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CAOs feel the pressure to get more bang for the buck

Federal chief acquisition officers continue to feel the pressure to hire, train and retain acquisition workers. But an old priority is gaining new life among CAOs and senior procurement executives (SPEs).

Federal News Radio’s exclusive 2015 CAO survey found these managers, more and more, want to find efficiencies in how and what they buy in order to deal with ongoing budget challenges.

Respondents to the survey ranked finding efficiencies slightly lower than workforce priorities. But, when compared to what CAOs and SPEs said in 2014, the push for spending money smarter and getting more bang for the buck was dramatically different.

In 2015, CAOs rated finding efficiencies less than one point behind hiring and retaining acquisition workers, while in 2014 they ranked it almost two full points behind workforce priorities.

“The combination of decreasing federal spend and increased demands for services creates a grave challenge,” wrote one respondent about the state of acquisition in government. “We need to fundamentally reimagine how we deliver services to the American people: hyper-intense oversight, intolerance of any failure, and the gotcha journalism of a 24-hour news cycle make that even more difficult.”

Federal News Radio conducted its fourth annual online survey of 120 CAOs and SPEs and received a 20 percent response rate. Of those who responded, 33 percent came from cabinet agencies and 17 percent from large agencies. 50 percent were CAOs or deputy CAOs while the rest were senior-level acquisition managers.

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