OFPP reform agenda tilts toward contractors

OFPP reform agenda tilts toward contractors

'We are trying to reduce the redundancy of contractor data collected. We want to have a single e-portal for contractors.'

The Defense Department, the National Institutes of Health and NASA are a step closer to merging disparate past-performance databases.

'We are trying to reduce the redundancy of contractor data that is collected,' said Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. 'We want to have a single e-portal for contractors.'

With help from OFPP, information from the three databases will be stored on a server hosted by DOD and will be available to any source selection official through the Web.

The Past-Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) will be more accurate and reliable than the three separate systems, Styles said last week at an electronic-procurement conference in Washington.

The past-performance system is one piece of the Integrated Acquisition Project, one of the Office of Management and Budget's 24 e-government initiatives. Also on Styles' agenda are efforts to rethink Section 508 application to assure systems access by disabled users and the revamping of outsourcing processes as laid out in OMB Circular A-76.

NASA and NIH are making their past-performance data fields mirror those in DOD's Past Performance Automated Information System. PPAIS has more than 14,000 reports and more than 5,000 users, of which 1,200 are contracting officers. It has been in use since July 2000.

'NIH has the hardest job at mapping,' said Stanley DeWitt, program analyst for DOD's PPAIS. 'NIH has three or four different report formats, and it will be a difficult task to bring them into the 25 elements that will be collected in the new system.'

PPIRS will store data in an Oracle8i database running under Microsoft Windows NT. In the next six months, the system will move to Windows 2000.

DeWitt said the system likely will go live by January.

Styles also discussed the possibility of a new Federal Acquisition Regulation clause on Section 508.

'There is some concern that some agencies are shifting the compliance burden to contractors instead of making sure it's correctly done themselves,' she said.

Styles said that President Bush's commitment to the public-private competition of more than 425,000 federal jobs is also part of the overall plan to improve procurement management.

Styles is a member of the General Accounting Office's Commercial Activities Panel, which will issue a report May 1 on how the A-76 process can be improved.

She said she wants to change the use of cost accounting principles used in agencies' budgets. The fiscal 2003 budget proposal, which President Bush will release Feb. 4, will for the first time reflect the true costs of employee retirement, benefits and health care at each agency.

'This is the first step to hopefully getting rid of A-76 altogether,' she said. 'Getting rid of A-76 might be pretty far away, but knowing the costs of employees to agencies is a very important part of competing positions.'

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