SARA panel pushes for better procurement data system

As part of its overall focus on more transparency in government contracting, the Acquisition Advisory Panel is calling for a slew of changes to the way federal procurement data are gathered and processed.

The panel -- known as the SARA panel after the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003 that authorized it -- didn’t have procurement data on its original slate of things to look at, but it decided to tackle the issue as a result of its own attempts to obtain data.

Those efforts to get usable data from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG), the only governmentwide system that tracks federal procurement spending, were mixed, the panel said in its recently released final report.

In its findings, the panel said competition data on orders under interagency contracts were unreliable and didn’t match the confidence of initial reports that indicated those contracts achieved high levels of competition.

The report also states that FPDS-NG’s usefulness was compromised by users entering data inaccurately, data on ordering trends not being readily available for analysis, the system’s reliance on voluntary funding contributions for its operation, and a lack of granularity necessary for the kinds of analyses needed for spending and strategic decisions.

As part of its recommendations the panel said the Office of Federal Procurement Policy should immediately correct the reporting rules for competition. It is “imperative that the data reflect the actual level of competition on the order, not on the master contract level,” it said.

It also recommended that Congress revise the OFPP Act to assign responsibility to agency heads for timely and accurate data reporting to the FPDS-NG or any successor system and that agencies be required to train their workforce to accurately report contract data.

OFPP also should devise ways of adding more data-reporting requirements that would allow for better strategic sourcing and market research within and across agencies, the panel said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

Featured

  • Telecommunications
    Stock photo ID: 658810513 By asharkyu

    GSA extends EIS deadline to 2023

    Agencies are getting up to three more years on existing telecom contracts before having to shift to the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle.

  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen

    OMB looks to retrain feds to fill cyber needs

    The federal government is taking steps to fill high-demand, skills-gap positions in tech by retraining employees already working within agencies without a cyber or IT background.

  • Acquisition
    GSA Headquarters (Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

    GSA to consolidate multiple award schedules

    The General Services Administration plans to consolidate dozens of its buying schedules across product areas including IT and services to reduce duplication.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.