White House wants better deals from contractors

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A new administration push is underway to use procurement data and purchasing power as part of efforts to generate more savings.

The Biden administration is looking for better deals on products and services supplied by federal contractors.

The Better Contracting Initiative unveiled Wednesday looks to leverage the size and scope of the federal enterprise to obtain lower prices on commonly used goods and services, including enterprisewide licensing deals on software. 

The effort is being launched, in part, because contractor margins at some of the largest companies doing business with the government are "historically high," according to a fact sheet on the initiative. The White House anticipates more than $10 billion in annual savings and cost avoidance from the adoption of the new strategy.

The strategy includes a new plan for centralized contracting data management to allow for governmentwide access to pricing and supply chain information. According to the fact sheet, the information "will be provided to agencies and their contracting professionals using on-demand tools and resources commensurate with the largest and most sophisticated buyers in the world."

The White House is also looking to enterprisewide software licensing as a way to reduce spending and make costs more predictable. The new initiative calls for the General Services Administration to lead on a governmentwide licensing agreement with an unnamed "large software provider," which the White House says will help "capture 25% in efficiency gains [and avoid] the wasted effort of having each agency individually plan, research and negotiate for the same common requirement."

Other pillars of the strategy include getting better value from sole-source contracts when those are necessary, improving the requirement development process for high-priority acquisitions and expanding opportunities for professional development for the acquisition workforce.