GSA expands blockchain procurement pilot
In December 2017, the General Services Administration completed its proof of concept applying blockchain technology to the FAStLane proposal review process for IT Schedule 70 contracts. Now GSA is looking to take those lessons learned and apply them to the entire Multiple Awards Schedules program.
GSA is creating a blockchain-based software layer over the agency’s existing infrastructure that aims to make the GSA Schedules review process transparent and automate financial reviews and processes, creating savings in fixed costs.
“We decided to expand the pilot to include the entire MAS program because we are always looking to improve the customer and supplier experience by making it easier to work with the Federal Acquisition Service,” Bill Zielinski, GSA’s acting assistant commissioner for IT category management and governmentwide IT category manager, told GCN.
Vendors’ financial information will be analyzed through a “smart contract” that compares their financial ratios to the average of companies with the same NAICS code. This nearly instantaneous process “will allow our contracting officers to have quicker access to this financial analysis to make responsibility determinations,” Zielinski said. “We believe this will result in more complete offers at the time of submission and a reduction of the total number of offers referred to a financial analyst.”
GSA’s work builds upon a standardized review process for all schedules that was developed over the last two fiscal years. The agency estimates that the blockchain pilot will save a financial analyst 10 to 15 days when it comes to reviewing each proposal.
Zielinski said GSA sees the potential for using natural language processing as a microservice connected to the blockchain layer. The NLP could “read” the terms and conditions about the goods and services purchased under Schedule contracts to conduct data analytics.
GSA is also incorporating robotic process automation into the acquisition process to speed the collection of pre-negotiation information.
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
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