Streamlining Government Procurement by Using Machine Learning and Natural Language Analysis

The Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTECH) awarded a Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS) grant to Optimal Solutions Group (Optimal) and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) jointly to build an automated government procurement decision support tool.  The work conducted over the next year will focus on creating a deep learning algorithm as the backend of a tool for government agencies’ procurement processes. Using administrative data from the System for Award Management (SAM) and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) this tool will allow contracting officers to make quicker, more valid, and equitable evidence-based sources sought and award decisions. Government agencies will also be able to identify whether and which small, veteran owned, minority owned, and other disadvantaged firms have the capability to meet specific procurement requirements.

For business owners, this tool will make it easier to identify and rank their chances of being deemed qualified for a specific solicitation. 

The principal investigator for the decision support tool is Dr. Tim Oates of UMBC’s Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He is an expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with twenty-five years of experience between academia and the private sector. Optimal’s senior data scientist, Mr. Sadaf Asrar, will serve as the project director, bringing in his experience and subject matter expertise in developing statistical and machine learning models to inform government procurement practices.

MIPS provides funding—matched by participating companies—for university-based research projects that help companies develop new products. Projects must deal with innovative technological or scientific concepts and have direct commercial applications. Find out more about the MTECH’s MIPS.


Optimal Solutions Group, LLC  

Founded in 2000, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC, is a nonpartisan public policy research and data analytics firm located at the University of Maryland’s Discovery District in College Park. 

Revelo Software

Revelo Software was spun off from Optimal Solutions Group in 2019.  Revelo is a software development firm based in College Park, Maryland and has deployed SaaS applications that are being used by multiple federal agencies.  Its newest software application is iAccessible, a platform for ensuring that digital products are accessible to people with disabilities. 

Optimal CEO Joins Panel of Judges for Economic Opportunity Challenge

Economic Opportunity Challenge logo

The MacArthur Foundation and its affiliate Lever for Change, has launched the Economic Opportunity Challenge aimed to improve the financial health of low-income individuals and families in the United States. The panel will select up to five finalists that present the best evidence-based, data-driven solution on how to improve economic opportunities for low-income families and communities in the United States.

During the challenge, organizations are able to use existing evidence-based results to prove that their proposed plans are necessary to achieve and implement the goals of the challenge. This challenge aims to create a permanent change for lower-income individuals and communities in the United States. The winners of the challenge will have their proposed solutions implemented country wide.[1] “Over 40% of children born in the bottom quintile of the income distribution in the U.S. will remain in the bottom as adults. Lever for Change is excited to partner with the family foundation that is sponsoring the Economic Opportunity Challenge to find evidence-based, scalable approaches to improving economic opportunity and mobility in the U.S.” states Dr. Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change.

Interested 501(c) (3) organizations are encouraged to register no later than January 28, 2020 and submit their applications by February 18, 2020.  Evaluation of the submitted proposals will take place between March and April 2020. Optimal’s President and CEO Dr. Mark Turner will join the panel of subject matter experts as a judge. He has a 25-year track record evaluating wide-ranging economic and workforce development initiatives.  Dr. Turner and his colleagues at Optimal recently completed a study of the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program and is currently evaluating the Regional Innovation Cluster initiative for the U.S. Small Business Administration.  He also has also evaluated international economic development and entrepreneurship programs in Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the West Bank.  At the local level, Dr. Turner recently served as a judge for the Raising Young Entrepreneurs’ Montgomery County Children’s Business Fair; he also serves on the University of Maryland Department of Economics Leadership Council.

In November 2020, up to five winners will be awarded grants from the challenge. The winning grant will total $10 million, and a $100,000 grant will go to the remaining finalists of the challenge.  


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