Former Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Steve Kelman writes about a meeting he had with 80 GS-15s—supervisors and leaders—to discuss the state of federal contracting. Kelman notes that while participants from defense said they thought their organization does a good job when it comes to training and education, another raised a concern about a lack of training in negotiation. He writes that there’s also a general concern about pressure to speed things up, with the added pressure of more oversight. “Acquisition reform is broken,” said one participant. “We are not seeing streamlining.”
Nextgov reports that Reed Cordish, President Donald Trump’s assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, has said he supports 18F and the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS), two initiatives started under President Barack Obama that have tried to change the way the government buys and develops technology. White House Chief Digital Officer Gerrit Lansing tweeted yesterday that Cordish told 18F and TTS “We have your back” at a recent town hall.
Contractors feel there is “a lot of uncertainty in the air” regarding the new administration’s approach to contracting. “The whole IT industry and federal IT operations are in a wait-and-see holding pattern,” one IT consultant told FCW.” Some are concerned that top IT positions remain unfilled, such as the chief information officer, and some look at the president’s tweets aimed at defense contractors and worry about “ad hoc” decisions. “Can I expect to bid one thing on a contract, then have to renegotiate it when the White House objects to it later?” one asked. “That makes bidding on big contracts a harder thing to do,” they said. “It’s not the tweets, it’s the uncertainty they inject.”
Writing at Governing, co-founder and CEO of Seneca Systems Chris Maddox says traditional public procurement practices, such as issuing requests for proposal (RFP), are holding back government and not allowing it to work with startups and new businesses. Maddox argues that many of the requirements of an RFP are outdated and not conducive to working with leading-edge technology companies, who are often hesitant to enter the government market. He advocates for a more simplified RFP approach to help governments of any size select more current technologies.
Tips for Better Debriefings
Following the Office of Management and Budget’s recent “myth-busting” memo encouraging better post-award debriefs, Terry O’Connor, a partner at the law firm Berenzweig Leonard, talks with Federal News Radio about how agencies can improve debriefings. O’Connor talked about the importance of debriefs to contractors, and the concerns contracting officers often have about saying the wrong thing. O’Connor said contracting officers should follow guidance issued by agencies like the Department of Homeland Security.