GSA response: Improving info

The new generation of the Federal Procurement Data System is light years ahead of the system it replaces. In keeping with the precepts of the President's Management Agenda, it provides the public with greater access to government data.

The system will meet the needs of citizen-centered government and replace a 25-year-old system that was less responsive and less oriented to the demands placed on government.

The Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) is a major information technology integration project. It will collect more contract facts than the old system from about 60 federal agencies covered by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. FPDS-NG is designed to make more data available online around the clock to Congress, federal agencies, industry and the public.

As part of an open competition, GSA officials took advantage of the private sector's superior IT expertise. They solicited and reviewed bids before awarding an eight-year contract to Global Computer Enterprises (GCE) Inc. of Reston, Va., in April 2003. Under the $24 million contract, which has three base years with five one-year options, GCE officials will develop and maintain an efficient, cost-effective system for collecting and disseminating data.

GCE's expertise will help GSA's efforts to:

Expand access to contract data.

Provide real-time data and standard reports.

Eliminate data-collection redundancy.

Improve data-reporting accuracy.

Lower agencies' reporting costs.

Unlike data in the old system, data in the new system will be available via three online methods:

Standard reports.

Individual queries.

Integration directly with FPDS-NG through Web services.

GSA and GCE officials are discussing the company's proposed marketing and data-dissemination plan. We are in the final stages of negotiating the costs of providing data to the public. The discussions are consistent with the requirements of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130, which allows for recovery of the costs to disseminate government information. Therefore, neither GSA nor GCE officials will make a profit from the sale of data.

GCE must obtain written consent from GSA officials to sell or otherwise dispose of FPDS-NG data. GSA owns the information in the database, and GCE is not authorized to sell or otherwise dispose of it without GSA's approval. GCE, however, owns the system that collects and disseminates the data, and therefore, the government has no authority to provide any elements of that system to the public.

GCE officials must provide full access to resellers, the media and other FPDS-NG users. GSA's program office will continue to ensure open access and can be reached at (202) 219-3416.

Although not all agencies have begun fully reporting, we expect to have all 2004 agency data reports many months earlier than in previous years. They will be available to the public immediately. Under the old system, information was not available for at least a month.

Drabkin is GSA's deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy. FCW gave GSA the opportunity to respond to Paul Murphy's comments.

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