A senior Obama administration official acknowledged that federal purchasing rules are difficult to navigate, especially for information technology projects and services, but they’re getting the job done – for now.
“We may want to think, at some point, about changing authorities. But we have authorities now that can be made to work,” said Beth Cobert, Office of Management and Budget deputy director, referring to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR.
Cobert delivered the keynote address Oct. 27, 2014 at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va., an annual conference sponsored by the industry group ACT-IAC.
A common complaint among federal technology officials is that the FAR is better suited for buying filing cabinets rather than complex IT systems and services. In response to the need for more IT acquisition guidance, OMB created something it calls the “Tech FAR.”
In May, then-federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said in testimony before a Senate committee that the Tech FAR was being developed to help agencies solicit services in new, more agile ways “such as using challenges and crowdsourcing approaches to involve citizens, writing requirements that allow for more flexible execution, or a pay-for-service model.”