White House wants to build digital-savvy contracting corps

The Obama administration is building a special squad of digital-savvy contracting officers to help agencies procure technology more effectively.

U.S. Digital ServiceThe new team will be modeled on the U.S. Digital Service, a similar effort to get more technologists into the ranks of government but will be staffed by existing agency contracting officers who undergo specialized training, Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing this week.

Agency contracting offices often write exhaustively detailed statements of work that are often hundreds of pages long — and ask the same of companies when they submit proposals, Rung said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/06/white-house-wants-build-digital-savvy-contracting-corps/115183

Learn more about the U.S. Digital Service at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/digital/united-states-digital-service 

Military chiefs say they’re often blindsided by acquisition problems

Interviews with 12 current and former military service chiefs reveal strong dissatisfaction with their Pentagon acquisition colleagues, who too often change the requirements for weapons systems or demand additional capability, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

pentagon-seal“Some current and former service chiefs said that because they lack visibility into programs, they are unable to influence trade-offs between requirements and resources,” said the watchdog in a report released Thursday. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chiefs said they are “frequently caught by surprise when cost, schedule, and performance problems emerge in programs.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/06/military-chiefs-say-theyre-often-blindsided-acquisition-problems/115177

4 tips for getting the most out of procurement

Public sector procurement is more complex than it was even five years ago.

Sourcing has gone global, exposing the supply chain to a greater variety of risks than what was previously imagined—conflict minerals, cybersecurity threats, international regulations and more—and the standards for spending transparency have risen tremendously, as evidenced by the adoption of the DATA Act last year.

DATA ActThe expectations for procurement have been set high. In order to meet these expectations, procurement organizations will have to break away from what they’ve always done and reconsider how they measure success. The technology, people and processes in place largely determine the success of such a transformation. Here are four actions that government agencies can take immediately to unlock the full potential of their purchasing activities:

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2015/06/4-tips-getting-most-out-procurement/114988 

Streamlined acquisition process nets results for DLA’s Land & Maritime

By increasing productivity and putting an emphasis on automation, the Defense Logistics Agency’s Time to Award initiative is one of the primary focuses of DLA Land and Maritime’s workforce.
Better Buying Power (BBP) is based on the principle that continuous improvement is the best approach to improving the performance of the defense acquisition enterprise.
Better Buying Power (BBP) is based on the principle that continuous improvement is the best approach to improving the performance of the defense acquisition enterprise.

Matched with the Department of Defense’s acquisition efficiency initiative Better Buying Power 3.0, Time to Award strengthens the organization’s ability to realize savings, avoid costs and improve warfighter support.

“Enterprisewide aggressive goals were established when Time to Award was introduced, but the associates at DLA Land and Maritime have stepped up to the plate in a big way and delivered,” said DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. John King. “We foster an environment that unlocks the full potential of our workforce, enabling them to achieve peak performance and meet efficiency challenges such as Time to Award. It’s important that this organization continues to make good, smart decisions while keeping our customer and readiness focus.”

Time to Award began in 2013 to improve agency contract award procedures and better support warfighters. The agency took a look at the average time it took to award contracts from October 2011 through March 2013, established a baseline and set new goals to anticipate the changing needs of customers while aligning its goals, processes and performance with those needs.

Standardized processes were developed to streamline the acquisition process agencywide in order to reduce the amount of time spent on awarding a contact. At DLA Land and Maritime, a Time to Award working group was responsible for “game changing, strategic process changes,” according to Mindy Tisone, procurement analyst. Some of these changes included modifications to associate performance plans, reductions in automated solicitation periods and purchase request regeneration.

Land and Maritime has reduced automated lead times by 39 percent, or seven days, from the baseline of 18 days to 11 days as of April 2015, Tisone said. Getting vital spare parts, such as pipes, tubing, microcircuits and fuses to ships, tanks and wheeled vehicles, sustains warfighters in an era of complex, competing and often urgent needs.

“Automation is a huge part of Land and Maritime’s ability to procure items in an efficient and timely fashion,” Tisone said. “Ninety-nine percent of Land and Maritime’s procurements are below the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000. Of that population, 90 percent are solicited through our automated system. This process allows us to maintain a lean, effective workforce and deliver quality material in a timely manner to our warfighter.”

Equally important is the awarding of long-term contracts. LTCs are for high-frequency, high-demand items, Tisone said. Land and Maritime is using continuous process improvement metrics as it increases its focus and resources on LTCs. Since the inception of the Time to Award initiative, LTCs under $10 million have decreased by 53 percent. A baseline of 494 days was established and, in April, that average was reduced to 233 days to the award.

Looking ahead, Land and Maritime leaders will engage the workforce, requesting feedback on the program to keep processes and techniques fresh and effective. From simplification of rules to increasing automation output, associates look forward to eliminating unproductive processes as Land and Maritime pursues the goals of Better Buying Power.

Source: http://www.dla.mil/DLA_Media_Center/Pages/newsarticle201505210100.aspx

Lawmakers aim to streamline Homeland Security purchasing

The third-largest federal agency needs to streamline its acquisition process and address continuing reports of waste, a bipartisan group of House members said Monday.

In introducing a bill (H.R. 2199) to step up oversight and strengthen the ability of top procurement officials to re-work contracts, leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee expressed impatience with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s ongoing “Unity of Effort” initiative. They also called for “clarity” for U.S. businesses that contract with DHS.

“Congressional watchdogs continue to find failures in how DHS spends billions of taxpayer dollars on its major acquisition purchases,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee. “Frontline operators securing our borders, defending our shores, and protecting our aviation systems should not wait years longer than promised for systems that don’t perform as intended.”

An Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) allows a Program Manager (PM) to track program goals against a formal baseline. This tracking will alert the PM to any potential problems that might arise and to perform corrective actions to keep a program within its goals. Proposed legislation would require every major acquisition program within the Dept. of Homeland Security to have an approved APB document.
An Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) allows a Program Manager (PM) to track program goals against a formal baseline. This tracking will alert the PM to any potential problems that might arise and to perform corrective actions to keep a program within its goals. Proposed legislation would require every major acquisition program within the Dept. of Homeland Security to have an approved APB document.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/05/lawmakers-aim-streamline-homeland-security-purchasing/111892/