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On Anniversaries, Perseverance, and Hope

One year ago, our nation faced the realities of the pandemic, and the Coalition faced the difficult choice that enterprises across this nation faced. On March 16th, ominously one day after the Ides of March, the Coalition began operating virtually.

Much has happened since then. In the face of the quarantine, our contracting community was forced to rise to the task of reorienting its processes and contract performance as if it were embarking on a wartime effort. The contracting community came to the fore by leveraging technology to maintain continuity of performance, by maintaining staff at the ready to support government programs, and by implementing supply production and distribution activities responsive to government-directed needs. Likewise, the Coalition rapidly leveraged virtual tools to serve our stakeholders in the government procurement community.

Indeed, over the course of the last year, the Coalition continued to publish its weekly Friday Flash and Tuesday Tracker, providing timely operational and policy information for members to leverage in their efforts to serve their government customers. The Coalition organized webinars to provide assistance in understanding and performing in a quarantine environment. We are grateful to the procurement community for its strong support of our first virtual Fall Training Conference. So too, the Coalition maintained vigilance over the government ecosystem, providing commentary or regulatory input on key issues facing contractors, including obligations under the Defense Production Act, funding for the maintenance of contractors in ready state for program performance, and the implementation of Section 889 regarding restrictions on certain telecommunications and video products and services from specific Chinese manufacturers.

Over the past year we also saw the successful rise of the Coalition’s independent sister advocacy entity, the Center for Procurement Advocacy (CPA), under the leadership of Tim Cook. Almost immediately, the CPA established itself as a recognized thought leader in the government policy space on the Hill, advocating for its members on key issues, like contractor funding to maintain contractors in ready state during the pandemic, IT modernization funding, and the rationalization of compliance and procurement regimes across government.

After a year of closures and modifications due to the pandemic, we acknowledge that sad loss of life experienced by our country and countries around the world. Still, we see hope on the horizon.  As the result of an unprecedented research and development effort, our nation possesses not only therapeutics for those stricken with the disease, but also, three vaccines to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition, the creativity and organizational flexibility unleashed by government agencies and the industrial base are helping our nation to “return to normal.” These signs of hope are a testament to the sacrifices of so many in government and the private sector.

What the new normal will look like based on our pandemic experience remains to be seen.  Certainly, by “working the work,” government and private sector organizations have come to realize not only the power of the technology and other tools at their disposal, but also the operational efficiencies that were necessitated by the exigent circumstances under which they performed. Whatever the outcome, however, the Coalition believes that our community put its best foot forward when national duty called, and we look forward to engaging personally with you as we continue our efforts to improve the processes and programs that serve the citizens of this great nation.

Finally, to all the procurement professionals from across government and industry, thank you for your strong support and participation over the last year. We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming virtual Spring Training Conference on May 19-20.  Invitations to your government colleagues will be going out over the next two weeks. To our members, a special thanks for your continuing commitment to the Coalition.

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