Government Consultants:

Standard Definition and Uniform Data Needed

FPCD-78-5: Published: Nov 29, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1977.

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It is not possible to determine the extent of the use of consultants by the Federal Government, at what costs, and for what purposes. Five sources of centralized information were identified: The Senate Committee on Appropriations; the Senate Subcommittee on Reports, Accounting, and Management; two divisions of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Although data available at these sources vary considerablely, two data systems being developed have the potential of improving the information. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy, OMB, is developing an automated system that will report much information on each Government consultant contract over $10,000 and provide some information on contracts under this amount. CSC is developing a system to replace its personnel data file which will contain more data on Federal employees and on appointed consultants. Lack of agreement by agencies on definitions of consultants, with more than 20 different definitions noted has made it impossible to determine how many consultants are used by the Federal Government and at what cost. The Comptroller General has suggested that an information system rather than a reporting system be applied to agencies to identify consultant usage. He also recommended modification of the definition of consultant, use of uniform data elements in data systems, and that OMB should be the single authority for prescribing the standard definition to be applied, data and files to be maintained, and reports to be prepared.

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