IN CASE IT WASN’T CLEAR: GSA EXPECTS YOU TO POPULATE ITS PRICES PAID SYSTEM
It should not be news by now that GSA is setting up a “prices paid” comparison tool so that buyers and others can have near-real-time pricing information when purchasing from GSA Schedule contracts. Where is GSA going to get this data? From you, the contractor. GSA is moving toward requiring all Schedule contract holders to provide information on all Schedule transactions to populate its database. A mere 20 years after getting away from the need for transaction-based information, GSA is coming full circle and is poised to demand it, at least for Schedule transactions, again.
FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe rationalizes the request by saying that the information is something companies already have since they know what their invoices say. That may be true, but just because there’s a birds nest in a tree, doesn’t mean it’s accessible to a bird on a different branch. The fact that there may be significant costs associated with the capture and provision of this information in the format required for this specific purpose either alludes FAS leaders or is not of much interest. We will leave for another time the discussion of whether the provision of this information will actually lead to higher prices as companies become reluctant to offer discounts they know others will see. In the meantime, companies need to let GSA, OMB, and Congress know how much this soon-to-be data collection requirement will cost everyone. Nothing comes for free, even at Christmas.