On December 4, 2014, Anne Rung, Administrator of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Federal Procurement  Policy (OFPP) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum for all Chief Acquisition Officers and Senior Procurement Executives entitled “Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation and Increase Savings.”   The memorandum sets forth the Administrator’s vision for improving performance outcomes of the procurement system.  Although there are concerns across the procurement community regarding the viability of government-wide adoption of “Category Management,” there is much in the memorandum that has the potential to foster improvement in the procurement system.  In particular, the focus on the acquisition workforce and building stronger vendor relationships is welcomed.

It is a timely and encouraging memorandum.  Timely, as across the procurement community there is a growing consensus that the procurement system must be modified or “reformed” to increase efficiency and effectiveness in delivering best value outcomes to support customer agency missions.  Encouraging, as the approach reflects much of what the Coalition for Common Sense in Government Procurement (the Coalition) has called for over the last three years:

  • Embrace simplification in processes and procedures
  • Put “commercial” back in commercial item contracting
  • Conduct a retrospective review of procurement regulations
  • Embrace robust dialogue between government and industry
  • Reduce contract duplication
  • Address barriers to entry and promote innovation
  • Incorporate “materials” (i.e. ODCs) capability in Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts
  • Improve the negotiation software licensing in MAS contracts
  • Reform MAS pricing policy

These themes are reflected throughout the “FAR & Beyond” Blogs and in our white papers and policy statements addressing key procurement trends, issues and challenges.  Here is a list of links to some relevant FAR & Beyond blogs and/or Coalition policy documents:

The December 4th memorandum includes common sense procurement themes that Coalition members support.  Here is a sampling:

  • “Simplifying the Federal Contracting space is critical to driving greater innovation and creatively and improved performance.” See Page 1 of the Memorandum.
  • … [U}nnecessary duplication imposes significant costs on contractors and agencies.” See Page 2 of the Memorandum.
  • “Early, frequent, and constructive engagement with industry leads to better outcomes.” See Page 4 of the Memorandum.
  • “[G]reater attention must be paid to regulations relating to procurements of commercial products and services, as the Government is typically not a market driver in these cases and the burden of Government-unique practices and reporting requirements can be particularly problematic, especially for small business . . .” See Page 5 of the Memorandum.

The December 4th memorandum highlights the results of the Open Dialogue stating in part that “[t]he Open Dialogue, which drew nearly 500 participants, was an important first step in helping agency managers to better understand both industry concerns and the processes and practices that will better enable companies to consistently do their best work and delivery optimal value to the taxpayer.”  See Page 6 of the Memorandum. The memorandum instructs GSA to identify steps to reduce burdens and barriers to entry for contractors and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the MAS program, including steps to improve the acquisition of materials (i.e. ODCs) and negotiation of end-user licensing agreements.

As you recall, the Coalition submitted a set of recommendations to the Open Dialogue.  Seven Coalition recommendations made the top ten in votes from the public.  We look forward to working with OFPP, GSA, the FAR Council and the entire procurement community on making these recommendations a reality!

Roger Waldron

President