Ten Acquisition Communication Lessons from the OMB Myth-Busting Memos
From the start of solicitation development through debrief, effective communication is essential for the success of any government acquisition. Over the past decade, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued four “myth-busting memos” that dispelled widespread misconceptions that have gotten in the way of success. As Michael Wooten assumes his position as Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), there is talk of making use of this creative communication method to further enhance engagement. Here is a quick summary of most of the issues that have been addressed in prior myth-busting memos:
- Understand disclosure requirements – While there are certain circumstances that require private meetings to be disclosed, most conversations with contractors, associations, non-profits, and related organizations are unlikely to require disclosure.
- Ensure broad vendor participation – Although working with the same vendors may be comfortable, it is essential to give potential vendors fair consideration, including sufficient time to respond to each opportunity.
- Verify vendor performance – In addition to consulting Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) regarding a vendor’s past performance, procurement personnel should also consult other sources such as other contracting officers, news media, state and local governments, and reliable commercial sources of performance information are also quite useful.
- Adopt best practices – The way things have always been done will not be the best way forever. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) challenges acquisition officials to encourage business process innovations and use strategies and practices that ensure that mission requirements are met.
- Attend events – Government and vendors alike should reap the benefits of well-organized industry days, conferences, product demonstrations, and outreach events.
- Remember that non-FAR-based acquisition authorities are available – While it may be the norm to work within the FAR, joint ventures with other agencies such as the Department of Commerce (DOC), Government Services Agency (GSA), and Other Transaction Authority (OTA) offer additional options for acquisition.
- Conversation increases understanding – Early constructive communication with industry is valuable. The potential benefits of having discussions and negotiations with contractors are more likely to be greater than the risk of delaying the schedule.
- Provide constructive feedback early and often – Contracting officers who use a multi-step down-select process save time and resources (for both government and industry) when they advise unqualified vendors that they are unlikely to receive an award giving them the option of withdrawing before the next phase of review.
- Expedite procurement while maintaining FAR compliance – The FAR provides flexibility to shorten the time from requirements identification to solution delivery by considering all available options such as oral presentations, multi-phase advisory down-selects, confidence ratings, and on-the-spot consensus evaluations.
- Provide informative, well-planned debriefs and deliver them in-person when possible – Debriefs help unsuccessful offerors understand the award decision, which decreases the likelihood of bid protests and help successful and unsuccessful offerors develop better proposals in the future.
As we reflect on the overall message conveyed by these memos, we can surmise that government and industry representatives should communicate (in any manner not prohibited by FAR or statute) from the definition of requirements through debrief.
These summaries were based entirely on the interpretation of the content of the following memos:
- “Myth-Busting”: Addressing Misconceptions to Improve Communication with Industry during the Acquisition Process
- “Myth-Busting”: Addressing Misconceptions and Further Improving Communication During the Acquisition Process
- “Myth-Busting 3”: Further Improving Industry Communication with Effective Debriefings
- “Myth-Busting #4” Strengthening Engagement with Industry Partners through Innovative Business Practices
If you would like to gain a better understanding of the procurement process, Management Concepts offers more than 70 introductory, advanced, and specialized Acquisition and Contracting courses that are delivered in-person or online – the choice is yours.
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing and Editing from George Mason University.