GSA Announces Plan to Simplify Federal Contracting

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Initiative puts expert advice in specific acquisition categories.

The General Services Administration’s contracting division is developing a new Web platform and business structure to bring more expertise to complicated acquisitions, the agency said on Wednesday.

The new initiative, called Category Management, will involve assigning a Federal Acquisition Service manager in charge of each of several acquisition categories, such as information technology, professional services and travel.

Those managers will help develop a Common Acquisition Platform with information about contract vehicles, historical prices and other data related to specific procurements, FAS Commissioner Thomas Sharpe said in a 1,000-word blog post.

The acquisition platform will eventually include several tools related to specific categories of government purchases, according to the blog post, including:

Procurement Optimizer: A comprehensive contract-comparison search engine that enhances competition for government acquisition

Market Intelligence Center: Category-centric market research materials that guide purchase decisions based on a category manager’s governmentwide expertise.

Clear View: Real-time data on pricing and purchasing, as well as assessment tools that help provide a big-picture view of government and individual agency spending behavior.

Collaborative Contracting Library: Resources to jump-start procurements with a central repository of exemplary contract work for complex buys compiled by community experts.

eMarketplace: An eCommerce transaction platform for simple purchases.

Category management is modeled on the buying practices of successful private sector organizations and is a follow on to the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, Sharpe said.

There have been numerous calls from Congress to simplify government acquisition procedures, which are seen as overly complex and onerous, often delaying purchases for months or years. Technology purchases are sometimes delayed until the technology itself is out of date.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which passed the House in February, includes a pilot program for a governmentwide collaboration center that would assist agencies with especially complicated technology contracts. Similar legislation is awaiting action in the Senate.

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