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GSA, Industry Meet about Controversial Transactional Data Rule

Reporting for the Federal Times, Carten Cordell writes that a General Services Administration (GSA) roundtable meant to “calm” industry anxieties about the agency’s transactional data rule revealed industry and government remain far apart on the rule. Cordell offered three takeaways from the meeting: 1) Industry fears the data rule may push government buyers to lowest-price vendors, rather than best-value; 2) Centralizing procurement may stifle innovation; and 3) GSA has to ensure it’s using the data correctly in the pilot program.

The Pitfalls of Procurement Innovation

Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association, writes about the push and pull of innovation, particularly in public procurement. Fischetti notes that while many will call for innovation, there is often little support for the inevitable failures of testing out a new approach. “So what’s the contracting officer or program manager to do? Everyone wants innovation in acquisition, but not really? Take risks, but make sure everything works out well? Leadership has your back, as long as [insert favorite oversight authority or trade association here] is supportive,” he writes. “Buy more commercial, but make sure [insert favorite administration, agency, industry priority, or compliance and socioeconomic statutory and regulatory requirements here] is adhered to and included.”

Hail to the Contracting Officer in Chief

An article by attorneys for Pepper Hamilton, LLP, looks at President Donald Trump’s approach to the F-35 program, in which a series of tweets seemed to have caused shockwaves among defense acquisition professionals and suppliers. But the paper argues that while the president may have some influence, decisions are, in the end, governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and tweets are not enough to conduct a full market research effort.

UK Cracks Down on Tax Evasion and Avoidance

The UK’s central government has said all local councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must identify any history of tax evasion and avoidance on the part of potential supplies, dating back to October 2012. The ruling applies to any contracts or tenders initiated after October 2016. According to The Guardian, “this new ruling requires councils to ask a more detailed set of questions that encompass both outright illegal practices and aggressive tax dodging that is outside the spirit of the law and something tax authorities are at last beginning to clamp down on.”aggressive tax dodging that is outside the spirit of the law and something tax authorities are at last beginning to clamp down on.

Democratic Lawmakers Seek More Info on Old Post Office Lease

In a new twist in the ongoing saga of President Donald Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office from the General Services Administration (GSA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has ordered the GSA to release information related to the lease. Cummings evoked the “seven-member rule” of the House Oversight Committee. Cummings is seeking reports on revenues and expenses from Trump to the GSA; and any correspondence between the Trump transition team or the president and GSA. Yesterday, it was reported the president had signed his lease over to his son.

Calls for Reform in Mississippi

The Northside Sun of Jackson, Mississippi has published an editorial calling for concrete procurement reforms in the wake of a lawsuit filed by former Jackson Equal Business Opportunity Manager Stephanie Coleman, alleging abuse of the system. Coleman alleges in her suit that she was pressured to steer contracts to the mayor’s friends, among other abuses. One of paper’s core recommendations is to “[c]reate a new statewide Office of Procurement to regulate all procurement at all governmental entities throughout the state, including cities and counties.”

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