InfoReliance to build competitive-sourcing database for OFPP

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy finally will have an easier way to collect data to see whether the Bush administration's competitive-sourcing initiative is living up to its claims of saving billions of dollars and improving efficiencies.

The General Services Administration, acting as the procurement arm for OFPP, late last month awarded a contract to InfoReliance Corp. of Fairfax, Va., to construct a database that will gather information about each agency's public-private competitions of inherently commercial federal jobs, as well as the agencies' workforce inventories of which positions are considered commercial.

A GSA spokesman said contract is for one base year with four one-year options, and is initially funded at $300,000 for the first year. GSA issued the contract through the Federal Supply Service's IT schedule.

"We did not have this before," said Robert Burton, deputy administrator at OFPP, at a recent conference sponsored by the Contract Services Association of America based in Arlington, Va. "Data is very important, especially when you [are] reporting to Congress on a routine basis and to the taxpayer on how we are doing on these initiatives."

The administration claims competitive sourcing will save about $1.4 billion over the next three to five years. The database, Burton hopes, will provide a clearer picture of how the initiative is working.

OFPP's current process depends on spreadsheets sent by e-mail. OFPP staff and contractors then compile the information manually.

"Use of spreadsheets is burdensome and inefficient, and limits [the Office of Management and Budget's] ability to fully and effectively analyze the effects of competitive sourcing," the task order said.

The contract calls for InfoReliance to set up two secure online databases to track competitions and agency workforce inventories. The Web site will accept bulk input of data or users will input data through a graphical user interface (GUI), the task order said.

OMB said in the task order that agencies with large amounts of information, such as the Defense Department, will bulk-load their data, while agencies with less data, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would use the GUI.

OMB Circular A-76 requires agencies to report quarterly on in-progress and completed competitions. Officials will use the database to track ongoing and post-competition implementations, according to the task order.

The workforce inventory database would replace another inefficient process where OFPP staff and contractors must load agency data and reformat it into a standalone database, OMB said in the task order. Agencies submit inventories annually.

"We like data on all our initiatives," Burton said. "It is hard to authoritatively speak about results without data."

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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