, and from 2020 to 2025, which suggests that the contracts are usually scheduled in 5 year increments. One can infer that the previous contract was scheduled from 2010 to 2015. At this point one knows that even though SAIC was working on the contract in 2014, the contract may have begun in 2010 before SAIC registered with SAM.gov in 2013.

Since SAIC spun off from Leidos, we can search for that company name in conjunction with the name of the program. Hence, we see that Leidos started a contract in 2009 and it continued through the date of the violation in 2014 and ended in 2015. Therefore, this result is the contract that SAIC was fulfilling at the time of the violation.

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We click on the result and are brought to a page with the contract information. This information includes the contract identification number N6600110C0070.

There is a description of the contract that is kind of vague and not very useful:

There is a history of the transactions for when the company was paid over time and what services were rendered.

Unique identifier information for the award and the government entity that is the source of the contract.

Information about the recipient:

Competition details are interesting. For example, this shows that the contract was intended for open competition but only one company bid for it, meaning that the company did not face any competition for the contract. If we wanted to assess the company based on its ability to obtain a contract, it appears significantly easier (and therefore requiring much less competency from the company) to acquire contracts without facing competition, unless there is some other relevant information that is not apparent here.

Sometimes executives are listed but that is not the case here:

Tender Lookup

We use the solicitation ID, which is also the contract ID, from the contract and go to beta.sam.gov where we can lookup the original tender. When you to the website, you can use the basic search function or if you want the advanced search you have to take the not-obvious step of scrolling down and clicking on Search Contract Opportunities.

Make sure when you are looking for old tenders that you have to unclick a box that says Active Only.

Finally, we search for the ID number and find the original tender.

This is useful because the tender has a description of the contract and that gives us details of what the contract actually entailed.

Additional Contracts

We can also look up to see if the company acquired additional contracts for the same program. Returning to USAspending.gov and searching for the company name and the program name we see that after the first contract ended, the company obtained two more on the same program.

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Interestingly, we see at beta.sam.gov that before the last tender was issued, the navy issued a notice of intent for sole source procurement to SAIC for the program.

If we open this notice, it states that the Navy will not open the tender to open bidding, but will instead offer it directly to SAIC. It is not clear from the notice why the tender will not be open to bids from different companies, but it confirms that SAIC did not face any competition for its most recent contract on the program.

That’s it! An upcoming post will show how to do more in-depth research.

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