This week the Coalition staff started preparing for the Excellence in Partnership (EIP) Award program which will occur on October 24, 2012 (please “save the date”).  The EIP has long acknowledged and recognized the accomplishments of government and industry acquisition professionals associated with the GSA Multiple Award Schedule program.  This will be the 14th year that the Coalition has hosted the event.  This year’s program marks a significant expansion in the scope of the awards; categories have been broadened to include awards that align with 1) the Administration’s acquisition goals, and 2) the addition of the Coalition’s new GWACs and MACs Committee.

In looking back over previous award categories and awardees, I am struck by the breadth and significance of programs that agencies have launched using established multiple award contracts.  Customer agencies previously recognized as loyal and innovative users of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule program include Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, the Facilities Support Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Pentagon Renovation Program and NASA’s Glenn Research program.

These acquisition programs could only be developed and sustained through effective collaboration and communication by government and industry.  The EIP celebrates and encourages the type of open communications necessary to run a government that citizens expect and can be proud of.  The Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s (OFPP) mythbuster initiative also embraces effective communications and to that end OFPP has issued two memoranda aimed at breaking down obstacles to communications.

In recent months, there has been a lot of attention, widely reported in the media, on the cost of government spending for conferences and travel. The reports have stimulated a flurry of reaction.  Legislation was introduced that would cap conference expenses and limit travel.  GSA is reportedly reconsidering how per diem rates are calculated in order to lower hotels expenses.  Closer to home, we understand that GSA Acquisition centers have canceled or do not plan on having various industry meetings.

As taxpayers we all recognize the need to use tax dollars wisely.  In the process of getting expenses under control, however, we urge agency officials not to take away one of the fundamental tools that helps government succeed – the power of communication. Electronic communication is great.   We can use webinars, social media and e-mail, however, the power of face to face communication should not be underestimated even as us boomers become outnumbered by Gen Y.

This is definitely not a business as usual time for either government or industry.  The economy and downward pressures on the federal budget make cost savings a high priority for all.  In recognition of these circumstances, the EIP will revise its award categories to include a Savings Award which will go to a government and industry activity based on sound acquisition planning and use of well-defined requirements that lead to significant savings for the government/taxpayer.  We believe this addition aligns the award categories consistent with government priorities as well as industry interests.  Significant achievements are realistic only with effective communications among all parties.  I don’t often get to quote historical figures when I’m talking about acquisition but I like this one so I’ll share it with you.  “If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest.”  Daniel Webster.

We will keep you posted as the EIP details are finalized. But for now, go ahead and take the first step (if you didn’t take it earlier) in joining the Excellence in Partnership Award Program. SAVE THE DATE!!