The federal government is the newest occupant in the peep-show district of the business world.
It has moved in with its business partners peep show, a place where anyone — no matter their age — can get a glimpse of what’s happening between government contractors and their partners.
The place where everything’s transparent — the USAspending.gov website — is giving intimate peeks into business relationships with its new subcontracting award information, which went online in December.
To grab people’s attention, the government can advertise that it’s the only place where people have an opportunity to watch company relationships grow closer and then apart as business changes.
The government’s massive website of contracting data posted its first subcontracting award information in December, wrote Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, on the OMB Blog last month. It’s another step toward the ultimate goal of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. For the first time, the public can track a government agency’s payments to a contractor and the contractor’s payments to its subcontractors.
Until now, two companies’ relationship was for the two companies alone. Government officials had regarded the details of relationships between contractors and subcontractors as something they shouldn’t release, said Kevin Plexico, senior vice president for research and analysis services at Input.
That has changed now, though, as officials pull back the curtain on companies’ partnerships.
In early December, Lew wrote that USAspending.gov had roughly 930 subcontracting awards posted, accounting to about $750 million in federal funding.
“We expect this number to increase significantly over time, but it represents a critical milestone in our efforts [to provide] the public with unprecedented transparency into how and where tax dollars are spent,” he wrote.
The show will include some veterans who are used to having their spending figures available for all to see. As prime contractors, they’ve had to do it for years. It comes with being a federal contractor. However, there will be some companies who’ve never shown that much information before.
The transparency requirements “may be uncomfortable for the subcontractors, who, by the way, are not typically exposed to this kind of reporting,” Plexico said.
Nevertheless, the data might be good. The peeks at companies could impress other businesses interested in potential partnerships.
As the amount of subcontractor data increases, “it should be a useful tool for companies and agencies to gain insight into partner relationships and patterns,” Plexico said. The data could also help companies find qualified subcontractors and give more insight into their past performance.
— Posted on Federal Computer Week website, http://fcw.com, by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 03, 2011