Prices paid data – Shouldn’t it be easy enough for a caveman to query?

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    Stephen
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    I recently talked with some acquisition pros from different agencies to figure out how they collect prices paid data on their agency’s everyday supply and service purchases.

    The answers were varied but usually followed a common theme: a mix of web-based and software purchasing systems, with prices paid data that is limited and hard to get at. Definitely not something a caveman could pull off. Why is that?

    It’s no different at my agency. When it comes to collecting and viewing past prices paid even for basic supplies, we have a number of different sources, but none is web-based and nothing close to ‘real-time’, like for example truecar.com or pricegrabber.com is for cars and retail items.

    We have a software system that runs on our PCs, and collects purchase data, which is honestly not too bad in terms of detail, but you have to build complicated specs in order to pull the data out of this old COBOL-built dinosaur. You have to look up the word ‘concatenate’ just to make sure you’re doing it right.

    Our web-based supply purchases are a bit better, however the same applies to getting that data and using it – you have to run complicated queries using business objects. Lot of manual labor for some basic prices paid data that’s stale as soon as you run it. Some real-time stuff would be quite handy.

    What if we had a web-based tool that took in multiple agencies’ purchasing data, that showed real-time, or close to it, prices paid, down to the line item level (part number, quantity, price, shipping, ship-to-zip, special packing, and agency-data as well, like agency name, dodaac, and other data). This would be a HUGE enabler for Federal Strategic Sourcing, which is high-on-the-radar of the Administration.

    Help me out 1102s or anyone with purchasing exposure at a federal agency – what systems are used where, and what kind of data can you get?

    One step further: is anybody building APIs for their data, so we can start plugging them into web-based apps, and start cracking this nut?

    Feel free to reply direct as well to [email protected].

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