Open Data

Storehouse of procurement numbers could aid Data Act implementation

Joe Jordan

FedBid's Joe Jordan, the former administrator at the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, says reverse auction data can help agencies meet Data Act transparency standards.

Procurement data accumulated as part of federal agencies' online reverse auctions could boost the transparency of federal spending called for by the Data Act, according to a top executive at auction platform provider FedBid.

The measure, expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama in the coming days, will require the government to publish spending and financial information according to common data standards. Once implemented, all federal agencies would have to report spending on grants, contracts and loans in machine readable form via USASpending.gov or a successor website.

That process, said Joe Jordan, president of FedBid's public sector and a former administrator at the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, will be daunting.

The challenge will be how agencies can access the myriad data sets across government to get meaningful, readable information. "There's no disaggregated information," he said, meaning things like granular pricing data for goods and services are not broken out uniformly.

FedBid, said Jordan, has helped foster the government's embrace of a more open procurement data environment and the company could provide a starting point as agencies move forward on Data Act implementation. "The Data Act requires sharing standardized data and common contracts," he said. "Our system is already there," breaking out details on contracts, prices, small business participation and other metrics.

The company, he noted, has helped the federal government with other targeted procurement data projects in the past. It supplied the pricing data that went into the development of RFP-EZ, an acquisition tool developed by the Small Business Administration and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program aimed at widening federal procurement avenues for small businesses.

Additionally, said Jordan, the company tracks a variety of data for federal agencies through the reverse auctions it conducts. The company co-owns -- with federal agencies -- the pricing and spending data amassed in those auctions.

Agencies have access to all of that data, he said, which can include detailed pricing information. Granular pricing data "is huge" for agencies because it's not all that common for agencies to have internally, he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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