The Office of Management and Budget’s “myth-busting” campaign to address misconceptions in federal procurement policy is underway, but Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, says there’s “a lot of work ahead of us.”
While speaking at a Feb. 17, AFFIRM-sponsored event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Gordon outlined the goals of the initiative–laid out in a Feb. 2 memo (.pdf)–and elaborated on the information-gathering portion of the campaign.
Industry group ACT-IAC has launched an online forum called BetterGovernmentIT.org , to collect feedback that will later be reviewed by OMB, the Chief Information Officers Council and the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, according to ACT-IAC.
On the site, procurement managers and contractors are encouraged to identify common myths about vendor engagement and information that will help improve public/private communication. Participants have the option to engage anonymously and can submit, comment on and rank ideas.
“People are starting the dialogue,” said Tom Suder, strategic advisor for University of Central Florida, who leads the BetterGovernmentIT.org project and spoke during the AFFIRM event. But, more feedback and greater context around comments are needed, as the site will only be live until February 28, he added.
The website was designed with a nod to the General Services Administration’s BetterBuyProject , and was even built with the same interface.
OFPP has also hosted senior procurement executive calls–the Feb. 16 call had about 24 agencies represented–to talk through procurement issues in an open forum, said Gordon. He added that he, or someone from his office, is happy to speak at agencies to discuss ways to improve procurement.
Gordon emphasized the administration’s preference for fixed-price contracts, but quickly added “we are not telling our agencies to go fixed-price no matter what.” He recalled an overly-strong push for fixed-price contracts in the 1980’s as “bad news” and prefers the solution only when it makes sense.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking: Have we come to a point where it’s mature enough that we can define our requirements and therefore switch to fixed price? And if that’s the case, then we should be doing it. We shouldn’t be switching to fixed price without that,” said Gordon.
Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that, faced with pressure not to use other contract types, contracting officers have attempted to administer firm fixed price contracts as if they were a “level of effort” type of contract, meant for when vendors are paid for the amount of work they perform, as opposed to delivery of a specific good or well-defined service.
— by Molly Bernhart Walker, Fierce Government IT, Feb. 18 2011 – 3:14pm