OFPP convinced FPDS will meet spending law requirements

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. ' The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is confident that the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation will be able to handle the requirements Congress stipulated under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.

In fact, Paul Denett, OFPP administrator, yesterday said that the General Services Administration has been working on the accuracy of the system, and it should be in good enough shape to handle the contracting part of the requirements. Denett said the grants requirements system is a different story.

'It makes sense to use it,' he said at the Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council. 'There aren't a lot of weaknesses in the system. The only thing we will have to work on is getting subcontractor data in greater detail.'

President Bush signed the federal spending database bill into law in September, and OFPP has until January 2008 to implement a database for all federal spending on procurement and grants.

The project, led by Robert Shea, counselor to Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management, will kick off officially in the next month or so. OMB has held a couple of internal meetings, and Johnson is expected to release a memo outlining the project in more detail in the next week. Johnson will ask every agency to nominate one person to be a part of the governmentwide working group.

Denett said once the details are fleshed out, OFPP likely will run a pilot for subcontracting data.

In addition to the federal spending bill, OFPP is focused on a number of other issues, Denett said.

Denett asked the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council and the Government Accountability Office to take another look at GAO's framework, 'Assessing Acquisition Functions at Federal Agencies,' in order to expand its use governmentwide.

'GAO did a lot of work, and I am surprised we haven't heard much about it,' he said. 'GAO has given us the right metrics to make sure our team is positioned to do good work.'

Denett said he hopes to 'embrace' the framework in the next month.

He also plans on asking agencies to assess their acquisition workforces and see where they have skill gaps.

Denett said his office also will continue to push for the correct use of performance-based contracting. He said the number of performance-based contracts increased to 40 percent in 2006 from 26 percent in 2001. But, he cautioned, because acquisition workers were not well trained to use this type of contracting, many contracts are considered hybrids'part performance based and part non-performance based.

Every agency submitted their performance-based contracting plans last week, which included their objectives to use the contracting method, he said.

'We want to make sure people are comfortable and have the depth of knowledge to use it right,' Denett said. 'We rushed to implement it, and too many people did not do their homework and were not trained well enough.'

Finally, Denett said, the Small Business Administration will release its final rule on how often small business need to recertify themselves as small. Denett would not comment on the rule but said OFPP has signed off on it, and now it is up to SBA to issue it in the next few weeks.

'I think SBA did a good job in compromising after listening to DOD, small and large businesses,' he said. 'It was a tough call.'

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