The government is buying so much, it needs to expand the acquisition workforce

Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

Lots of functions in government need more people. Acquisition is no exception. Getting in the people they need is a top priority of chief acquisition officers. And they’ve got lots of options to do so. For more on this topic, Federal Drive host Tom Temin spoke with federal sales and marketing consultant Larry Allen.

Interview transcript:
...

READ MORE

Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

Lots of functions in government need more people. Acquisition is no exception. Getting in the people they need is a top priority of chief acquisition officers. And they’ve got lots of options to do so. For more on this topic, Federal Drive host Tom Temin spoke with federal sales and marketing consultant Larry Allen.

Interview transcript:

Tom Temin
This came up at the recent conference of your old organization, the Coalition for Government Procurement. That was a top of mind topic, wasn’t it?

Larry Allen
Tom, it was. And I think it’s something that both industry and government can agree upon. We’re in a situation right now in government acquisition, where we absolutely need to add to the acquisition workforce in government. There are a number of things that contractors can do to assist government contracting officers, Tom, but in awarding and auditing and managing a government contract, they’re all inherently governmental functions. And you need a well trained acquisition workforce to do that. In some respects, we’ve never really gotten over some of the intended procurement reforms of the late mid 1990s, where we saw acquisition streamlined, at least for a bit, I would argue that it’s certainly not streamlined today. But one of the byproducts of that effort was substantial reduction in the acquisition workforce ranks. Well, now we have both stressed acquisition and new rules. And that means that we need to have a better acquisition workforce. So what we’re hearing from acquisition officials and government is that they’re trying to be flexible, innovative in how they attract people to the acquisition workforce. And once they’re in the acquisition workforce, keeping them in there. Because there are a lot of options for federal employees and acquisition is one where I’ve personally have seen many talented people start only to have them shift out and go into other areas of government. So you really want to try to not just get people in, but keep them in the acquisition workforce, which means they have to have some obvious career goals and some opportunities for advancement. So I’m in support of this. I do think that we need to watch it a little bit, because it’s tough to recruit people today, whether it’s to acquisition workforce, jobs, or just about anything else in employment. So contractors need to be aware of the fact that you’re using so innovative ways to get people in who are probably going to need a little bit more training than a traditional acquisition workforce member. So patience, and awareness on the part of the industry is probably going to be a factor in here, too.

Tom Temin
I was speaking with one acquisition executive in a large agency who said that, in his experience, federal acquisition, federal procurement jobs are attractive to business majors that are leaving the colleges looking for jobs. You know, there’s a certain cadre that really likes accounting and finance. There’s a certain cadre that likes actuarial work, which sounds dull to the average person, but you know, it’s not really once you get into it and understand it. And the same is true for federal procurement. It’s like a giant puzzle, like a big Rubik’s cube to solve, given the FAR, et cetera. So maybe maybe the government doesn’t realize how I don’t know how to advertise what an interesting profession and actually can be.

Larry Allen
Well, you see everything government acquisition and procurement. Tom, as you know, we’ve been in it for a little while. But it really does offer everything you might imagine it offers the opportunity to negotiate a good deal on the part of the government. So for that little bit, standing for truth, justice, and the American way in order to try and get a good deal. It also requires that you have substantial knowledge of what’s going on in industry, different industry segments requires that you keep your knowledge current. So it’s not a Runco profession where he set it and forget it. There’s a lot going on and government acquisition, and the people who stay in it long enough and have the opportunity for career advancement. They advance and they become names that in least in our industry are kind of household names of people who really made the system work and what system are we talking about? Well, no less than the successful operation of the U.S. government.

Tom Temin
We’re speaking with Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, and sometimes that government can bite if you’re on the industry side. Yesterday, we had an interview with an attorney for the Associated Construction Contractors of the United States. And they are concerned about this rule from the Biden administration requiring contractors to report on their climate impact and how much CO2 they produce and what their plan for mitigating it is. And it goes just beyond construction. Right. I mean, you’ve you’ve determined that it could be a really expensive rule across the board and touching a lot of would be contractors.

Larry Allen
Tom, you mentioned something really interesting there, and you’re absolutely on the right track. And that is that when the first Biden administration pronouncements came out about greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions and things of that nature, most people outside of the building industry kind of looked at it and said, “Well, that’s intended more and more for the commercial real estate and building management part of the world.” That’s not the case at all. In fact, we’ve already seen GSA put a greenhouse gas provision in the draft RFP for the next round of their commercial platform initiative program, right there with at least one other environmental requirement for contractors tracking their carbon footprint. So it really is going to be in almost every commercial item contract as well as non commercial item contract, Tom, industry of all stripes needs to look at this proposed rule carefully. There’s a comment period out on it now, I absolutely recommend commenting on what this rule could do in terms of increasing overall costs for government, because this is going to be predominantly a special government only rule, that lump number of companies don’t have to adhere to in their commercial business. And that’s going to perhaps lead to higher prices and costs in government, which means that the prices that government contracting officers pay, as we talked about in our first segment, are going to go up as well as will cost her industry. So I recommend understanding what’s in this rule getting out ahead of it, because this rule is almost certainly going to happen. Even if it’s in the proposed stage. Now, the fact that there’s already a greenhouse gas requirement in a draft RFP tells you that this is a done deal, at least on some level, if you get out in front of it and can plan accordingly, then at least you’ve got a longer runway to implement this into your business practice.

Tom Temin
I wonder if this really is going to be government unique, because you know, there was a time when the top captains of industry, I mean, they tried to behave legally, but they would give the government a piece of their mind if they didn’t like what the government was doing. Now, most of the industrial leaders pretty much kowtow. They’re afraid of what people are gonna say on social media, they’re afraid of retribution from regulatory agencies. So they, they kind of well, pretty much toe the line on what they think is politically correct. So I wonder if some of the large corporate leaders now will adopt similar rules of their own, say, the car companies, for example, in sourcing glass, plastic, forgings, sheet metal, and everything else castings that go into a car, the same type of rule?

Larry Allen
Well, and that’s it. I mean, certainly, I think you’re right, when we’ve probably already seen some major, large corporations make similar requirements of their supplier base. But that’s also part of the issue, Tom, and that is, can everybody agree on a unified set of standards? Or are we going to have standards that are slightly shaded one way for the federal government, slightly shaded in another way for the state of California that has a tradition, especially now, going off and doing their own thing, and perhaps still a third set of standards that people will have to meet? Depending on what type of commercial business they do? I think if even if you’re a supplier, Tom, whether it’s a commercial item supplier, commercial service supplier, building supplier, you’re going to have to pay attention to this rule, and implement a number of the compliance standards that they are expecting of you. The good news is that they are industry standards. So that if there are people in the commercial world that use the same guidelines, hopefully there won’t be too much variation, but it’s new, and it will cost you something. So if you know that then you want to start now to be ready.

Tom Temin
Larry Allen is president of Allen federal business partners. As always, thanks so much,

Larry Allen
Tom. Thank you very much, and I wish your listeners happy selling.

 

Related Stories