OFPP Memo Charts Acquisition Improvement
New Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung has laid out her priorities for governmentwide acquisition improvements. In a memo released last week, Rung details the framework from which agencies will work to overcome a complex Federal contracting space that tends to produce “higher costs, slower procurements, and less innovation.” The plan is built around three concepts – category management, developing the acquisition workforce, and vendor relationships.
GSA has been refining its category management approach for about a year, and now OFPP is ready to roll those ideas out governmentwide. Led by the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC), which Ms. Rung chairs, GSA will be laying out categories of commonly-acquired goods and services, such as IT hardware and software. Currently, there are 10 categories and 50 subcategories. Each category will each be captained by a true expert in the given field and employ a broad set of industry-based strategies. GSA will be following up with further guidance to agencies that will ensure independent validation of savings, performance metrics for category management, and “best in class” solutions by the category managers.
Agencies, in turn, will provide GSA and the category managers with data such as prices paid, contract performance assessments, best buying practices, and terms and conditions to more easily draw comparisons between contracts. This information will be made available through GSA’s Common Acquisition Platform.
Developing the Acquisition Workforce
To meet the challenges posed by the evolving acquisition system and to promote innovative contracting practices, one of the top priorities is enhancing the capacity of the acquisition workforce. Pushing for innovation in the workforce, especially when buying technology, is a stated priority with programs already underway. To build on that, OFPP is working with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and U.S. Digital Services (USDS) to improve digital acquisition, including kicking off a pilot program to train personnel “in digital IT acquisitions and deploy trained personnel so as to encourage innovative acquisition practices governmentwide.” DoD and GSA are tasked with developing training and tools to build the workforce’s ability to use agile approaches to technology buys. They’ll also be detailing a “joint plan to use new and innovative approaches to workforce development training, including cross-functional training, rotational development and assignments, and effective training and education used by the private sector.”
The third part of the plan is improving the relationships between government and industry. To this end, OFPP wants to further the dialogue by hosting regular feedback sessions, piloting an online tool so that contractors can assess specific agency acquisitions — what Jason Miller over at Federal News Radio calls the “Yelp for contracting shops”— exploring the idea of hiring a “vendor manager” to handle top IT commercial contractors, and removing outdated or burdensome regulations from the FAR and agency level regulations.