GAO: OMB needs to ensure better procurement data

The Office of Management and Budget must do more to ensure the reliability of federal procurement data, including reviewing agency procedures for collecting and reporting information to the Federal Procurement Data System, the General Accounting Office said.

In a letter to OMB director Joshua B. Bolten yesterday, the audit agency said the new procurement data collection system the General Services Administration is implementing will solve many of the errors that plague the current system, but that more has to be done.

"In the long term, data reliability will improve as agencies fund and implement electronic contract writing systems," said William Woods, GAO's director for acquisition and sourcing management, in the letter. "But not all agencies have done so. In the short term, as the transition to [the new system] occurs, agencies that do not have contract writing systems capable of interfacing directly with [the new system] need to review their procurement data feeder systems and take steps to improve the reliability of the information contained in those systems."

GSA awarded a $24 million contract to Global Computer Enterprises Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., in April to replace an antiquated procurement data collection system with the new Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation. Agencies started submitting data in October, and GSA will shut down the old portal after they finalize the fiscal 2003 numbers.

But GAO said OMB needs to provide more oversight of agencies to make sure they "allocate the resources necessary to implement contract writing systems capable of electronic transfer of information" to the new system.

Agencies should conduct annual reviews of their procedures for reporting and collecting procurement data until "a satisfactory level of reliability is achieved," GAO said.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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