The Coalition was privileged to host speakers from across the federal enterprise at the Fall Training Conference this week for a discussion of key procurement issues, challenges and opportunities of the “New Federal Market.” Much of the discussion during both the morning plenary sessions and the afternoon breakout sessions was focused on strategies for achieving affordable, best value outcomes for customer agencies and the American people.
Affordability and best value outcomes start with sound, effective and clear customer requirements. Sound requirements development drives superior contractor performance, pricing and value for customer agencies. Prices paid do not in and of themselves demonstrate the cost to the government. Prices paid must be put into context in order to assess savings and value to customer agencies.
Unfortunately, it seems that the current focus across the federal enterprise is decidedly on prices paid. So much so that OMB is championing the development of a “prices paid portal” to collect all prices paid for products and services across the federal government. Presumably the information collected would be used to assist contracting officers in planning and executing procurements. Aside from the significant technical challenges involved in creating such a portal and the overwhelming amount of data that would be collected, one must ask if such a portal will truly improve decision making across the federal government.
Price alone is incomplete data. In order to truly inform contracting personnel across government regarding market conditions—such a portal must include contract requirements, terms and conditions, and volume. Requirements, terms and conditions, and volume are significant drivers of price and value. Without including this information as part of the portal, price is largely misleading. As last week’s “FAR and Beyond” blog noted, requirements development is the Achilles heel of government contracts. Focusing on improving requirements development through the creation of centers of expertise will save millions, if not billions, of dollars while also improving contract performance outcomes! It is a simple formula: SOW/Requirements=Price/Value.
Next week more on requirements and strategic sourcing.