Acquisition

GSA's proposed pricing data rule questioned

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A rule proposed by the General Services Administration to gather pricing data from contractors is part of the agency's effort to boost contract efficiencies and agencies' buying power. But contractors are concerned that it could be costly and compromise their pricing information.

In March, GSA proposed a change to its acquisition regulations that would require vendors to report transactional data from orders and prices paid by ordering activities, including orders under Federal Supply Schedule contracts, non-FSS contract vehicles, governmentwide acquisition contracts, and indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts.

At a daylong public meeting on the proposed rule at GSA's Washington headquarters on April 17, agency officials said the proposed change would help address several challenges GSA faces with multiplying contracts, price differences among contracting vehicles, general transparency and rules that in some cases were put in place before the Internet took hold.

Kevin Youel-Page, assistant commissioner of GSA's Integrated Award Environment, said the information gathered under the proposed rule would help give federal customers a system that better fits their needs.

"The federal government is the biggest buyer on planet Earth," he told the audience of contractors and federal employees gathered to discuss the proposal. "We need to act like it."

Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, reminded the audience that the federal procurement process "is plagued by complexity and duplication." The proposed rule would bolster OFPP's "new vision" for federal buying, including the expansion of data-driven procurement practices and category management programs across the entire federal government, she added.

The public meeting was convened to solicit public comments on the proposal and answer questions, said Jeff Koses, GSA's senior procurement executive.

Those GSA officials and Mark Lee, deputy director of the Office of General Services Acquisition Policy, Integrity and Workforce, were peppered with questions from the audience about how contractor pricing information would be shared and how the federal workforce would access that information.

Competitive unit pricing information would be protected, Koses said, adding that GSA's acquisition workforce would view the information via the Acquisition.gov gateway. Youel-Page said the site restricts access to those who are authorized to use it.

Contractors and other industry representatives in the audience also asked how much it might cost for the systems they say they would have to build to collect the information required under the proposed rule. They also raised the possibility that the rule would push contractors to GWACs run by agencies other than GSA.

Comments on the proposal are due by May 4.

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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