The Big Data Challenge with SLED Government Contracting: Part 1 – The Fragmented Market

Published: April 09, 2018

Community DevelopmentEconomic Development/RegulationEducation (Higher)Education (Primary/Secondary)General Government ServicesHealth CareJustice/Public Safety & Homeland SecurityNatural Resources/EnvironmentPublic FinancePublic UtilitiesSocial ServicesTransportation

An introduction to the problem of analyzing diverse and non-normalized big data associated with SLED contracting. This is part one of an article series from GovWin exploring and analyzing SLED expenditure data to help contractors win new business.

It’s difficult to make meaning out of big data. With more and more government data available through public sources, it’s tempting for companies to start capturing some of that data in an attempt to create some sort of analysis or tool for business development. While much of the data is “free”, it’s tough and expensive to put it all together.

At GovWin, we’ve been doing just that for decades, merging datasets from many diverse sources, analyzing that data, and presenting it in a useful and normalized format. Our customers can put this data and related market intelligence to immediate use to win government contracts.

The problem with big data is especially acute for SLED government contractors. We get that at GovWin and it’s the exact problem we work very hard at solving every day. Simply, there are nearly 100,000 different SLED governments, each with their own budgets, purchasing rules, and contracting processes. Taken together, this truly big set of data has created a data jungle for SLED vendors.

As an example, merging all expenditure data categories from just the states, counties, and cities would produce something like this. While a bit mesmerizing on its own, it’s difficult to turn into meaningful analysis and even harder to get a contracting win from it.

At GovWin, we have many products that can help SLED contractors make meaning of such data. For example, our SLED Government Profiles products provide data on all SLED government entities, including expenditures, purchasing, government employment, and population. We not only have the data, but we normalize and categorize it through various analytic and data visualization tools designed so contractors can more easily find and win new business.

Here’s the same expenditure data viewed through a slightly different lens, the GovWin Vertical categories. Specifically, each circle represents the per capita expenditures by Census category, grouped by GovWin’s Verticals for each of the state, county, and city governments in the U.S.

More specifically, bigger circles represent greater per capita expenditures. Also, categories toward the center have higher overall expenditures in the SLED market (e.g., health & human services and combined education are at the center).

Why use per capita expenditures? Simply, it is one normalizing measure contractors can use to uncover business opportunities by easily comparing one government to another. Spending more per capita on a particular area indicates that either a) the government is procuring a lot in this particular area and interested contractors can accordingly expect increased related procurement or b) the government is spending more than it would like to in the area and could use help reducing expenditures.

Taking another glance at the categorized and visualized data shows that there are generally larger and more easily identifiable circles in the orange and red categories toward the center. This indicates that health & human services and combined educational spending are not only larger overall categories, but larger per capita categories for many SLED governments. It follows that both of these verticals are not only areas of heavy procurement, but also pain points for most SLED governments where contractors can provide some relief.  

However, this is just the start and there’s still more mining and analysis that would be helpful. For example, are there geographies with more per capita spending in certain areas or are there more specific spending categories that might provide some opportunity for contractors? We'll take a look at these questions and more.  

Stay tuned to this blog in the coming weeks as we dig through some of this SLED expenditure big data and draw upon GovWin’s novel analysis aimed at helping contractors find and win new business.

For more information on GovWin’s SLED Government Profiles, visit us here.

To see how other companies are putting GovWin-Onvia solutions to work by weeding through big data to win more contracts, check out their stories here.