Jackie Space, founder of tech company BMNT, said there is too much focus on fixing the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) as a means to helping foster innovation. Space argues that putting the emphasis on process ignores a cultural problem at play. “The FAR is a symptom, but fundamentally it boils down to the organizational behavior,” she writes. “The culture and methods by which government people are taught to engage with ‘outsiders’ sits at the heart of what makes the Department of Defense difficult to work with. These behaviors stem from the department’s penchant for leading and managing technological innovation rather than scouting outside of the defense industrial base to support people who can lead innovation.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report earlier this month, claiming the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act would cost $9 billion to implement from 2017 to 2021, causing concern that the bill may not get passed. The bill would allow agencies to reprogram unspent funds to update IT systems, and would create a revolving fund to allow agencies to modernize vulnerable systems. The bill passed the House in September, but with the new CBO report, there is speculation that lawmakers will be unable to get the deal done by the end of the legislative session.
Though former Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Steve Kelman has previously been critical of President-Elect Donald Trump’s approach to procurement, he looks at some recent decisions and sees cause for optimism. Kelman argues that Trump’s attention to contracting matters may help elevate the function, and attract skilled professionals to the field. He also argues that it may not be a bad thing that Trump is arguing publicly over the price of certain programs. “Indeed, for the president of the United States to send a strong signal to contractors that he wants to be aggressive on prices the government pay is a plus, not a minus,” he writes.”