International Hospital Supply Co. is a California-based medical supply company which does business in Guam the Northern Mariana Islands Palau and other places throughout Micronesia.
IHSC is a prime example of a company that has been using the Internet for about 10 years to keep updated on the latest federal business opportunities in the Micronesian region and elsewhere.
There are two Web sites where companies can search for requests for proposals — Federal Business Opportunities at www.fedbizops.gov and FedBid at www.fedbid.com. “IHSC has been in business for about 30 years and for about the last 10 years we have been using FedBizOps and more recently within the last six months FedBid ” said Michael D. Harris president of IHSC.
“FedBizOps is a government procurement website where people selling anything from truck parts to medical supplies to pharmaceuticals can go to find procurement opportunities that are within their sphere of product capabilities. For us in particular we are looking at medical supplies and surgical instruments ” Harris said.
Contracts with a value of more than $25 000 are posted on FedBizOps where any centrally registered contractor with the federal government is eligible to go in and bid on these RFQs [requests for quotes]. “You are also able to narrow the focus of what you are most interested in and then receive notifications when RFQs come up within your field.
“FedBid works like a reverse auction. It is generally for RFQs between $10 000 and $25 000. Like FedBizOps companies can register with FedBid and let them know the products they are interested in. Companies put in their pricing for their products and they can even put in their floor pricing. If somebody underbids you the system will automatically bid for you down to your floor pricing.” FedBid is an independent small business. FedBid administers the contracts. Companies receive a purchase order directly from the facility but pay FedBid a percentage of the sales — 3% — for handling the procurement process.
The benefits of using these two web sites mean companies are notified of RFQs in a timely manner. It gives the government the widest pool of potential suppliers and as a result the best pricing and it gives small businesses the opportunity to develop relationships with different facilities.
Harris said that before the Web sites were launched companies were notified about RFQs through the mail and sometimes the notifications would not arrive in a timely manner. The locations closest to the mail center would always get the notifications first. Now small businesses are notified through the Internet.
Through FedBizOps and FedBid “You may develop a relationship with a particular facility who puts out an RFQ on the system. Then you may end up doing repeat business with them not necessarily through FedBizOps but directly one-on-one which is called open-market purchasing ” he said.
These relationships can lead small businesses to micro-purchases. Micro-purchases are purchases under $2 500 and are not posted on the Internet. Harris said “With micro-purchases the facility does not need to go out and get three competitive quotes. From $2 500 to $10 000 the facility is required to go out and get three competing quotes in order to try and get the best price for the product. This is where a good direct relationship with the facility is to your benefit. They call you up and ask for a price.”
“As a medical distributor it [Internet] is something that we monitor all the time. We do business directly with the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia which is the main purchasing branch for the defense department but we also work individually with individual facilities. Through FedBizOps and FedBid IHSC has been able to develop relationships with different facilities”
According to the FedBizOps website “FedBizOpps.gov is the single government point-of-entry (GPE) for Federal government procurement opportunities over $25 000. Government buyers are able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet. Through one portal — FedBizOpps (FBO) — commercial vendors seeking Federal markets for their products and services can search monitor and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire Federal contracting community.”
According to the Memorandum for Federal Acqisition Council Agency Senior Procurement Executives posted on the FedBid website “Applying electronic technologies to the acquisition of commercial items generally results in savings for the taxpayer by increasing both government efficiencies and broader supplier participation. These technologies can also enhance opportunities for small businesses by increasing their awareness of and access to federal procurement opportunities.” MBJ