The Internal Revenue Service recently set sights on introducing new technology-driven capabilities and applying innovative data science techniques to improve and elevate its procurement operations.
And last week, the agency launched a research partnership valued at almost $1 million that marks a deliberate move in that direction.
Through the newly unveiled collaboration, agency officials, university professors and students equipped with procurement and machine learning experience, and members of Virginia-based small business Data and Analytic Solutions will form a multidisciplinary team intended to accelerate the IRS’ contracting and award processes. It emerges as federal buying largely remains notoriously slow.
“When it comes to contracting, everyone seems to want it faster, cheaper, and better,” IRS Chief Procurement Officer Shanna Webbers told Nextgov over email Tuesday. “We recognized that we cannot continue to do business as usual and expect a different result.”
With that view top of mind, Webbers’ office earlier this year embarked on what she called “a game-changing transformation” that drew from feedback shared by procurement employees within the agency, as well as its customers and industry partners. Building on that, the organization is bringing forth new tools and techniques — like data analysis, visualization, and machine learning, among others — to advance how work is performed.