GSA acquisition database integration pushed back to 2018

The General Services Administration (GSA) pushed back the planned completion date of an integrated acquisition database to 2018 because of development problems and cost overruns, GSA Assistant Commissioner Kevin Youel Page told a Senate panel March 6.

“We’ve suffered our own missteps,” Page said during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight.

Plans were made in 2001 to combine governmentwide acquisition databases into a single system called the Integrated Acquisition Environment.

But the project has been plagued with problems.

A March 2012 Government Accountability Office report says cost overruns, which grew by 89 percent, were largely due to mistakes GSA has made. GAO initially estimated it would cost about $95.7 million, but the 2012 estimate came in at $181.1 million.

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Data on contractor past performance is missing or inaccurate

Four interagency databases designed to warn contracting officers about a company’s past performance are riddled with problems that can become expensive agency boondoggles, a senator declared at an oversight hearing Thursday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., blasted as “shockingly old and clunky” the databases pioneered by the Navy and now administered governmentwide by the General Services Administration, calling for more complete information on whether contractors, for example, have been suspended and debarred.

She criticized the Office of Management and Budget for not sending a witness to a hearing she held as chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs contracting subcommittee. McCaskill also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “could have avoided a black eye” for the “very public failure” of the rollout of the website last fall had it been able to discover more on the past performance of the contractor CGI Federal.

Since passage of the 2002 E-Government Act, agencies have sought to consolidate and centralize online data on contractors’ performance history including contract terminations, criminal acts and administrative adjudications. The chief databases that managers may consult include the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), the Federal Awardee Performance Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) and the System for Award Management.

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Sharing contractor performance data in eight easy steps

The Obama administration is pressing the acquisition workforce to get better at telling other agencies, through a governmentwide online performance database, how well contractors do their jobs.

Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, wants to improve the quantity and quality of data agencies put into the Federal Award Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

FAPIIS is the foundation for good data, Jordan stressed in the memo, dated March 6.

“However, ” he added, “agencies must increase their use of these tools, as underreporting performance information leaves the government vulnerable to poor acquisition outcomes in the future.”

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Public release of contractor data delayed

Contractors can still challenge information tjat goes into the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity System, but they have just a two-week window before the information becomes public.

The new provision takes affect Jan. 17, 2012. The start date was missing when the final rule was published Jan. 3.

Any information that agencies enter into database from Jan. 17 onward will be subject to a two-week delay before it is transferred to the publicly available part of FAPIIS. Past performance information won’t be published at all. Contractors will receive notice when new information about their company goes into FAPIIS, and they will have 7 days to point out information that should be exempt under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the new Federal Register notice, officials wrote that the delay until Jan. 17 will give agencies time to complete necessary system changes to support the two-week waiting period before contractors’ information goes live.

The current system is designed to automatically transfer information to the publicly available part of FAPIIS. Until officials make the change, companies would not have an opportunity to request withholding the information, the notice states.

FAPIIS is a one-stop website for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government. It includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which cites companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting.

The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.

If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public website within 14 days after beginning entered into FAPIIS, according to the notice.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Jan. 11, 2012 at

Deadline set fighting disclosure of contractor work history

The Obama administration solidified an interim rule that requires agency officials to post a government contractor’s work history in a publicly accessible website.

The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) is a one-stop web site for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government.

FAPIIS includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which lists companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting. The overall purpose of FAPIIS is to make it easier for contracting officers to get an overall assessment of a company before awarding a contract by not having to search numerous databases.

A year ago, acquisition officials issued an interim rule making all the information public, except for past performance reviews by agencies.

The final rule took effect Jan. 3.

In the Federal Register notice about the rule, officials recognized the risks about the information going public though.

The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt from disclosure. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.

If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public site within two weeks after the review period began, according to the notice.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week.   This article appeared Jan. 4, 2012 at

Move over, FAPIIS – POGO freshens up its contractor misconduct database

The federal government’s largest contractors have paid $25.3 billion in fines and penalties for everything from A to Z: from improper accounting practices to selling the government defective Zylon body armor. These and more than 1,400 other misconduct instances can be found in the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), which has now been updated with fiscal year 2010’s top 100 ranking.  [Note: The FCMD is published by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog group.]

The top 100 features 7 new contractors, including international accounting firm Deloitte LLP, package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS), and linguistic services provider Mission Essential Personnel. The FCMD now includes misconduct information on 160 of the federal government’s largest suppliers of goods and services.

The top 100 contractors received $276 billion in contracts last fiscal year, accounting for slightly more than half of the $536 billion in contracts awarded that year. As of today, these 100 contractors have accumulated 821 misconduct instances. Thirty-eight of the top 100 have zero or one instance, a reminder that misconduct need not be accepted as a cost of doing business with the federal government.

As has occurred in the past, the data on which the top 100 ranking is based contains errors. Therefore, you will see double listings for Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

Among the instances you will find in the FCMD:

POGO’s FCMD complements the federal government’s contractor responsibility database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, or FAPIIS. POGO was pleased to discover the recent addition of several new useful features to FAPIIS, which is on its way to becoming an indispensable resource that strengthens accountability over the more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent each year on federal contracts and grants.

– Neil Gordon is a POGO Investigator.  Published Sept. 29, 2011 at

DoD contracts went to excluded vendors

The Pentagon obligated millions of dollars in payments to contractors that were on lists of “excluded parties” because of previous fraud, a report made public Wednesday said.

The report, produced by the Defense Department’s office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, found that between 2007 and 2009, DoD did business with at least 16 vendors who were either suspended or debarred at the time the funds were obligated. Congress mandated the report in the 2010 Defense appropriations bill.

The spending included nearly $3.4 million to five vendors who were suspended and almost $2 million to 11 debarred vendors.

DoD’s report explained that in some cases, contracting officers knowingly continued ordering from the excluded vendors “to ensure mission accomplishment and for safety and mission requirements.” In others, however, Defense officials failed to check the vendors against the governmentwide Excluded Parties Listing System.

“The Federal Acquisition Regulation was misinterpreted and/or training was inadequate with regard to EPLS – an issue subsequently addressed by commanders,” the report stated.

The report found that DoD and the justice system have adequate remedies to pursue and prosecute contractor wrongdoing, but said the review that led up to the report revealed the need for new guidance on EPLS within the DoD contracting community.

The report stated that the director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy’s new guidance also will include instructions for using the new Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who inserted language into the 2010 Defense spending bill mandating the report, made the information public. He seized on the report’s broader revelation that DoD had continued contracting with companies who had been subject to criminal or civil fraud judgments at some point.

The report found that DoD spent $345 million on payments to vendors that had been criminally convicted during the three-year period, $4.9 billion to vendors with civil judgments against them during that time and nearly $46 million to contractors that had reached out-of-court settlements related to fraud.

“With the country running a $14 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money,” Sanders said in a statement. “The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.”

The government in recent years has been aggressive in combating fraud. The Small Business Administration suspended GTSI for small business contracting violations.

The Environmental Protection Agency suspended IBM in 2008 as well for alleged procurement integrity violations.

DoD said its Panel on Contracting Integrity would examine the new report and make further recommendations to Defense leadership based on their review.

– By Jared Serbu, Feb. 2, 2011, Federal News Radio

Contractor performance database goes public in April

A new government database that tracks contractor misconduct and performance, previously available only to federal officials, is expected to be made public by April 15, Government Executive has learned.

In one of the most dramatic steps to date in shining a light on the conduct of firms that do business with the government, the General Services Administration will open its Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System — otherwise known as FAPIIS — to public scrutiny within the next three months, GSA’s Senior Procurement Executive Joseph Neurauter said in an interview on Thursday.

A provision in the wartime supplemental appropriations bill, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, mandated that GSA disclose on a public website all information in FAPIIS, with the exception of past performance evaluations.

The bill did not provide a deadline for publicizing the information, which now is accessible only to a handful of government officials, lawmakers and contractors that are listed in the database.

“This is a good thing because it gives more transparency,” said Neurauter, who also serves as GSA’s suspension and debarment official. “That’s really what we are about. The more information that you can legally and within reason make available to the public, the better.”

FAPIIS, used by federal contracting officials since April, culls information dating back five years from a number of disparate federal databases and government records.

The database includes criminal, civil and administrative proceedings against suppliers in connection with federal awards; past performance evaluations; records of suspensions and debarments; administrative agreements issued in lieu of suspension or debarment; nonresponsibility determinations; contracts that were terminated for fault and defective price determinations.

And in a new development, the database also will include instances when a company’s behavior might have put its employees in harm’s way.

A provision in the fiscal 2011 Defense Authorization Act requires department contracting officials to publicly disclose cases when a procurement official denied or reduced a contractor’s award fee because of a company’s reckless or negligent behavior. The database also will include a determination of fault by Defense Department leadership.

For contracts above the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000, federal contracting and grant officers are required to check FAPIIS before making a responsibility determination. The new public site, Neurauter said, will be searchable and user-friendly.

While much of the information available in FAPIIS is already publicly available on myriad federal websites, the data has never before been comprehensively assembled for public viewing.

On Monday, Jan. 24, an interim rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register informing the contractor community that FAPIIS data soon will be made public, Neurauter said. The public will have 60 days to comment on the notice.

But contractor officials already are raising concerns that opening the database to the public could jeopardize the integrity of the acquisition process and potentially risk the disclosure of private information.

“Making this data public opens the door to all kinds of misperceptions, misunderstandings and even mischief,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an industry trade association.

GSA officials are aware of industry’s concerns and are taking steps to redact data prohibited by the 1974 Privacy Act or that concerns a contractor’s proprietary information. Other information also could be withheld based on pending litigation, according to Neurauter.

“We can’t mindlessly put things in there,” he said. “We have to give it thought and consideration and understand there is a balance of competing regulatory and statutory interests that we have to be mindful of.”

Soloway, however, is concerned that the administration has yet to develop governmentwide business rules spelling out how contracting officials should use the information in FAPIIS. For example, the government has not provided guidance to procurement officials regarding how much weight a years-old tax discrepancy or equal employment violation should have in a company’s post-award responsibility determination.

“We are looking for clarity on how this information is going to be used,” Soloway said.

The Federal Acquisition Institute has developed a tutorial detailing the purpose of FAPIIS and the types of data it will include. The site is available at

 — By Robert Brodsky – – January 21, 2011