NEW OMB CATEGORY MANAGEMENT MEMO PROMOTES BIC CONTRACTS, DATA SHARING
Federal agencies will increasingly be expected to make common purchases from Best In Class (BIC) contracts per a new memo made public last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While agencies may still buy from agency-wide and localized contracts, OMB expects that agencies will increasingly implement Spend Under Management (SUM) practices with the goal of greatly reducing non-aligned or inefficient spending. Small business and other socio-economic requirements must also be met, but it is clear that the net effect of this memo will be to reduce both the acquisition vehicles and number of contractors that currently participate in the federal market. Another key provision of the memo is that agencies will also be expected to share prices paid on various contracting vehicles on the Acquisition Gateway. Contractors can expect to share the burden of providing this information, but should also be pro-active in educating their customers on what is likely to be the very limited utility of prices paid information. To be clear: Prices paid information really only works with commodity or commodity-like items. As the government is a net buyer of services and solutions that vary considerably by agency, requirement, timing, and other factors, posting prices paid on solutions will likely cause confusion, provide information of little utility, and increase acquisition cycles. Inevitably, contractors will have to explain very legitimate differences between prices posted on the database for past buys and prices offered on new opportunities. This will increase contractor workload, a factor that will inevitably be passed along to buyers. Contractors should, in any case, be familiar with the memo.