News in Brief

GSA pricing, tech bills, Data Act oversight and anti-robocall prizes

Pricing

GSA eyes changes in price listings

The General Services Administration is looking to change its rules for vendors' price listings on its schedule contracts.

In a proposed rule change unveiled March 3, the agency asks for public comments on amendments to the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation that would require vendors to report transactional data from orders and prices paid by ordering activities, including orders placed against both Federal Supply Schedule contract vehicles and GSA's non-FSS contract vehicles -- governmentwide acquisition contracts and governmentwide indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quality contracts.

GSA wants to roll out the changes first in a pilot with a non-schedule contract, then move on to schedule contracts.

The proposed rule change stems from recommendations in a 2010 Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel report, according to the Professional Services Council. The changes are aimed at providing agencies with information on prices actually paid for transactions entered into and providing some modicum of relief from the price-reduction clause by establishing "transactional data reporting" pilot program and eliminating price reduction clause reporting requirements for covered contractors.

PSC Executive Vice President and counsel Alan Chvotkin welcomed the proposed changes, but said they were long overdue. Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement said he "welcomed the dialog," but had questions about costs that might be associated with the changes.

Dodaro says GAO will be involved early in Data Act oversight

Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn was one of the most reliable spending hawks in the Senate, and he took a special pleasure in exposing examples of waste, overpayment and duplicative spending. With Coburn's retirement, the job of trying to hold the line on questionable overspending is up for grabs, but Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) seems like a good candidate.

In a March 4 hearing, Enzi said that "one of the ways our chronic overspending problem could be improved is with a commitment to rooting out the needless, duplicative spending in our government."

In his written testimony, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who heads the Government Accountability Office, noted that federal IT spending was added to the latest edition of GAO's "High Risk List." Dodaro noted that "the federal information technology acquisition reforms enacted in December 2014 reinforce a number of the actions that we have recommended to address IT management issues."

Dodaro also told Senators that the GAO would be taking an early look at Data Act implementation, in May when government faces its first deadline under the legislation – the establishment of data standards for agencies to implement.

"The bottom line is, they got off to a decent start," Dodaro said. "I'm cautiously optimistic. There's a lot that needs to be done, and GAO will be involved early, advising the Congress."

House panel reports 5 tech bills

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on March 4 approved a handful of bills designed to boost U.S. scientific competitiveness.

FTC crowdsources anti-robocall tech

The Federal Trade Commission is recruiting allies in its fight against the growing ranks of annoying robocalls, the computer-generated telephone calls employed by an increasingly grating population of product marketers. The FTC unveiled two contests asking for the public's help in developing technology that can strike back at the annoying calls that come in on landlines and mobile phones.

The first contest asks the public to crowd-source a robocall "honeypot" decoy that can attract the calls, then gather the associated embedded call information. The second contest would develop a system that can analyze data from an existing honeypot.

The agency said the challenges are part of its "long-term multi-pronged effort" to strike a blow against illegal robocallers. Contestants could win a $25,000 top prize for their ideas.

The FTC launched a qualifying phase on March 3, which runs through June 15, with a second and final phase concluding in Las Vegas at the DEF CON 23 hacker convention on Aug. 9.

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