In defining what is “inherently governmental”, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, OFPP, was bound to step on a few toes. Earlier this month, former acting administrator, Rob Burton, told Federal News Radio the newly published definition didn’t “leave much for the private sector.”
Current administrator, Dan Gordon, told the Federal Drive the reaction he’s seen from industry has been fairly positive. “I think people appreciate that what we’re trying to do,” said Gordon, “is rebalance the relationship between the government and the contractors that we use.”
As far as defining work that’s “closely associated to inherently governmental, Gordon said “the government needs to be sure that when they contract that work out, which they’re allowed to do, that they’re careful to be sure the contractors’ work doesn’t expand into inherently governmental… This is just a draft. We’re now in a 60 day comment period. I suspect we’re going to get a lot of comments from industry, from the trade unions, from government agencies, and we’re looking forward to those comments.”
And from those who, let’s be honest, matter most – federal managers, Gordon said they’re telling OFPP “what really matters is whether the final guidance is concrete, whether it’s workable, whether it gives them clear guidance about what to do, and that’s out goal.”
While the status quo may not be acceptable, Gordon said he’s concerned that a balance is achieved between the power of the government to manage contracts and being open to dialog. “The balance,” said Gordon, “is an endless challenge. There will never be a perfect answer, but we’re going to move forward working with contractors in a way that keeps us in control of our work.”
We need to be sure that our number one priority, strengthening the federal acquisition workforce is met. That is going to mean increasing hires and improving training. The President’s budget this year includes $158 million dollars to strengthen the civilian agencies’ acquisition workforce.”
As if that’s not enough for OFPP, “in addition to strengthening the acquisition workforce, in addition to rebalancing our relationship with contractors, we need to show fiscal responsibility,” said Gordon. “That means saving money. The President has challenged us to save $40 billion dollars from our procurement spend.”
Asked to look into his crystal ball and see FAR into the future, Gordon said a major rewrite of the Federal Acquisition Regulations is not on the horizon.
“There are some areas that will need to be improved. For example, the section talking about organizational conflicts of interest, subpart 9.5 of the FAR. There’s some other specific areas, but I do not anticipate any broad rewrite of the FAR.”
Federal News Radio talked with Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Dan Gordon at the 2010 IRMCO conference. For more of our coverage, please go to Keyword: IRMCO.