Thought No. 10: Myth-Busters – Continuing the Dialogue is More than Checking the Box! Given the current budgetary challenges we face, continuing the dialogue among all stakeholders on key acquisition policies, procedures and programs is vital to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system.  Over the last decade we have seen the growing unease and corresponding reluctance on the part of federal acquisition professionals to take advantage of the communication tools/opportunities available to them as part of the acquisition process.  At the same time it is fair to say that companies have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of communication.  To its credit the Administration recognized this unhealthy trend and responded with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Myth-Buster’s memorandum.  Indeed, the “Myth-Busters” memorandum is fundamentally consistent with the President’s focus on transparency in government.  What can be more transparent than engaging in dialogue with companies regarding key procurements and programs that support agency missions?

As the central procurement arm of the federal government, the General Services Administration (GSA) is “strategically positioned” to enhance and improve communications among all stakeholders in the procurement system.  GSA provides the framework for customer agencies and contractors to work together to support the mission.  At the intersection between customers and contractors, GSA can have a profound impact on improving communication and outcomes for all.  GSA has been taking steps to increase engagement with its customer base and contractors regarding its new mission statement.

On May 22nd, the GSA Business Roundtable, hosted by the Coalition, will provide an opportunity for GSA leadership and Coalition members to have a cross-cutting dialogue regarding the new mission statement and GSA’s government-wide acquisition programs.  The Roundtable provides a wonderful opportunity for GSA and its industry partners to engage in a Myth-Busters conversation that does much more than check the box!  It is an opportunity to establish an ongoing conversation that focuses on improving the efficiency, effectiveness and openness of GSA‘s procurement programs.  The Coalition appreciates the overwhelming positive response we have received from GSA and our members regarding the roundtable.  We are looking forward to seeing you there!

There are other examples of Myth-Busters opportunities and examples that are more than just checking the box.  The OASIS team is to be commended for its ongoing Myth-Busters outreach and dialogue regarding the OASIS acquisition strategy and draft RFP.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Chief Procurement Officer is to be commended for including as one its four priorities “Quality Industry-Government Communication” and for acting on this priority with a series of outreach efforts throughout the year.  The Coalition’s 2013 Spring Conference was another Myth-Busters event with speakers from across the federal enterprise.  During the course of the conference Shay Assad, Director of Pricing for the Department of Defense, challenged the audience to provide feedback on how the Department can reduce or eliminate unnecessary procurement costs.  We in the private sector must also do more than check the box.  As such, the Coalition will be reaching out to our members to identify areas of potential cost savings in order to respond to Shay Assad.

(Next week will focus on “Better Buying Power Metrics: how do we measure success?”)