IRS Floats Experimental Contract Vehicle to Help Administration Meet Procurement CAP Goals

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The tax agency is using Pilot IRS—an iterative funding vehicle—to work on a governmentwide acquisition initiative.

The IRS wants to mash up acquisition data to find insights into federal buying patterns and is using its experimental Pilot IRS procurement vehicle to test out new ideas.

The tax collection agency is working with the Office of Management and Budget on the Frictionless Acquisition Cross-Agency Priority, or CAP, goal, which “calls upon the government to modernize the collection, analysis, availability, and visualization of acquisition data for smarter and faster mission decision-making.”

To supplement this work, IRS officials are looking at current and innovative ways to combine distinct databases and sources on labor and wage rates into coherent, easy-to-use datasets with visualization and other analytical tools.

As part of this effort, the agency tapped its relatively new Pilot IRS program, which uses procurement methods in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to develop a phased funding contract vehicle that supports research and development. The program launched in early 2019 with a $7 million funding ceiling. But after some early successes—and well-managed failures—the program is growing in scope, both monetarily and programmatically.

The Pilot IRS program issued a request for information Tuesday to solicit feedback on “innovative data mashing solutions,” including current data matching and visualization tools; new ways to combine existing technologies; advice on where the project should focus its efforts; and how small businesses can be incorporated.

 Overall, the project is looking to accomplish three goals:

  • Bring together multiple data sets into an easy-to-use visualization or tool that provides comparison points for evaluating labor rates proposed for use in government contracts.
  • Promote use of this information by government personnel during the independent government cost estimating, source selection and contract negotiation processes.
  • Achieve near-term and incremental improvements in the number of data sets included, rigor of the analysis, etc.

“Maximizing the use of existing labor/wage data should result in better acquisition planning, improved contract negotiations and lower taxpayer costs,” the RFI states. “Furthermore, combining multiple data sources in a user-friendly format should allow use of this data in a ‘just-in-time’ fashion to make smarter and faster decisions.”

The RFI also asks for input on how much a support contract should cost. IRS officials estimate the initial investment in a proof of concept should run about $50,000 for 120 days. But project managers want better figures on initial and long-term costs.

Responses are due by 8 a.m. August 17.