The FlexFile Program for Contractors at a Glance

A little over a year ago, the Department of Defense (DoD) launched its “FlexFile” program to help estimators and contractors exchange project cost data in a more efficient way.

On November 1, 2016, the Cost Assessment Data Enterprise (CADE), an Office of the Secretary of Defense Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (OSD CAPE) initiative, sent out an open invitation to all government contract agencies, asking them to start converting XML files to the JSON FlexFile. The intent is to improve data quality, reporting compliance, and source data transparency for Cost and Software Data Reporting (CSDR).

The CSDR is DoD’s system for collecting actual costs as well as software and related business data. The DoD uses the CSDR data for most DoD resource analysis efforts including cost database development, applied cost estimating, cost research, program reviews, analysis of alternatives, and life cycle cost estimates.

Let’s review the official FlexFile details to get started:

Who uses the FlexFile?

FlexFile is for two types of people:

  • Government contractors, like you, who need to share pertinent data with estimators assigned to each project. The requirement to produce FlexFiles will start to include more contractors starting in 2019. A CAPE February 2018 memorandum expanded the cost data reporting requirement to all acquisition programs with eventual total expenditures of $100 million. The DoD wants to get more visibility into planned resources and actual expenditures for Acquisition Category (ACAT) II, III, and IV programs in addition to the ACAT I programs.
  • Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office (CAPE) personnel who are in charge of evaluating DoD contract costs.

What is the FlexFile?

The FlexFile is a new generation of cost and government data reporting. It’s designed to:

  • Modernize Cost and Contractor Data Report (CCDR) submissions
  • Streamline the submissions process
  • Increase analyst efficiency

Instead of XML data encoding, the FlexFile uses JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), an open-standard, language-independent data format that uses human-readable text to transmit data. It fast forwards the 1960s mindset around tedious manual inputs, multiple rounds of Q and A, and uploading hand-formatted files to CADE.  FlexFile is a less labor-intensive, modern process where data can flow freely between contractor and government systems.

Why use the FlexFile?

CADE recognized the need for a better infrastructure and process for contractors to share modern data structures. The FlexFile data helps estimators evaluate DoD programs quicker and easier.

When is the FlexFile required?

In 2016, CADE started phasing in the FlexFile program on new contracts and invited companies with older contracts to join the initiative. Although it’s not clear when the mandate will go into effect for everyone, you do need to be prepared for the transition in 2019.

How to transition to the FlexFile

The best way to prepare for a transition to the FlexFile is to work with a progressive vendor like ProjStream. We’re the first estimating, pricing, and earned value management (EVM) tool vendor to incorporate JSON technology into our software.

Use it to quickly extract human-friendly, relational data from your system and transmit it faster to CADE. We’ll make sure you can produce the CSDR FlexFile.

Now that you know the main details of the FlexFile program, your next step is to request a custom demonstration from us. See how you can use ProjStream's EVMax, our earned value management software, to produce your Integrated Program Management Report (IPMR) and CSDR JSON encoded data submittals.

Topics: government requirements

Author: Jeff Lutton