Acquiring Knowledge on Government Acquisition

For those of us in the government market, October is the time to break out the Happy New Year noisemakers and celebrate the new government fiscal year (GFY). Each August and September is a frantic race for agencies to spend their remaining budget, which poses opportunity but a lot of hard work for the vendors that want to earn some of this end-of-year shopping spree money. In recent years, the turning of the new fiscal year has also meant uncertainty. From shut downs to continuing resolutions, the switch from one year to the next has not been as smooth as flipping a calendar page.

A group of senators has come forth to raise concerns about this annual end-of-year frenzy. A recent report found that the last week of the fiscal year accounts for 12.3 percent of spending [on IT]. Numerous other reports over the years have found similar statistics. In 2017 this equated to $11 billion in the final week of the year -- almost five times more than the average weekly spending for that year. This spending happens because agencies are afraid if they do not use all the money they are allocated, their budgets will go down in the future. This group of senators, as well as others in government, are looking at options for reforming the system to eliminate the potential waste resulting from this fast spending.

Beyond the end of year craziness, there are many other challenges facing the acquisition community. The workforce is aging and there is a struggle to fill open positions as well as pass on all of the institutional knowledge of seasoned workers. New technologies and processes including cloud, agile, and mobile are proving to be a square peg in the round hole of decades old acquisition process and procedures. Luckily, there are numerous ways for acquisition professionals (new and mature) to get up to speed on the latest policies, technologies, and tactics for their industry.

  • FAR Less Complicated (November 6-7, 2018; Vienna, VA) -- The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the source document when contracting with the procurement offices of both federal defense and civilian agencies for the purchase of goods and services. This event is designed for government, contractor, and subcontractor personnel. It includes hands-on workshops to strengthen the understanding of the FAR for better compliance.
  • Technology Acquisition in Government: The Marriage of Outcome and Innovation (November 8, 2018; Washington, DC) - Spearheaded by the Association For Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM), this briefing brings together government agencies that are leading the charge in pairing rapidly evolving technologies with accelerated purchasing techniques to keep government IT on the leading edge.
  • 37th Annual Government Contract Management Symposium (December 3-4, 2018; Arlington, VA) - Organized by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA), this event provides training for contracting professionals in both government and industry. This year's event features a keynote address from former NSA director Keith Alexander, main stage discussions on acquisition team best practices and workforce professional development, 35 breakout sessions, and many networking opportunities with 1,000+ attendees.
  • The Agnostic Introduction to Technology Business Management for Federal IT Compliance (December 6, 2018; Alexandria, VA) - This "agnostic" overview will assist attendees with how to understand the intent of the compliance-driven Technology Business Management mandate from the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). The session will review what has been incorporated into mandatory financial and project/ program/ portfolio/ investment reporting as well as a review of what is prognosticated to be rolled out in terms of reporting for the future.
  • Defense Systems Acquisition Management Course (February 4-8, 2019; Monterey, CA) - This event provides the latest information including and related to Defense acquisition policy for weapons and information technology systems; Defense acquisition and reform and initiatives; Defense acquisition procedures and processes; the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process, and the Congressional budget process. Attendees include industry program managers, assistant program managers, systems engineers, industry personnel serving on DoD Integrated Product Teams, and other personnel that must interface with DoD program offices involved in program development and execution.

We'd love to hear from acquisition professionals out there. How are you expanding your knowledge to meet the evolving state of federal procurement?

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