The Federal Procurement Data System Could Be an Effective Tool for Congressional Surveillance

PSAD-79-109: Published: Oct 1, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 1979.

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The effectiveness of the Federal Procurement Data Center was examined. The extent of completion and acccuracy in the Center's procurement data reporting system varies for the different agencies involved. Fifty-six agencies are required to report, 36 have reported in a satisfactory manner. However, 20 agencies have not reported, reported in part, or submitted reports not in accordance with prescribed instructions. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) plans to issue another letter to the various activities on the need for reporting the required data. Center personnel believe that the 1979 reports should be considered as test reports. However, once fully operational and debugged, the system will still have limitations.

The Federal Procurement Data System relies on the integrity of many individuals to prepare reports and to prepare them correctly. If, for some reason, a report is not prepared, the data on the contract award will not enter the system. Furthermore, the Center has no means for knowing whether data are reported for all contracts. Therefore, a test or audit of the data collection system is needed after an appropriate period of operation. If test results disclose that a significant number of contracts have not been reported, it may be necessary to institute some method of internal control. The Center has developed a comprehensive edit program which will detect inconsistencies and omissions such as identifying failure to complete or fill in items shown on the reporting form. Using the edit program at the agency level would reduce the Center's workload and provide agency personnel with greater confidence in the data received. The Center and the Department of Defense (DOD) had a number of disagreements or disputes. Some were of long-standing and were brought to the attention of OFPP. In view of these differences, it was suggested transferring the Center from DOD to the General Services Administration; such a transfer is desirable. It has the added advantage of placing the Center with its mission of providing Government-wide procurement statistics in an agency that has other Government-wide responsibilities.

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