As promised in last week’s FAR & Beyond, this week, the focus is on the challenges and opportunities associated with the management of transactional data.

Last spring, GSA published a proposed General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) that would establish a new requirement for GSA contactors (Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contractors, IT GWAC contractors, and other GSA contractors) to report transactional data at the order and Blanket Purchase Agreement level to GSA on a monthly basis. The data elements to be reported include:       

blog pic

The proposed rule retains the Price Reduction Clause (PRC), but it deletes the tracking customer (basis of award) requirement for those MAS contractor reporting transactional data (TD). Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) information still would be required from all MAS contractors along with an ongoing obligation to provide updates throughout the life of the contract.

As you know, the Coalition submitted comments to GSA opposing the proposed rule. To be clear, however, Coalition members do not question the government’s discretion in choosing to use TD as part of the management of the procurement process (what the government will do with all this information is a matter for another blog). Rather, Coalition members are universally concerned about/opposed to “how” the government collects and manages TD.

The proposed rule will impose significant new and costly reporting burdens and compliance risks on GSA’s contractors. Negative impacts will be felt by small businesses, in particular, as they seek to do government-wide business through GSA’s contract portfolio. As noted in our comments on the proposed rule, the Coalition conducted a survey of its members regarding the costs associated with implementing and administering TD reporting.   The survey results revealed that the proposed rule would cost GSA contractors more that $800 million dollars annually to implement. These costs represent an economic drain on the private sector at a time when GSA is seeking to be an economic catalyst.

In essence, the proposed rule will require GSA contractors to aggregate, validate, and report data that the government already has in its possession. The government drafts the statement of work, issues the task or delivery order request, and pays the contractor upon receipt of the invoices. The government already has, in its possession/systems, all the data it is seeking under the proposed rule. As such, TD reporting represents a new form of contract duplication, one that increases costs for contractor and avoids addressing the internal systems needs of the government.   For this reason, Coalition members support a government pilot focused on procurement data collection activities internally across the federal enterprise. This effort could start with assisted services procurement organizations using the GSA Acquisition Hallways.

Along these lines, we wonder whether GSA’s largest customer, the Department of Defense (DoD), is taking an internal data management approach. As noted in last week’s blog, on January 5th, DOD published DoDI 5000.74, Defense Acquisition of Services (the instruction). This new instruction establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction for the acquisition of services across DoD. Enclosure 6 of the instructions is entitled Data Collection, Reporting, and Inventory of Contracting Services. It establishes data collection and reporting requirements to support annual updates to senior officials and Functional Domain Experts. Enclosure 6 states in pertinent part that:

DoD Components will establish procedures to collect acquisition of contracted                 services data. Collection of the data, described in paragraphs 2a-0 of this                   enclosure, will be automated, as it is either already captured in DoD’s standard             procurement data systems or reported under the requirements of the annual                       ICS [Inventory of Contracted Services]. . ..(Emphasis added.)

See page 26, Enclosure 6, Paragraph 2 of DoDI 5000.74.

According to Enclosure 6, among the data elements already captured in DoD’s standard data systems or reported under the requirements of the annual ICS are:

  • Four Digit Product Service Code
  • Total price or estimated value of the contract, task order or interdepartmental Purchase Request
  • Total dollar amount obligated to date on the contract
  • Type of contract
  • Performance-based contract/task order or not
  • Identity of agency that made the award if the award was made on behalf of the DoD pursuant to an interagency agreement
  • Extent of competition
  • Award to a socio-economic category
  • Functions/mission performed by the contractor
  • Contracting organization and customer organization
  • Funding source
  • Fiscal year
  • Direct labor hours and associated costs from contractors to calculate full time equivalents

Although the instruction covers only services, it would be informative to know the specifics of this data collection and to what extent similar information for products/supplies also resides in DoD’s standard procurement systems.

The Coalition believes that DoD’s automated capture of data could be a step on the path towards addressing its internal procurement data collection and reporting needs and might help address the disconnect over TD reporting. For this reason, the Coalition would like to explore the creation of a Category Management Data Working Group led by DoD and GSA, with a charter of identifying strategies/opportunities to facilitate/implement improved internal collection and management of procurement data by the government. As part of its responsibilities, the working group would also conduct market research on pre-existing commercial sources of market data, as well as commercial best practices for the internal management and reporting of TD.

For its part, the Coalition offers to work with its members to identify commercial best practices for the internal management of procurement data. As always, the Coalition looks forward to sharing our research with GSA and OMB.