A multi-year contract awarded to IBM and others will consolidate and upgrade the General Services Administration's acquisition systems.
The General Services Administration is embarking on a major overhaul of its acquisition systems, this week awarding a $74.4 million, 8-year contract to IBM and several other companies who will consolidate nine separate databases into a comprehensive source for government contracting information.
GSA's acquisition systems have come under repeated fire from government auditors and watchdogs in recent years, even as the agency collapsed many disparate systems into a few and began work on its Integrated Acquisition Environment. It has made efforts, over the past several years, for example, to consolidate help desk functions.
Testifying before the Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs in September, federal CIO Vivek Kundra acknowledged that the independent development of each of the existing acquisition systems on different hardware and software by different contractors has led to headaches.
"In this complex and stove-piped environment, it was difficult to respond to policy or technology changes in a timely manner," he said. "This limitation led the procurement community and GSA to explore an integrated approach to optimize the performance of the IAE as a whole. Much work remains. We must continue to focus on improving data quality, increasing transparency, and enhancing service delivery."
The Office of Management and Budget will work with both GSA and the contractors as the effort moves forward, Kundra said at the time.
The databases being consolidated include the publicly available FedBizOpps contract solicitation database, a contractor registration database, a database about federal entities that buy and sell from other federal entities, a database of parties excluded from receiving federal contracts, a database for prime contractors to report subcontracting work, a contractor performance database, and a repository of federal contract actions over $3,000.
Much of the final form of the consolidated acquisition environment, including whether certain systems and databases may change or be retired, is yet to be determined, according to IBM public sector managing director Chuck Prow.
The project will integrate the databases into a single, open source system IBM says will simplify the acquisition process, ultimately providing contractors, the government and public with a "one-stop" shop for federal acquisition data.
"There are a series of redundant acquisition processes which support these nine systems, much of the data is redundant, and how agencies and contractors integrate with those systems is also redundant," Prow said in an interview. "This is an opportunity to take the best practices across those systems and creating this common acquisition environment."
Northrop Grumman, Vertex Information and Computer Consulting Services, Inc., and Collins Consulting, Inc., will help IBM on the effort.