Today, 18F is releasing a new beta procurement tool, Discovery.

Discovery will allow federal acquisition personnel to conduct initial market research more easily and quickly, allowing users to discover and research vendors offering work across a number of professional service categories.

This first release is geared for use with GSA’s newly released OASIS vehicle. Eventually, 18F hopes to make additional vehicles and resources available through Discovery, as well.

Screen: Discovery Homepage

Who is it for?

Discovery is built for two main groups of users:

  • Federal acquisition personnel, including: Contract Officers, Contract Specialists, Project Managers, etc. Discovery will help these users understand the potential vendor community around a certain category or work, to understand if OASIS is a viable vehicle, and to identify opportunities to award to vendors with certain socioeconomic setasides.
  • Vendors interested in identifying potential subcontracting partners.

How we built Discovery

Discovery was built with user-centered processes, meaning we conducted a significant amount of user research around the contracting process and related issues before writing any code. Every two weeks we built a working iteration and tested it with users, who helped shape the tool and ground it with real needs.

The screenshot below shows how the Discovery team tracked user input/research. Significant findings were captured on a Discovery Research Trello board, and then were fed back into the main project Trello board as new project tasks, which could then be explored through team and client design exercises (e.g., design studios, sketching).

Trello Board for Discovery Research Process

How we used open source with open data

We pulled together several government open data sets to fundamentally make the tool work, and provide better context for the user (compared to what they would get by looking at each source individually). Pulling together these resources would have been extremely difficult (or impossible) had GSA not made these sources open access to begin with.

In Federal acquisition? You can help!
18F is always seeking the input of Federal acquisition personnel (and not just 1102s)! Interested in trying a new tool prototype? Have an idea on how to solve a problem? Want to share your frustrations? (Believe it or not, we actually enjoy learning about acquisition pain points and figuring out together how to approach these complex issues.) Please get in touch!

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