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How the City of Boston is using GSA’s CALC tool

In May, 18F and GSA’s Professional Services Category launched CALC, a powerful labor category and pricing research tool to help the federal contracting community make smarter, faster buying decisions.

CALC allows contracting officers to conduct market research and price analysis for professional labor categories across a database of contract awarded prices for 48,000 labor categories from more than 5,000 recent GSA contracts.

We hoped the tool would save federal contracting officers time and money. Turns out, it’s also saving cities time and money. In August, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston, tweeted:

We reached out to Jascha, who says Boston is using CALC as a way to vet pricing they receive in response to a request for proposals.

“We can compare multiple respondents against each other, but it’s hard for us to know how their proposed pricing aligns with what’s being charged to other government agencies,” he says. “CALC give us a way to verify that we’re getting reasonable rates and [allows us to] push back if we’re not.”

The tool, he says, offers city government contracting officers a way to get a broader perspective on the market.

“One of the challenges cities face in tech procurement is that you’re making decisions based solely on information provided by vendors. CALC…can help ensure decisions are fully informed,” he says.

The CALC tool in action

CALC helps contracting officers determine the range of pricing — at the highest level — for a specific labor category. For example, a search for “Senior Engineer” will return comparable labor categories and their rates, which can be further narrowed by filtering for associated criteria such as years of experience, education level, etc.

This comparison is an important piece of information that contracting officers can use to inform their decision about which contracts should receive Requests for Quotations, and in turn ensure the government is spending taxpayers dollars wisely and in the most efficient way.

To get involved in shaping and advancing this tool (and other procurement-related tools), please get in touch with us at calc-18f@gsa.gov. And if you’re using the CALC tool for your city or state, please let us know at 18f@gsa.gov. We’d love to feature you on the blog.

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