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General Services Administration

Better tools for better research


Streamlining a critical contracting task

The General Services Administration (GSA) plays a central role in helping the rest of the federal government hire contractors to perform professional services. This process requires contracting officers to research past federal contracts to determine a fair hourly rate, which often involves manually searching through stacks of paper contracts to find old labor rates.

WOW — I saw your blog post announcement for the Contract Awarded Labor Category Tool (CALC) and all I gotta say is WOW! I am not sure why trumpets are not blaring, horns are not tooting and bells are not ringing! This is truly a great day...This tool will make the whole process a whole lot more accurate, easier and faster. - Email from CALC user

Stacked paper to searchable data

When GSA asked 18F to help improve this process, we started by gathering the documents that contracting officers were using to conduct their research and extracting the data. Using that information, we built a searchable, interactive website called the Contract-Awarded Labor Category tool, or CALC for short. Now, anyone can search thousands of past government contracts for specific labor categories to find fair hourly rates. They can even refine their search by years of experience or education level.

GSA contracting officers have reported that the tool is vastly more efficient and accurate than the previous method, and has helped contracting officers save on labor rates by an average of .1 percent. While this may seem small, the size of federal contracting means a .1 percent improvement could help save the government hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

The CALC team is now working to make it easier to get new data into the tool and to expand the number and type of contracts in the database. As it matures, the tool gets more powerful and useful to a wider audience of contracting officers and members of the public.