Lack of transparency hurting government contracting

The lack of transparency around task orders and RFIs is common across government and its time to do something about it.

We all like it when people agree with us so I have to call attention to a recent LinkedIn posting by Jaime Gracia that rifted off of a blog I wrote last month about the lack of transparency in awarding task orders.

Gracia, CEO of Seville Government Consulting, agrees with me about the need for more transparency and raises some additional points worth calling attention to.

“There simply is too much secrecy with the amount of money flowing through all the contract vehicles across government,” Gracia wrote in his LinkedIn post. “I know many small businesses spend countless hours trying to find out information about these activities, with little success unless you have some insider knowledge.”

While I was focused on task orders, Gracia also pulls in the lack of transparency around the pre-solicitation process. He thinks there needs to be more transparency around responses to sources sought notices.

I agree.

Gracia wrote:

Currently, firms can list themselves as an “interested party”, and appear under the tab labeled Interested Vendors List. What if we took this a step further, eliminated the Interested Vendors List, and actually created a way to show firms that have actually responded, and create a tab with this data called “Respondents”?

A respondents category would eliminate the unqualified and unscrupulous and firms that are just fishing. It would provide usable data for firms interested in the opportunity.

Small businesses for example could use the data to help find teaming partners, Gracia said.

While he doesn’t mention this, Gracia’s posting reminded me of another point that Keven Barnes raises in his protests to GAO – agencies not using FBO.gov to solicit contracts. Instead they use their own websites and do not simultaneously post to FBO.

Posting sources sought and solicitations and awards to FBO should be a requirement if it isn’t already. And if it is a requirement, there should be some enforcement.

The need for transparency also was brought home to me by the recent FCW.com story we reposted on our site about the continued growth of governmentwide contract vehicles. Billions and billions of dollars follow through these contracts but unless you are a prime there is little insight into what is being bought, who is buying it and who the winners are.

Both from an oversight perspective and a business development perspective, more transparency is needed.

As Gracia says there is no need for all the secrecy.

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