Setting up the Department of Homeland Security’s Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) was one of the first things Soraya Correa did after becoming DHS chief procurement officer in 2015.
It originally had one half of one full-time employee, and the lab reported to her. Polly Hall, the PIL’s current director, came to the lab in 2017 from having worked as a contracting officer on a Transportation Security Administration procurement where she had been trying to think about new techniques for doing advisory downselects. Since then the PIL has grown to a full-time staff of six, and most DHS components also have an acquisition innovation advisor (not a full-time position) who acts as a sort of local representative for what the PIL and Correa were trying to do.
With the PIL’s own staff and the acquisition innovation advisors in the components, DHS arguably has established more of an ongoing innovation capacity than any other federal agency. Correa and her colleagues are institutionalizing innovation, something we rarely see in the government.
The PIL’s operating principle is not to force itself on DHS contracting people. It is not a tiger team that swoops in and takes over a procurement. PIL staffers come in only when asked by the people doing the procurement – both program and contracting people. They provide advice to the frontline folks, and those employees then do the work. For projects being supported, staff from the PIL meet with their contracting customers every other week for 15 minutes until the contract or task order is awarded.
Keep reading this article at: https://fcw.com/blogs/lectern/2020/11/kelman-dis-pil-innovations.aspx