The Defense Department is hoping a few trips to the mall can help its acquisition professionals learn how to save the government money. The Defense Acquisition University has launched the Service Acquisition Mall (SAM) as a way for feds across government to collaborate and share best practices in the acquisition arena.
“The mall was created around the idea of how do we collect and disseminate information on service acquisitions,” said Lyle Eesley, director of the Learning Center of Excellence for Service Acquisition at DAU. “The Department of Defense, we really don’t have a good way of collecting good information and putting it all in one place.”
The mall was created, Eesley said, to collect both process knowledge (process of how to acquire services) and functional knowledge (IT services, facility management, or knowledge-based services). The idea was to provide a central space for which to combine information on services that people are interested in knowing more about.
“Simplicity is one of the key factors that we’ve been trying to achieve in the mall, and coming up with the mall metaphor really helped us focus, because everybody’s been to a mall,” Eesley.
Each wing of the mall is color-coded based on a taxonomy of services, so that services are grouped together and like-services are easily accessible.
“If you’re trying to create requirements documents, say for knowledge-based services, you can go in the knowledge-based service wing, and currently there are four stores within that wing that will provide more information as it relates to knowledge, to training, or to management and professional services, based on the type of service you’re really looking for,” Eesley.
The mall provides tools and templates and a collections of what Eesley calls “sucessful practices.” Mostly geared toward the functional community that is tasked with creating the all-important requirements documents, it can help out acquisitions officers who might not have the most thorough training or most up-to-date knowledge.
The mall is hosted on a DAU website and is open to anybody in the federal government. As the mall expands, Eesley forsees creating protected zones where multiple users can collaborate on more sensitive matters. Another tool in the works would help a user define their requirements to develop Performance Work Statements (PWS) and Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans (QASP).
“The mall is certainly by no means done, it’s work in progress,” Eesley says. “Really, we’ve got to build out other areas of the mall.”
And they need your help to do it.
“If you’ve worked with a service acquisition that’s really been successful in terms of achieving the outcomes that you were looking for when you started it, certainly let us know because we’d like to come interview you and capture that information and put it in the appropriate wing of the mall so that it can be shared across the federal workforce,” Eesley said. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org