New procurement rule boosts price transparency

GSA hailed a big change to transactional data reporting rules for its Federal Supply Schedules Program as a pivotal moment in procurement.

room of computers

Under a new rule that went into effect on June 22, the General Services Administration has eliminated two complex award-tracking requirements while mandating that federal contractors supply more detailed data on the prices agencies are paying for goods and services through certain contract vehicles.

The Transactional Data Reporting rule does away with commercial sales practices disclosures and the price reductions clause in federal contracts, GSA said. The final rule will be published in the June 23 Federal Register.

GSA requested the change in March 2015, saying at the time that it anticipated saving millions when the rule moved forward.

Under the rule, contractors must electronically report key procurement data for all purchases made through GSA contract vehicles, including prices paid, quantities, standard part numbers and product descriptions.

The agency characterized the rule as "one of the most transformational changes" to its Federal Supply Schedules Program in 20 years.

Officials said the removal of the award-tracking requirements, combined with the collection of transactional-level procurement data, will result in an estimated burden reduction of $29 million a year across GSA's governmentwide procurement vehicles.

The rule will be implemented through a pilot program that includes Schedule 70, which covers IT equipment, software and services.

Officials at GSA and the Office of Management and Budget have said detailed spending data is critical to supporting category management practices -- which are designed to streamline purchasing in specific areas such as IT -- because it allows contracting officials to compare what others agencies have purchased, paid and used.

Furthermore, GSA said the new transparency will help the government capitalize on its buying power and build on strategically sourced contracting efforts across government.

"This is an important step forward for the [Obama] administration's successful category management initiative," said Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in a joint statement with GSA.

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