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Nov 17 -- The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is proposing a new OMB Circular, Strategic Management of Acquisition Data and Information. The purpose of this Circular is to improve agency access to reliable data and information. Using relevant acquisition data throughout the acquisition lifecycle facilitates successful contracting outcomes. This Circular establishes a centralized data management strategy to create robust knowledge and data banks, develop standard data sharing processes, and improve agency access to tools and resources for acquisition-related decision-making. Interested parties should submit comments in writing to the address below on or before January 16, 2024.

There are tens of billions of acquisition data points residing in over 170 contract writing systems (including legacy systems) and over 15 payment processing platforms across the Federal enterprise. Historically, much of this data has been collected and managed by agencies. Agencies have used their resources to build tools within their agency, harnessing internal data and databases, but this has often led to duplicative tools and efforts and a lack of coordination across agencies. This approach has limited Government-wide capacity for analytics, insights, and efficiency gains other than the System for Award Management and the Federal Procurement Data System, which generally provide aggregate data but very little pricing and best practices information.

To address these challenges, the proposed Circular would establish a new acquisition data management policy of promoting Hi-Definition (Hi-Def) acquisitions where agencies are able to acquire supplies or services using acquisition data that is easily accessed and available at the time of need. To that end, OMB is creating a Hi-Def acquisition framework to promote data interoperability, sharing of acquisition data between agencies, and enterprise-wide data analysis. This framework is supported by a Hi-Def acquisition data environment that includes a scalable technical architecture and solution to store, access, utilize, share, and archive acquisition data without having to duplicate data, tools, or effort. Hi-Def acquisitions are a critical component of the acquisition community's work to buy as an organized enterprise, as it will provide access to the breadth and depth of information needed to support the activities of the largest and most sophisticated buyer in the world.

Achieving a Hi-Def environment will require greater transparency and collaboration in agency data systems planning and investment decisions where these activities would impact the Government's ability to achieve data interoperability for information that is critical or can otherwise significantly improve acquisition decision-making at both the Government-wide and agency-wide level. To this end, the Circular (1) establishes interagency governance, (2) defines agency roles and responsibilities, and (3) supports the design and development of solutions to drive interoperability, allowing systems to connect and share acquisition data wherever they reside within the Federal government without duplication.

Of particular note, the proposed Circular would:

-- Require agencies to prepare annual strategic plans. Agencies will report on steps to address general data management stewardship, government-wide priority initiatives and individualized acquisition data hurdles or responsibilities that may impact other agencies.

-- Build appropriate centralization. The Circular will support centralized standards, knowledge banks, and data-sharing tools using established and strengthened governance. Existing standards and processes will be updated, modernized, and enforced through greater transparency and interoperability. Data sharing tools will allow agencies to maintain existing systems but create the ability to pull data from the source where it resides for much improved analytics and insights. Shared solutions will increase efficiency across all agencies.

-- Promote data-sharing technologies. The Circular prepares agencies for an interoperable future where all acquisition data can be shared and accessed. Current Hi-Def efforts are being conducted through pilots on a voluntary basis to address challenges in interoperability. The Circular anticipates that agencies will begin exploring, planning for, and building application programming interfaces (APIs) and other access points while and working within the governance structure to develop appropriate standards and processes. It provides a mechanism to enable agencies to ask for further direction and resources in these endeavors from OMB and through the budget process. Increased collaboration between agencies will facilitate knowledge and best practices sharing from agencies that have already explored the implementation of these tools internally, as well as the related pilots.

-- Establish policies for agency collection and sharing of their acquisition data. Contract cost efficiencies increase when buyers are able to improve their negotiating posture with access to standardized transactional data that can give them insight into prices paid and favorable contract terms and conditions. Accordingly, with limited exception, agencies will be expected to centrally collect acquisition data, such as, but not limited to, market research, contract documents such as statements of work, performance work statements, statements of objective, terms, conditions, prices paid for commodities or services, and other data or information that a contracting official, program official or other member of the integrated product team would use during the acquisition lifecycle as part of their stewardship responsibility to obtain best value for the Federal government. Agencies should share their data with GSA and other agencies responsible for data collection so that the information may be analyzed by data and market experts and made available for agency use, including through on-demand tools that the agencies create. GSA and other data collection agencies will use data sharing agreements, as appropriate, with data protection and security protocols to prevent against the unauthorized disclosure of data. OMB will work with agencies to develop data sharing agreement templates to address how information is accessed, used, and shared.

-- Establish an interagency working group. In order to determine the best implementation of data sharing, such as APIs, across contract writing systems, the working group would bring together contract writing system managers, computer engineers, and acquisition data experts. As an initial step, agencies would conduct an initial assessment of their contract pricing and invoicing data to establish an agency baseline and determine the variation of starting points between agencies.

-- Facilitate other collaborative actions and workforce development with data management. Agencies would be expected to actively contribute to existing knowledge portals on innovative techniques and emerging technology and support expansion, implementation, and promotion of acquisition data management training and certification efforts for the acquisition workforce.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-25370

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