Reforming procurement policy

Here\'s the tricky part: finding, not just following, the leader

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The President has pledged to reform the system, but a new administrator for federal procurement policy has yet to be named.

Angela Styles, a former Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management and Budget, tells FederalNewsRadio the longer the President waits to fill the position, the more damage is done.

It doesn’t have to be OFPP. It can be GSA, it can be someone at DoD, but you have to have a political leader in place, particularly, I think, with such an ambitious agenda in procurement policy. Somebody has to be there that understands it and can lead it and can take charge.

So what’s the hold up?

Most of the people who really know what they’re doing in procurement policy, that have the expertise and the understanding are in industry. They’ve either worked as lobbyists or they’ve worked in companies and I think the restrictions on hiring, and hiring people that have been lobbyists, have been very harmful for finding somebody for this job.

After finding someone to run the office, Styles sees two major challenges ahead for the OFPP:

    Workforce – There’s a lot of people who want a lot more oversight, who want a lot of changes in contracting, and there are frankly aren’t enough people in federal government that really have the expertise in federal contracting.

    Perception – I think there’s a concern that it’s gotten off to a start that has made federal contractors look bad. The President’s announcement on federal procurement came out and it was if federal contractors were bad companies, bad people trying to take money from the taxpayers. And I think that’s got to change because you have to walk hand in hand. If you’re going to make real changes to the federal procurement system, you have to work with the contractors themselves.

Of the two, the more time goes by, Styles says, the more ingrained the beliefs will be.

If you take a look what’s happening with the AIG bonuses and how far that may go with corporations and people’s sense of what should be done with taxpayer dollars, there’s a real risk that that anger really spills over into government contractors who are just doing a job for the government – they’re not taking bailout money, but they’re going a job and I think people have a perception that if you’re getting federal dollars that there’s all kinds of other restrictions and requirements that now should come along with that.

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On the Web:

WhiteHouse.gov – Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (March 4 memo.)

WhiteHouse.gov – Office of Federal Procurement Policy

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