The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should put a greater emphasis on data to best further advance category management and help leverage the Federal government’s buying power, save taxpayer dollars, and eliminate duplicative contracts.

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, OMB must “focus more on how agencies define requirements for common products and services.” A challenge for OMB includes collecting, analyzing, and sharing data on its spending and the prices they pay. This challenge has hindered the implementation of the category management initiative. GAO recommends that OMB guidance and metrics should emphasize the importance of requirements management.

Further, OMB directs agencies to take certain steps to address government-wide data challenges, however GAO recommends that OMB establishes a strategic plan to coordinate agencies’ responses to data challenges.

“OMB is aware of these government-wide challenges and has directed agencies to take certain steps on their own to address them,” GAO stated. “However, OMB’s Fiscal Year 2020 Action Plan for managing government data states OMB should take a leadership role in addressing government-wide data challenges.”

Overall, GAO made 10 recommendations to OMB for it to increase emphasis on requirements, address data challenges, and improve training for small business personnel who currently receive 30 percent or more of annual category management obligations since 2016. In addition to the two recommendations related to a strategic plan for data challenges and having guidance and metrics emphasize requirements management, GAO made eight more recommendations. The recommendations are to:

  1. Work with the Category Management Leadership Council and the General Services Administration’s Category Management Program Management Office to develop additional tailored training for Senior Accountable Officials and personnel who manage requirements for common products and services;
  2. Account for agencies’ training needs when setting category management training goals;
  3. Hold personnel accountable for defining requirements for common products and services, as well as contracting activities;
  4. Report cost savings from the category management initiative by agency;
  5. Establish additional performance metrics for the category management initiative that are related to agency requirements;
  6. Develop additional tailored training for Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization personnel that would emphasize information about small business opportunities under the category management initiative;
  7. Update methodology for calculating potentially duplicative contract reductions to strengthen the linkage between category management actions and the number of eliminated contracts eliminated; and
  8. Identify time frames covered by underlying data when reporting on how duplicative contract reductions have impacted small businesses.

OMB has “concurred with the substance of GAO’s recommendations.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.