Commerce Dept. not accurately reporting contracting data to FPDS-NG database

The Commerce Department isn’t accurately reporting contracting data to the federal government’s main procurement database, says a recent Commerce inspector general report.

Commerce Dept.The IG originally initiated the investigation to determine whether contracting officials effectively managed undefinitized actions, or a contract for which the terms, specifications or price are not agreed upon before the work is started. Undefinitized actions are only meant to be used to meet an urgent requirement, the report says.

But because NOAA and NIST incorrectly coded some of their contract actions as undefinitized in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, or FPDS-NG, the IG redirected the investigation to see how much of the reported data is accurate.

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Feds buy back USASpending website after contractor bankruptcy

The government procured its own spending transparency website and the primary data system behind it on the same day last month the contract to manage the systems was set to expire, new documents show.

The move frees up previously contested federal contracting data, which will facilitate increased competition for future contracts, according to outside observers and the General Services Administration.

It’s unclear if the purchase became necessary to keep the site running or if the opportunity arose as a result of Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.’s financial instability, which led to a bankruptcy filing last month.

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DOL could go it alone with acquisition platform

The Labor Department is seeking information on commercial capabilities that could help it better manage acquisition information as a subscription.

The department is interested in a dashboard that could provide access to regular acquisition news updates, and access to Government Accountability Office and other legal decisions, it writes in a May 12 request for information posted to Federal Business Opportunities.

This platform would also provide easy access to forms, templates and checklists, as well as other acquisition related tools and information.

Although the post is not a direct solicitation, even the department’s interest in such technology is notable given the concurrent efforts already underway within government to address the acquisition process.

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SAM ‘inelegant and cumbersome’ says GSA CIO

The System for Award Management (SAM) is operational but it’s not what the future of acquisition systems should look like, said Sonny Hashmi, chief information officer at the General Services Administration (GSA).

Commonly called “SAM,” the consolidated acquisition system launched in August 2012 to bring together three previously separate systems.

“It is still inelegant and cumbersome. We have done just enough to make it operational,” said Hashmi during an April 11 chat on GitHub.

Shortly after the system went live, SAM ran into a variety of problems that required the back-end security architecture, business process management layer and database schema to be completely reconfigured.

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If you encounter a business having trouble getting registered in SAM, be sure to tell them that they should not pay anyone to register their company in SAM.  SAM registration is free!  For details, please visit: 

Study finds limitations in federal grant data

Two academics who set out to analyze government grants to nonprofit organizations found that the databases housing that information continue to resist easy use.

The federal government posts onto data on awards and sub-awards (grants of federal dollars made by an intermediary such as a state government), but when Jesse Lecy of Georgia State University and Jeremy Thornton of Samford University attempted to study 2012 data, they found significant data limitations.

In a Nov. 25 paper, the two academics say their first hurdle was to identify nonprofits within data sets about recipients of federal money, a task made difficult by the fact that the Federal Assistance Award Data System and the Federal Procurement Data System record entities according to DUNS numbers. The Internal Revenue Service tracks entities according to EIN numbers.

Having access to EINs was important to the researchers, since they wanted to match data taken from FAADS and FPDS to nonprofit financial information held by the National Center for Charitable Statistics, which uses the publicly available EINs as its database unique identifier. The center classifies charities according to the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities; correlating federal recipients to their NTEE major category would allow the researchers to identify which sectors receive the most federal support.

Nonprofit Federal Award Recipients, by type, in 2013

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