In its continual push to improve the federal acquisition workforce’s performance when it comes to buying digital services, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) has announced the creation of the TechFAR Hub, a new resource to help equip staff with practical tools and guidance for employing best practices in this sometimes tricky area. The TechFAR Hub will live as another “hallway” in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Acquisition Gateway, the information sharing portal that lets agencies compare prices and practices across a number of different spending categories.
The TechFAR Hub was created by OFPP, and U.S. Digital Services, and is really a furtherance of the TechFAR Handbook created by USDS in 2014. That handbook gave lie to the notion that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) wasn’t capable of accommodating the buying of digital services, which tend to require a more agile, iterative approach. The TechFAR Handbook, along with the Digital Services Playbook, helped formalize the approach that the TechFAR Hub will now expand upon.
According to a post on the White House blog—written by USDS Administrator Mikey Dickerson and OFPP Administrator Anne Rung—the Hub will go beyond simply providing documentation. It’s emphasizing perpetual engagement, which is key in such a rapidly changing field:
As agile development, SaaS, and open source software become commonplace throughout government, we want to ensure that acquisition professionals have a central online location to ask questions and share best practices on these topics. The “Discuss IT” section of TechFAR Hub introduces the “Government Digital Service Acquisition Community” on Stack Exchange, which is a crowdsourced discussion board where anyone can ask and answer questions about government digital service acquisitions.
This is all good news for acquisition pros, but also USDS. It wasn’t too long ago that speculation circulated that USDS may not last past the Obama Administration. But moves like this, along with a legislative push to make USDS permanent, go a long way toward stabilizing and prioritizing the best practices USDS has been pushing.