The Senate confirmed Anne Rung to be the next administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Thursday.
Rung, who was nominated in July and has been working as a senior advisor in the Office of Management and Budget since late May, received approval by voice vote in the Senate. “Please join me in congratulating Anne Rung who was just confirmed by the Senate to be the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Thanks to the Legislative Affairs team and OFPP for all of their work on her confirmation!,” wrote Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, in an email to staff, which was obtained by Federal News Radio. “And thanks especially to Lesley Field who has done a wonderful job leading the team over the past several months. Anne has already been a great addition to OMB — and we look forward to working with her in this new role.”
Rung replaces Joe Jordan as the top federal procurement official. Jordan left to be president of FedBid public sector group in January. Lesley Field has been acting OFPP administrator since January.
“The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is a small office with big responsibilities,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, in a statement. “The leadership of this office is critical in ensuring that the federal government has the proper framework in place to make smart financial decisions. Anne Rung is someone who has demonstrated terrific hands-on experience and has shown that a little common-sense can save a lot of money. I know she will lead the way to help the government do more with fewer resources — and get better results in the end.”
Federal procurement experts say Rung’s experience at Commerce, where she was senior director of administration, and with the General Services Administration, where she was chief acquisition officer and associate administrator in the Office of Governmentwide Policy, will serve her well.
“Anne brings a good background,” said Dan Gordon, former OFPP administrator and currently associate dean for Government Procurement Law at The George Washington University Law School in Washington. “I worked with her when she first came into the federal government at the Department of Commerce. She was very focused there, based on her experience in state government in Pennsylvania, on buying smarter, and buying smarter is definitely a very high priority for improving the federal procurement system.”
Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement and host of Off the Shelf on Federal News Radio, said Rung should be able to hit the ground running.
“She spent a good amount of time at GSA working with GSA’s governmentwide contracting programs,” he said. “Through that, she got to understand some of the challenges in that area, some of the challenges in interagency contracting as well as getting to know insights into customer agencies and what the agencies are dealing with. She can hit the ground running and move forward on some of the issues our membership are really concerned about and care about a great deal.”
Rung’s experience at GSA and Commerce will be important as she continues to lead the administration procurement initiatives around buying smarter, buying less and improving the acquisition workforce.
Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, said a focus on the workforce must start with better aligning the Defense Department and civilian agency definitions of acquisition workers.
“DoD looks beyond contracting. DoD defines it broadly to include program and project managers, the buying activity and more than just contracting personnel, but anyone from dealing with creating the requirements to contract close out,” he said. “Civilian agencies tend to look only at contracting. If they could broaden aperture in the civilian agencies and bring program management skills higher up on the value chain.”
Chvotkin said Rung could make a huge impact in closing the sizable gaps in acquisition workforce training.
“Every administrator for the last decade has talked about the importance of strengthening the acquisition workforce,” he said. “In my view, a lot has been said and not a lot has been done. I’m hoping that she’ll be able to seize the opportunity to build on some of the work that has already been started to move the new workforce, better training and the better use of flexibilities for that workforce.”
Gordon added there still are too few acquisition workers across government, and the training needs to continue to improve.
Waldron: Focus should be on learning how commercial marketplace works
As part of that improved training, Waldron said Rung should consider having classes or workshops with industry to discuss how the commercial marketplace works.
“I think one of the things that is missing more so than I’ve seen in a long time is an understanding or sensitivity to how companies actually operate in the commercial marketplace. What does it mean to be in business? What are the considerations that a business looks at when it’s going into a market when it’s trying to compete in a space and when it’s trying to deliver for a customer?” Waldron said. “Understanding the pain points of business and where there are opportunities to reduce those, because ultimately if you do that you can get a better deal, you can get better value and that translate into better return for the customer agency and the American taxpayer.”
Another big issue for Rung will be the buying smarter effort, specifically under that is strategic sourcing. OFPP has been pushing GSA to set up multiple vehicles for commodity products and services, and most have come under vendor protests.
Those protests and the impact on small businesses is attracting the attention of Congress too.
“Under Anne Rung’s leadership, I hope the OFPP reevaluates their approach to strategic sourcing to emphasize sustainable savings and a healthy industrial base that includes small contractors,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Small Business Committee, in an email to Federal News Radio. “As chair of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, I hope she prioritizes the implementation of contracting legislative reforms from Congress that are way overdue. Small contractors are losing out due to this administration’s inactivity.”
Gordon said strategic sourcing likely will be her top priority going forward. He said this effort has the greatest potential to save money and decrease the amount of administrative effort by agencies.
But at the same time, Gordon said she needs to understand and address the small business challenge. He said that’s where her greatest skills will come in — communication.
“Anne knows this. I’ve talked to her, and heard her and watched her. She knows this. Communication is incredibly important. It means not only dealing with the Hill, which they are a major stakeholder on the House and Senate side, the administrator needs to be visible and needs to be listening on the Hill,” Gordon said. “The only thing that I wish I could have done more of was even more communication with the Hill. I think we were very good communicating with industry and with the executive branch agencies. Even more communications with the Hill would not have hurt and might have helped.”