This week the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum “Improving Acquisition through Strategic Sourcing.” The memorandum establishes a new Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council (SSLC) and directs each of the 24 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Act agencies to designate a Strategic Sourcing Accountable Official (SSAO). The SSAO is to have the authority to coordinate each agency’s internal strategic sourcing activities and participation in government-wide efforts. The SSLC is tasked with making recommendations regarding strategies, product areas, data analysis and management structures to support strategic sourcing. In addition, GSA has been tasked with implementing five new government-wide strategic sourcing solutions in both FY 2013 and FY 2014. This marks the latest effort to strategically source products and services across the federal government.
There are other opportunities in the procurement system to increase competition, cost savings efficiency and effectiveness for the American taxpayer. The Coalition for Government Procurement supports efforts to improve the acquisition system for government customers, the taxpayers and industry partners. The current trend towards noncommercial, government unique requirements and mandatory use provisions will, over the long term, reduce competition from, and access to, the latest commercial technologies and solutions. There are several steps the government can take to accelerate and achieve savings across the federal enterprise. An open, commercial based, acquisition system will sustain savings while providing opportunities for small, medium and large businesses – opportunities that mean jobs.
First, put “commercial” back in commercial item contracting. It is the fundamental key to a more efficient, effective and competitive procurement system that delivers best value for government agencies and the taxpayer. This means streamlining the acquisition process, reducing government unique requirements and clauses, and creating a more open system that fosters early adoption of the most current commercial technologies, solutions and pricing techniques. Streamlining the process and reducing government unique requirements will lower costs across the federal acquisition system for government agencies, taxpayers and contractors. It will also increase competition as unnecessary barriers to commercial firms entering the federal market are reduced. Putting “commercial” back in commercial item contracting also means growth and jobs for the private sector.
Second, reduce contract duplication. In a time of tightening budgets, government and industry cannot afford contract duplication that increases bid and proposal, administration and overhead costs for all. These increased costs ultimately get passed onto the taxpayer. There are too many IDIQ contracts across the government enterprise providing the same or similar services and products. It is time for contract rationalization across the government enterprise. It is time to “right-size” the government contract portfolio to an efficient/effective mix of GWACs, MACs and Enterprise contracts. At the same time, steps need to be taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. For example, the lack of ODCs on the MAS contracts increases contract duplication across government as agencies create their own contract vehicles that include ODCs. This increases costs to the taxpayer. The Federal Acquisition Regulation clearly authorizes ODCs on commercial item contracts like GSA’s MAS contracts. GSA could reduce contract duplication by implementing ODCs on its MAS contracts.
Third, continue a robust “Myth-Busters” dialogue between government and industry regarding our procurement system. The OMB memorandum makes no mention of engagement with the private sector. The partnership between government and industry is vital to ensuring our procurement system provides best value outcomes for the American taxpayer. By continuing the dialogue with contractors and the private sector, the government can gain valuable insight regarding requirements development, commercial best practices and the latest technological developments.
The Coalition and its membership look forward to a continuing dialogue with OFPP on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the acquisition system.