Industry has been using and refining data analytics for quite some time. The Government, not so much. And to a certain extent, that's understandable. Credit card companies for example are liable for fraudulent charges. Someone steals and card and makes unauthorized charges, the credit card company is ultimately liable, not the card holder. In the Government's case however, losses or unauthorized purchases are simply passed on to the taxpayer. Or take the case of advertising. GM and Ford need to sell vehicles for business gain. The Government doesn't need to sell anything. There is no inherent business gain in anything the Government does.
The Government's disinterest in "data analytics" may be changing. The Senate just passed Senate Bill 1099, Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act of 2017. This bill is intended to provide for the identification and prevention of improper payments and the identification of strategic sourcing opportunities by reviewing and analyzing the use of Federal agency charge cards.
Specifically, this Bill will require OMB and GSA to develop a strategy to expand the use of data analytics in managing government purchase and travel charge card programs. These analytics may employ existing GSA capabilities (which are probably negligible), and may be in conjunction with agencies' capabilities, for the purpose of
- identifying examples or patters of questionable transactions and developing enhanced tools and methods for agency use in
- identifying questionable purchase and travel card transactions; and
- recovering improper payments made with purchase and travel cards
The misuse of Government purchase and travel cards are significant and widespread and the costs have been essentially born by the taxpayers. Perhaps this Bill will help reduce the number of occurrences of misuse or stop the activities before they become significant.
Government contractors might want to follow these developments to see if there is something that can be adapted to their own internal control systems.