Agencies look to streamline payment data collection in contracting

Jason Reed/Getty Images

The keepers of the federal government's acquisition rulebook – GSA, DOD and NASA – want to increase automation in payments to contractors.

The General Services Administration , Department of Defense and NASA are aiming to improve data collection processes and the use of information collected around payments made to federal contractors, according to a request for information released this week.

The joint RFI seeks feedback from stakeholders on ways to improve proposed data collection requirements under the Federal Acquisition Regulation part 32, which sets procedures for contract financing and certain payments in federal acquisitions. 

The proposed requirements would require contractors to take steps to support electronic payments. Under the proposed requirements, contractors would also be provided with further clarity on what constitutes a "proper" invoice under the FAR, including requests for details like a description of the supplies delivered or services performed, while standardizing the process for those requesting advance payments. 

The RFI reflects a push by the federal government to streamline and rationalize its data collection procedures and requirements for contract payments, according to Ross Nodurft, executive director of the Alliance for Digital Innovation.

"Anytime you can reduce duplicative data, that's always for the better," Nodurft told FCW. "This may make it easier to do contracting and business with the federal government in the long run, and I'm glad they're looking into this sort of thing." 

Agencies are also considering the use of automated collection techniques and other methods involving information technology, the RFI suggests, while assessing ways to both reduce the burden of the proposed information collection requirements on contractors and enhance the utility of that data. 

Contractors will also be required to include new substantiations in their requests for progress payments and report additional details on specific project costs and financial needs.

Comments are due May 20.