FBO.gov redesign creates frustration and angst

Government contractors’ favorite Web site, FedBizOpps.gov (known as FBO.gov), launched its redesign this week, and there are some significant problems with it. I just e‑mailed this list to the site maintainers: 

1. New site registrants are sent their username AND password in a plain text e‑mail, together, in the same e‑mail in which a “verify your registration” link is included. This is a massive security risk by anyone’s standards. Sending a password via e‑mail is bad enough but sending it together with a username is plain suicidal. 

2. The registration process requests an MPIN (Marketing PIN) for access to “secure but unclassified information”. The MPIN is contractor’s passwords for the ORCA Web site. It’s unclear why contractors should provide the MPIN to FBO, or what it will be used for. Again — a security problem. 

3. All opportunity postings now appear in a single block of text. Lists, bulletpoints, and paragraphs are eliminated and therefore unreadable. 

4. Printing opportunities yields a page of headers and following pages of the huge block of text, in an excruciatingly small font. This makes the whole thing almost unreadable. 

The new site is developed by Symplicity using their SympleObjects e‑Business Framework and a stack of other products. How this site got out of user acceptance testing is beyond me. These are fundamental problems that create significant concerns and frustrations. Let’s hope that these are “version 1” problems that will be swiftly fixed. 

[Update 4/23/08] I just posted an update to this issue, here.

9 responses to “FBO.gov redesign creates frustration and angst

  1. I’ll add to this that you are unable to select more than one classification code from the drop down menu by using the control key. Instead you have to select numerous codes separately.
    And my ongoing frustration (as a research librarian) is the abysmal search capabilities. Actually, they are not only abysmal, they are truly mind boggling. The wildcard (*) doesn’t work in any consistent or standardized fashion; Neither does a Boolean OR for that matter. I can find no reference to search guidance. It seems like a couple of years ago I was able to find search help somewhere deep in the site, but for the life of me it escapes me now. And while I’m at it, why not add a title search?
    Two positive changes: I like the “back” key that takes you back to the results list; and now it no longer resets your advanced search parameters if you click on an opportunity. This used to drive me crazy!

  2. …And searches can now include non-alpha characters (like dashes) which used to create havoc with search results.
    These are small compensation for some pretty substantial problems, though. Thanks for your comment, Michele!

  3. Loren Data is one of the largest value added resellers of this data and was the first to put it on the web when it was the Commerce Business Daily (CBD)…even before the government did.
    The update was a shock to us and sent us scrambling. Nice April Fools joke…not! The number of bugs we have uncovered fills several technical pages here.
    Alas, we have found our way through the maze and many might find our free site at http://www.fbodaily.com much easier to use and navigate.
    Good luck to all, and thanks to Dave for starting this thread.

  4. It does LOOK nicer, that’s for sure, Joe. But there are some serious functionality problems with it. I haven’t received a response from FBO.gov people about my bug report, reproduced above…

  5. Transitions take time, we should be patient. The new site not only looks better but has seen its way through many many initial hiccups. Have we forgotten when Apple released its iphone update and things hit the fan, or every time Microsoft releases a new product how many unhappy people there are?
    I believe almost all of the problematic points from your initial posting have actually been addressed already, including wild card searching, multiple classification codes, boolean searches, print previews, mpin and more. Note, the reason behind the mpin was because of the merge of FedTeds, the former site for housing secure files where mpin was a requirement with FBO.
    Change always causes some initial problems. I predict the software to only grow stronger and already see it as light years ahead of the old system in all respsects.

  6. Nope..not fixed yet as far as I can tell. I just tried printing and asides from all of the text being in block format, the synopsis itself was cut short. No matter which browser I try print previewing in or how I change the settings (portrait, landscape, etc.), I can’t get the thing to printout. Only solution has been to print ‘selection’ which is very frustrating. Despite being a government site, I think Symplicity’s contact information should be shown somewhere (page source code perhaps?) so that users can provide feedback.
    If there’s any hope though, I’d say they are probably working on this day and night to correct the deficiencies..let’s hope so. Happy searching..!!

    can anyone help…I have autocad and bentley xm viewer.
    I get the print preview but nothing but a blank page.
    thanks for all and any help

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