Mission: A better procurement database

Federal acquisition executives met with industry representatives Monday

to outline the planned transition from a 20-year-old procurement database

to a system that will enable agencies to better tie their procurements to

their mission.

The Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) began collecting information

on agency procurements in 1978. Since then, the types of information that

agencies need and the systems they use to collect that information have

changed and multiplied, leaving agencies, the private sector and Congress

with an out-of-date system for more than $200 billion in federal procurement

information.

"We either needed data to do our jobs or data to perform our missions

that we couldn't get out of the system," said David Litman, vice chairman

of the Procurement Executive Council and senior procurement executive for

the Transportation Department's Office of the Secretary.

So the PEC, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General

Services Administration formed a steering committee and began developing

a new system — the Federal Acquisition Management Information System (FAMIS).

FAMIS will save agencies the time, money and personnel now devoted to

maintaining "feeder systems" for getting the performance-related information

they need before sending procurement data to the FPDS.

"The opportunity to put those funds to better use is going to be the

central point of our business case," said Bill Mounts, director of international

and commercial systems acquisition at the Defense Department.

FAMIS also will help agencies find out how their acquisition functions

are affecting their ability to comply with the Government Performance and

Results Act, whether they are meeting their small-business goals and many

other business-related functions.

"If [procurement executives are] going to be business leaders, we're

going to need the data to perform that leadership," Litman said.

Industry representatives expressed concern that the steering committee

will not be able to bring all of the different agency requirements into

a single proposal, which could lead to increased customization and more

stovepipes.

However, when the committee issues the request for proposal sometime

before the end of the year, it will have one focus and one system, said

Jack Finley, deputy director of governmentwide information systems at GSA.

"We want data to be put in once, [and] we want it to be accurate and

user-friendly," he said.

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