What does innovation really mean?

In this article, Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association, explores what forms innovation might take in the government acquisition arena.

Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new…a new idea, method, or device.” In business, that description includes “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.”  Within acquisition, innovation might mean two things: wider use of new and innovative technology tools and products; or what could be called a new business (management or human resource) philosophy, government contracting policy, regulation, training initiative, strategy, type, etc.  Taken further, “disruptive innovation helps create new markets and value networks, eventually displacing or replacing existing ones and legacy technology.

Confusion results when it isn’t clear what innovation means. No innovation is risk free, of course. Nothing new ever is. A structured, traditionally conservative acquisition community has much to be concerned with. This is justified, since despite contrary rhetoric, everyone from the program customer, senior agency or corporate leadership, oversight officials from GAO, inspector general, DCAA, DCMA, Congress, to media and industry associations, can be quick to highlight failure, but not as prominently promote success. Shortfalls in government’s acquisition performance are clear when, by the time government receives new technology, it’s already outdated, having long been used in the private sector. This perpetuates criticism mistakenly linked to existing regulations, lack of communication with industry, workforce training, etc.

In a bygone era, the government led technological change. Now it mostly follows.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/05/04/fischetti-what-does-innovation-mean/26889217/

Commerce’s innovation exec seeks to hire entrepreneurs

The chief of innovation in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration wants to bring more entrepreneurs into government, perhaps as two-year fellows, she said on Wednesday.

Commerce Dept.“There is lots of entrepreneurial thinking in government—it’s surprising,” Julie Lenzer Kirk, director of Commerce’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, told small business owners at a conference of the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council. But she added that when she ran the state of Maryland’s Center for Entrepreneurship, “I would tell business people, ‘You’re my tribe.’ When I got to government, I’m still trying to fit into the tribe.”

The EDA’s role, Kirk said in a pep talk to small business contractors titled “It Takes a Village,” is not direct investment like the Small Business Administration, but helping build capacity through partnerships, grants, and tools that bring people together. “Making sure state and local officials understand that small businesses are the job creators is essential,” she added. It’s “connecting the dots” on a regional basis because “what works in Detroit is not what is needed in Atlanta.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/04/commerces-innovation-exec-seeks-hire-entrepreneurs/110965

Longtime procurement expert Dan Gordon set to retire

Come mid-summer, one of the workhorses of federal procurement is set to retire after decades of direct and advisory service to the government.

Former OFPP Administrator Dan Gordon
Former OFPP Administrator Dan Gordon

Dan Gordon, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and now an associate dean at George Washington University Law School, told FCW in an interview that he has been gradually pulling back from his many advisory roles in the last few months with an eye to retiring by July.

“The goal for July 1 is full retirement,” he said, adding that after that he plans to focus on his continuing study of Chinese languages and then, whatever comes.

Looking back, Gordon said his enthusiasm for the federal government’s procurement system is undimmed, even in the face of the increasing complexity and technological changes that have many calling for reform of the system.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/04/15/gordon-set-to-retire.aspx

Navy launches ‘Innovation Cell’ to speed IT acquisition

It’s almost accepted as a truism in the modern era that the federal acquisition system simply isn’t up to the challenge of buying information technology. But IT leaders in the Navy suspect the problem isn’t so much the regulatory scheme itself, but the way it’s historically been applied to technology purchases.

Navy logoTo test that premise, on Thursday, the Navy’s program executive office for enterprise information systems will formally launch what it terms its Innovation Cell, a nascent effort to begin rapidly inserting relevant commercial technologies into Navy networks without a single change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. PEO- EIS will begin by presenting industry with three “enterprise challenge statements” at an industry day in Tysons Corner, Virginia, one focused on big data analytics, another on enhanced virtual desktops and one seeking an end-user productivity suite.

“There are too many products that you can go down to Best Buy and purchase today, but we don’t have in our enterprise,” Capt. Paul Ghyzel, the deputy program executive officer, said in an interview with Federal News Radio previewing the innovation cell. “It’s for various reasons. Some of them, like security, are valid, but in other cases, it’s just that the model we use to acquire them today doesn’t lend itself to taking advantage to what’s already in the marketplace. When we build the next generation of aircraft carrier, we have to make the investment. In IT, the commercial companies are already making the investment, and we need to leverage that.”

The “cell” is more a framework than a physical place, and will serve several functions in the Navy’s acquisition ecosystem, officials said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/885/3824927/On-DoD-Navy-launches-Innovation-Cell-to-speed-IT-acquisition

IT buying experiments preview ‘Acquisition of the Future’

“Acquisition of the Future” is an initiative that seeks to frame a vision in which acquisition creates significant new value for the government through fresh approaches, modern technologies and a new generation’s capabilities.

Participants include a growing number of federal executives, industry leaders, notable academics and rising acquisition professionals who have been meeting since 2013 to create a framework for what federal acquisition can become, to meet the demands of the Collaboration Age — and beyond.

Acquisition of the Future supporters are continuing their quest to find and capture real-world examples that uncover emerging trends. AOF leverages these initiatives to demonstrate the new value that vibrant, forward-focused federal acquisition can provide, and that model the strategic decision-making and investments required now to transform the future.

Especially in the realm of information technology, such experiments are emerging everywhere. That’s not surprising, because technology is one of the chief disruptors driving change and creating higher expectations in government, society, industry and our economy. Because IT is evolving so rapidly, government has difficulty acquiring, modernizing and maintaining it in a way that keeps pace with innovation and commercial best practices. And current government buying processes and culture make it difficult for agencies to keep apprised and take advantage of the pace of technological innovation. Consequently, IT is a hotbed of acquisition experimentation.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/01/22/preview-acquisition-of-the-future.aspx