On Dec. 4, the Obama administrations released a document on the current state of the federal acquisition process, while identifying three areas of improvement and desired end results to increase the process’s efficiency and effectiveness.
These initiatives are covered fully in Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings, published by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.
1. Buying as one through category management. The Administration is implementing a new vision for purchasing, one that fundamentally shifts from managing purchases and price individually across thousands of procurement units to managing entire categories of purchases across government collaboratively. This approach, called category management, is used extensively in industry and in the United Kingdom.
In the federal contracting space, it can be best accomplished by managing the more than $270 billion in annual spend for commonly purchased goods and services. By bringing common spend under management, including collecting prices paid and other key performance information that allow easy comparisons, the Administration will ensure that agencies get the same competitive price and quality of performance when they are buying similar commodities under similar circumstances. This will also free up agency acquisition personnel to focus on complex agency-specific procurements.
2. Deploying talent and tools across agencies and growing talent within agencies to drive innovation. Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) will work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other agencies to develop a plan for increasing digital acquisition capability, and the U.S. Digital Services, in partnership with OFPP, will pilot a program to train agency personnel in digital IT acquisitions and deploy trained personnel back to their agencies to encourage innovative acquisition practices government-wide.
OMB will also work with OSTP and agency officials to identify additional opportunities, as well as incentives and mechanisms to pilot innovative contracting models.
3. Building stronger vendor relationships. To help companies enter the federal marketplace and find agencies looking for their services, GSA has already begun to design improved online tools for vendors to more easily find opportunities to compete for contracts. Another key component is removing regulatory barriers to innovation.
Within 180 days of this memorandum, OFPP, will make recommendations to the Deputy Director for Management on specific actions that can be taken to reduce burden in commercial item acquisitions, especially for small businesses.
Finally, the Administration proposes to manage key vendor relationships as a single enterprise. Mirroring other governments and industry, who focus on vendor, supplier and performance relationships, OFPP will, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, develop a plan to recruit the federal government’s first Vendor Manager for top IT commercial contractors.