On February 7, the General Services Administration (GSA) hosted a roundtable panel event to discuss its pilot program under the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) rule. The discussion included Kevin Youel Page, the Deputy Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS); Judith Zawatsky, the Director of GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program Management Office; Elliott Branch, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Acquisition & Procurement); and Larry Allen, the President of Allen Federal Business Partners.
GSA began the event by providing an update on contractor participation in the pilot. Over 1,000 GSA Schedule contractors have opted in for TDR pilot participation, which is over 40% of contractors that are eligible to participate. The discussion then moved to the industry’s three biggest concerns regarding TDR: 1) its impact on current GSA schedule pricing, 2) how the data will be secured and used, and 3) the training of those utilizing the data.
Pricing – It was clear from the conversation that the possibility of decreased GSA contract pricing due to TDR is an ongoing concern among the industry. GSA Schedule contractors fear that TDR data will be used to drive down schedule pricing. Kevin Youel Page confirmed that there is a chance that the TDR data will lower pricing, but that is not and should not be the main intent of TDR data usage. Small business contractors are concerned they will be driven out of the Schedules program altogether, as they fear prices may be driven down so low their businesses will not be able to operate. Overall, GSA did not do much to calm concerns regarding the effect that TDR data will have on GSA contract pricing.
Data Security and Usage – GSA emphasized that this is not the first time they have handled procurement-sensitive data, and that access of TDR data will be limited to a small group of people. Security protocols are being put in place, and users are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before working with the data. The data will be provided to the following groups of users in stages:
Training of Users – GSA discussed that they have been out to acquisition centers across the country twice to train GSA COs on the TDR program. Audience members were very vocal about their concerns regarding GSA COs, including their knowledge of the TDR pilot and usage of the TDR data. One audience member described her experience with her CO while trying to make a modification to her schedule. The CO had no knowledge of the TDR program and insisted on seeing Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) data. According to the rule, COs are not supposed to ask for commercial sales data once a GSA contractor has opted into the TDR pilot. The modification was ultimately rejected. The general consensus around the room was that contractors were having to educate their COs on the TDR pilot program. As a result, GSA determined they will need to go out to conduct training for a third time.
The success of the pilot will be evaluated after one year, with emphasis placed on the 1) impact on Schedules program volume, 2) socio-economic impact, and 3) how TDR data is being used to inform buying decisions. At this time, we are still not certain when the one-year evaluation period began. The final rule was issued on June 23, 2016 and the pilot was incorporated into the first Schedules in late August, 2016. The pilot launched a final affected Schedule in January 2017.