FFATA pilot rumored

Word reaches me that OMB is moving ahead with a pilot FederalSpending system, relying on federated search technology coming from the Navy. Agencies that will apparently participate in the pilot include the three GMLOB leads (Education, NSF, and HHS/ACF), HUD, and DOD.

This federated search approach is certainly a sensible way to achieve the aims of the legislation. It avoids data privacy and propriety issues, which could have otherwise derailed an attempt to gather all the data in one place. However, it also gives every participating agency (e.g. every Federal agency) more responsibility. Everyone will need to have their own local store of the required contract and grant awards data, and most agencies simply don’t have that resource — not the hardware and in many cases not even the data!

But the agencies piloting the approach do have the data in hand, and together they could constitute a large percentage of awards — approaching 70%, if my estimate is correct and assuming all of HHS participates, not just ACF. This means that this pilot would go a long way to meeting the 80% coverage requirement of the legislation.

Hope springs eternal that OMB will meet the January 2008 deployment date for version 1.0 if FederalSpending.gov. If the rumors of this pilot are true, it could happen. Data standards and technology standards still need to be defined, however, to help the non-pilot agencies get on board. In the meantime, OMB could buy a lot of time by getting to that 80% coverage mark by January 2008.