By Meg Beasley
Federal News Radio
The Office of Management and Budget is on a mission to reform contracting – they are going myth-busting. Administration officials say lack of communication between industry and government creates barriers to good contracts, but agencies are hesitant to talk to contractors.
OMB released a memo Wednesday kicking off an initiative to address agency concerns and increase effective government-industry communications. It identifies common “myths” about vendor engagement that may be unnecessarily hindering dialog. It also provides facts and strategies to help acquisition officers benefit from industry’s knowledge and insight.
The memo requires agencies to submit a vendor communication plan that discusses how the agency will reduce barriers, publicize communication opportunities, and prioritize engagement opportunities for high-risk, complex programs or those that fail to attract new vendors during recompetitions. The plans are due to OMB by June 30.
Join us Feb. 27 and 28 at 1 p.m. EST for Federal News Network's AI & Data Exchange, presented by Guidehouse, where government and industry experts will share insights and progress on AI work and discuss how to address the related challenges that all agencies face. | Register today!
The memo coincides with OMB’s announcement that contract expenditures declined over consecutive years for the first time since 1997.
Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Procurement Policy (OFPP), said communication has been a problem throughout his more than 20-year career in government contracting.
“It’s my experience that poor communication is too often the cause of costly problems,” Gordon said in a phone press conference Friday. “Poor communication between the government and industry, and especially not enough listening on the government’s part. Not enough communication from industry to government.”
Gordon said industry often is the best resource for information about new technologies and innovative strategies. Agencies miss out on this knowledge or design faulty contracts because they aren’t comfortable having frequent, informal conversations with vendors.
“Listening to industry early on can help ensure that we’re not buying out of date technology and that our solicitation isn’t setting unrealistic expectations,” said Gordon. “Sometimes we’re trying to get too much by way of performance or have unrealistic schedule or cost estimates.”
Gordon said the current Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) allows for broad communications but agencies don’t understand the rules.
“We have substantial flexibility under the current statutes and regulations,” said Gordon. “We’re not using the flexibility we have. We don’t believe we need statutory change or regulatory change. What we really need is cultural change. This memo is an effort to tell our people what they can do, not just what they mustn’t do.”
The memo addresses 10 myths:
Gordon said OFPP will roll out more educational tools in the coming months.
The Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI), the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and agency training practitioners will conduct an awareness campaign at agencies. They will also provide sessions at widely-attended procurement conferences to increase awareness of the need for more industry engagement.
The Chief Acquisitions Officer’s Council will hold a (www.caoc.gov) moderated, online forum later this month. In March, OFPP will convene a working group of federal acquisition professionals to help design an online community of practice.
“We want success stories to be shared, ideas to be shared; we even want horror stories to be shared,” said Gordon. “We want to be learning together through this process.”
FAI will also develop a continuous learning module that contracting officers, program managers, procurement attorneys and others can utilize to develop a better understanding of the types of permissible communication. It will be available by June on FAI’s (www.fai.gov) website.
The myth-busting initiative grew out of OMB’s 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal IT Management. However, Gordon said the need for contract reform and myth-busting “is not just limited to IT – it is across the board.”
(Copyright 2011 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)
Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.