GSA's proposed pricing data rule questioned

Industry representatives voice concerns about compliance costs and protection of pricing information.

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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.

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