I wonder if there is anyway to electronically disintermediate the process by which someone wins a government software contract. There much be some way to make discovering contracts easy, quick and cheap and make the process to apply and build those projects super simply. Basically a startup needs to democratize access to these projects so you only need to be only an expert software developer and not a expert government bureaucrat to understand the process to win these contracts.
The system is there. They publish bids out with requirements then there is a process that companies go through to get that contract. So it is better but it is often just the motions, it provide official deniability "see the paper/electronic trail show it was an open and fair bid process".
What often happens behind the scenes is that requirements are written to a specific software product that is already effectively pre-determined. Like let's say it is a complicated inventory tracking system, out of 50 or so requirement points, every one basically matching the system that L3 provides without naming L3. Stuff like that.
It is vital to do behind the scenes networking, hiring insiders, that needs to happen besides also having someone full time that knows how to jump through the "official" red tape.
You should read a few call-for-proposals, it's pretty enlightening. What I learned (hopefully this differs from place to place) is that they write them in such a way that only huge, dishonest shops can respond, by making the requirements huge and contradictory. An honest shop can't call out the contradictions and get the work because "fully satisfying" the requirements is necessary to be accepted. A small shop can't afford the time and expense to respond with a proposal. In both cases you need to build in enough overhead to cover the countless hours spent arguing about the featureset and to afford the lawyers when the litigation comes a few years down the road.
I don't think the government means to lock out small vendors. It's just that bureaucracy tends to generate bloated and inefficient systems like this, in which the only part of the contract the vendor can afford to skimp on is the implementation itself (and not the lawyers, negotiators, managers, etc.) The people who work for the government want good, working systems, they're just prevented from choosing vendors who can produce them because using common sense is not sufficiently bureaucratic.