GAO: Improve the data

The only system in the federal government that provides contracting information is hard to use and out of date, the Government Accountability Office said in a letter last week.

The letter to Joshua Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, details GAO's concerns and offers recommendations about the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG).

The General Services Administration had maintained FPDS until 2003, when the agency awarded a contract to Global Computer Enterprises (GCE) to modernize and manage the system, which was renamed FPDS-NG. The contract called for a two-year transition period that ends in October. GCE began providing information to the public through FPDS-NG in December 2004.

Among GAO's main concerns:

n The Defense Department, the largest contracting entity in government, is still not electronically submitting data to FPDS-NG.

n Although agencies were instructed to review and correct their data before connecting to FPDS-NG and certify the accuracy and completeness of their fiscal 2004 data, GSA has not provided system users with information about the accuracy of the information, contributing to lower user confidence.

n The system could not provide information on interagency contracting, such as when one agency uses a governmentwide acquisition contract held by another agency.

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