Council sets $35m plan for e-acquisition in ’06

Procurement chiefs call for freezing funds for some parts of the project

The government’s procurement chiefs know what they want to spend on a federal acquisition portal; now they have to make sure the government’s money chiefs will pony up the funding.

The Chief Acquisition Officers Council this month approved a $35 million, fiscal 2006 spending plan for the Integrated Acquisition Environment e-government project, said Mike Sade, the Commerce Department’s procurement executive and director of acquisition management.

The council wants to allot money for the operation and maintenance of some of the project’s well-established parts, such as the Federal Business Opportunities portal, Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation and Central Contractor Registry.

It also wants to devote funds to development efforts such as a subcontractor reporting system.

Quick freeze

But money for some efforts will be frozen until the council decides how to go forward. In all, IAE has 17 component projects.

Programs not allotted funds for 2006 would still continue and be available to agencies on a fee-for-service and subscription basis, said Sade, chairman of the council’s E-Government and Performance Management Working Group.

The council sent its recommendations to OMB last week. Sade would not provide more detail on which projects the council suggested freezing, because OMB must approve the plans first.

Earl Warrington, IAE deputy program manager at the General Services Administration, said withholding funds for some projects would not affect the initiative’s ability to improve federal procurement.

“The council had to make certain priority decisions on applications that provide service to users, and the lifecycle of those systems over the next few years,” Warrington said. “As we improve our enterprise architecture, we hope to take advantage of the economies of scale so maybe more applications will move online more quickly.”

Sade said the $35 million would come from agency contributions based on use of the systems. For fiscal 2004, agencies kicked in about $21 million, and they will provide roughly $16 million this year.

The council rated and ranked all 17 IAE projects, looking at questions such as whether a service is required by law or regulation, what the expected return on investment is and if the service is a necessity or luxury, Sade said.

Cash poor

“We also looked at the cost of operation and maintenance of all the systems,” he said. “We could do the development of all 17, but our budget was not big enough to keep them going.”

Some projects already are moving forward. For example, a contract to develop the subcontractor reporting system could be awarded as early as Sept. 30, said IAE project manager Teresa Sorrenti.

It will give vendors one place to register their subcontracting activities. Currently, they use systems run by the Energy and Transportation departments and NASA.

The IAE team also is reviewing 118 responses to its request for comments about posting contract documents on the Web. It’s still unclear if this application is feasible, Sorrenti said. Currently, the public and vendors must obtain the documents from each agency.

Although many of the comments favored publishing all contract information on the Web, many agencies expressed concern that the administrative burden might outweigh the benefits.

Others said they feared classified and proprietary information might be posted inadvertently.

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