FAS won't ditch pricing tools

NOTE: This article appeared first on

The General Services Administration's internal watchdog recommended the agency's acquisition service stop using two comparative labor-pricing tools because of flawed data, but the agency pushed back saying it planned to keep the tools in use.

In a late December report, GSA's inspector general recommended that the Federal Acquisition Service stop using the Contract-Awarded Labor Category tool (CALC) and Contract Operations Division Contractors Database labor category pricing tool (CODCD). The tools, it said, use inconsistent data in inaccurate equations to arrive at unreliable pricing data. The data and calculations, said the IG, are so flawed, they're dulling the federal government's buying power edge, as well as possibly resulting in overpayment on contracts.

FAS Acting Commissioner Julie Dunne agreed with the IG that the CALC and CODCD labor pricing tools are not the best. She also concurred on the need for better guidance and pricing comparison capabilities, but Dunne stopped short of ditching the tools altogether.

She told the IG that such an action could prompt even more inaccurate, inefficient practices. 

For instance, she said, without the tools, contracting officers would have to resort to individual searches on labor pricing via the internet, a scattershot approach that could bring in even more inaccurate data.

Dunne also said that in the end, decisions on the reasonable comparison pricing for labor has always been the judgment of FAS contracting officers.

"Disallowing access to aggregated information about previously-awarded MAS contracts does not further our goal of improving pricing. Quality price analyses are the result of training, expertise and appropriate controls. FAS believes our continued focus in these areas will improve how comparative data is used in our MAS award documentation," she said.

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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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