Tuesday Insight – January 16th, 2024: White House Reveals Better Contracting Initiative

Jan 29, 2024

Echoing the Obama administration’s Better Buying Initiative, and as a next phase in the federal government’s enterprise approach to procurement, the Biden administration announced the Better Contracting Initiative — a four-pronged initiative designed to ensure the federal government gets better, and more consistent, terms and prices when purchasing commercial goods and services, while enhancing support for small and disadvantaged businesses.

The fact sheet noted that the enterprise approach to purchasing common goods and services under the Obama administration resulted in better deals that has avoided $90 billion in costs for taxpayers since fiscal year 2016.

The first prong addresses how the Office of Management and Budget will leverage data across federal agencies to get lower prices and better terms. Under the initiative, OMB will launch a new, centralized data management strategy and tools to allow for greater sharing of price data and information on vendors and contracts across agencies within the federal government. This sharing of information will not only result in better value solutions but will also advance equity by allowing federal procurement officials to focus their searches on information that could support decisions to use a small business set-aside, according to the fact sheet accompanying the announcement.

One of the assumptions underlying the need for more information is OMB’s assertion that “contractors [are] operating at historically high margins,” the fact sheet said.

The initiative’s call for collecting and centrally managing commercial procurement data echoes the transactional data reporting approach adopted under the General Services Administration Multiple Award Schedules program. The administration presumably hopes that it will drive greater savings and more pricing consistency, consonant with the type of benefits that GSA reported after implementing transactional data reporting.

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