Acquisition Reform:

NASA's Internet Service Improves Access to Contracting Information

NSIAD-99-37: Published: Feb 9, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS), focusing on: (1) whether NAIS is an effective mechanism for disseminating procurement information to industry, including small businesses; and (2) the status of efforts to develop a governmentwide electronic procurement information system similar to NAIS.

GAO noted that: (1) NAIS is a simple, effective, and user-friendly system for disseminating information on contract opportunities; (2) NAIS has contributed to the development of a more standardized and streamlined acquisition process at NASA and provides a central electronic source of procurement information from NASA's decentralized facilities; (3) it allows businesses to obtain procurement information immediately, without waiting for mail delivery of printed information; (4) vendors especially like the electronic mail notification service that automatically sends announcements about procurements of interest to them; (5) vendor feedback about NAIS came primarily from small businesses and was generally positive; (6) procurement data showed that offers and awards to small businesses did not change significantly after NAIS implementation; (7) NASA noted that data limitations made it difficult to quantify other NAIS benefits; (8) NASA, the General Services Administration, and other federal agencies are working together to develop a single, governmentwide Internet entry point for information on federal procurement opportunities; (9) but a number of steps must still be taken and many obstacles remain; (10) even if the new system is successfully developed and implemented governmentwide, current statutory requirements for publication of procurement notices and minimum waiting periods for mail delivery may continue to limit the potential benefits of an electronic procurement information system; and (11) the same legislation that encouraged NASA and others to work together also requires the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to submit to Congress annual reports assessing compliance with the requirement to provide direct access to procurement information through a single governmentwide electronic point of entry.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Effective October 1, 2001, FedBizOpps was designated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation as the mandatory "Governmentwide point of entry (GPE)" for posting government business opportunities greater than $25000. Contracting officers had been required to direct the GPE to forward the notice to the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). Agencies are no longer required to provide notice in the CBD effective January 1, 2002, since access to this information will be provided on the Internet through FedBizOpps.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, should describe the current plan for implementation of a governmentwide single point of entry to procurement information in its next annual report to Congress. This plan should take into consideration the status of and lessons learned from the multiagency Electronic Posting System pilot and its potential as the basis for a comprehensive governmentwide electronic posting system.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the Administration submitted to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, as part of the defense authorization package, a proposal addressing procurement notice requirements and waiting periods. However, the proposal was omitted from the version of the proposed legislation submitted to the Conference Committee. Alternately, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations implementing such changes. The proposal is currently out for a 60-day public comment period that ends on October 25, 2000.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, should determine whether the issues raised by agency officials concerning procurements notice requirements set forth in statute, including waiting periods, require legislative action and make recommendations to Congress on legislative changes, if necessary.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy

 

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