GSA extends price data pilot

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The General Services Administration is extending its three-year Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot program by another year as it busies itself pulling its multiple buying schedules into a single entity.

The TDR pilot collects pricing data from vendor volunteers, including prices paid by government customers, for products and services sold under GSA contracts. The data gathered could level out pricing for federal buyers. When it was launched, GSA's internal watchdog characterized it as "the most significant change to GSA's Multiple Award Schedules Program in over 20 years."

TDR is intended to replace GSA's Commercial Sales Practices, where contractors disclose commercial sales data and the Price Reductions Clause that requires vendors to adjust pricing for an item across the board if they negotiate an initial lower price for it with a single agency.

An acquisition rule published in 2016, looked to reduce burden and increase transparency by requiring monthly reporting of transactional sales data from governmentwide contracts, including the Multiple Award Schedules contracts. TDR was implemented as an optional, three-year pilot that includes eight specific schedules and associated special item numbers.

By moving to TDR, GSA is looking to align its huge buying vehicles more closely with category management practices and foster smarter buying by federal agencies which will have more detailed, comparative data to find best values.

Last summer, the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) questioned the pilots effectiveness in gathering that data.

In a July 2018 report, the OIG said the pilot's metrics won't allow GSA to accurately measure how TDR data could improve the value of the agency's multiple award schedules. It lacks performance targets, and a majority of metrics depend on data that is not available for use. The pilot covers some the agency’s largest multiple award contracts, including select SINs in IT Schedule 70.

The IG recommended GSA set performance targets for each metric it used in the pilot and to insure the data is available and accurate. In its response, the GSA responded it felt the measurements it had in place were adequate for the beginning stage of the pilot.

Last July, FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas echoed that response saying GSA was only halfway through the pilot, saying it was "just getting to the point where data can be harnessed" with it. He added the agency might make some tweaks to the pilot based on the report.

"GSA is focused on consolidating all 24 Schedules into one single Schedule," said a post on the agency's Interact site. "As such, GSA has decided to extend the TDR pilot through FY2020, which allows both contractors and the GSA acquisition workforce to spend their resources understanding and participating in the consolidated Schedule - the most immediate priority."

The extension, it said, would also allow more data about TDR in the consolidated schedule environment.

The decision to extend the pilot, said Roger Waldron, president for the Coalition for Government Procurement in an email to FCW on Aug. 19, "makes good business sense for its customer agencies and industry partners." The extra time, he said gives the pilot stability while GSA moves to consolidate its multiple award schedule program.

The consolidation, he said, is the "perfect opportunity" to get rid of the price reductions clause. "The PRC is simply bad procurement and economic policy," he said.

According to GSA, contractors participating in the voluntary TDR pilot will still submit monthly sales reports to the agency's acquisition service portal. Contractors in the SINs under the pilot can still opt-in to participate in the program.

GSA said it would take stock of the pilot at the end of fiscal 2020 and decide whether to cancel, continue or expand the pilot to all the SINs on its schedule.

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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