With another Government Fiscal Year ramping up, we're starting with a whole new year of budget and contract opportunities in the government market. As we've written here before, the acquisition and procurement process in government is evolving to adapt to the technologies and services being procured as well as changes in the workforce that supports it.
The federal government has been rolling out a number of changes to modernize the procurement process. The Government Services Administration (GSA) is taking steps to streamline their scheduled offerings from two dozen into one. The goal of this consolidation is to remove overlap between schedules and eliminate confusion around what schedule should be used. This shift is happening in three phases:
Phase 1 -- Issued a consolidated schedule solicitation with a simplified format, streamlined terms and conditions, and new categories and special item numbers (SINs) This phase is complete.
Phase 2 -- Mass modifications of existing contracts. Finishing in 2019.
Phase 3 - Final consolidation. Slated for July 2020.
In other efforts to be more efficient, procurement teams across government have been looking at implementing emerging technologies to automate manual processes, plus speed up and secure the overall acquisition lifecycle. For example, the use of blockchain is helping buyers "comparison shop" for pricing as well as closing out contracts.
Finally, acquisition groups are playing a big role in ensuring new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are consumable by the federal government. GSA is partnering with the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to advance the efforts of the AI Center of Excellence, employing tactics that have worked in other agencies including the Department of Agriculture.
We've pulled together a number of events that are applicable to the procurement community as well as industry and government looking for ways to introduce new technologies and services into the government.
Don't let the title mislead you, today we're not talking about acquiring Agile services (though, that plays a role) but rather about how government is making their procurement process more flexible and dynamic to meet the needs of federal teams and citizens alike. We've written here about the challenges in government acquisition--from the retiring workforce, to concerns of end-of-year spending, to incompatibility with modern technology. Given these challenges, we've seen a shift in recent years from the "that's the way it's always been" mentality to one of innovation.
There is some guidance on making changes to procurement including the introduction of Other Transaction Authority (OTA), a way to more quickly carry out certain prototype, research, and production projects. OTAs incorporate business practices that reflect commercial industry standards and best practices into its award instruments. But, what is having a greater effect is agencies taking risks and trying new procurement methods on a one-off basis to see what works.
Lesley Field, the deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in an interview, "I see a lot of appetite out there for taking risks, calculated risks and bringing our industry partners along." She went on to talk about how agencies should be willing to try new ways of acquiring goods and services and be willing to learn quickly from mistakes and change course. Also communicating those lessons learned across government is crucial to government-wide procurement reform. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Acquisition-it's a complex topic for the government market. Private sector companies must navigate a complex system to make their solutions and services available to government customers. Federal acquisition professionals are working to ease this process and adapt decades old policies to meet the needs of modern technology buys such as cloud and as-a-service offerings. There are also new mandates and government-wide policies like FITARA that IT and procurement personnel have to understand and comply with. Add to this the fact that the acquisition workforce is in an incredible state of turnover with older professionals retiring and new ones coming in without the guidance of procurement veterans.[Tweet "Acquisition - it's a complex topic for the government market. #GovEventsBlog"]
The ACQUIRE Conference and Expo that took place in June in Washington, DC was designed to help government agencies create, manage, and run successful programs. The conference program offered federal agency-led training sessions, and government & industry thought leadership panels and keynotes. At the event, the Professional Services Council (PSC) issued their biennial Acquisition Policy Survey that more definitively outlined the challenges detailed above. Some of the findings included: Continue reading →
I/ITSEC 2012 is an outstanding opportunity to hear directly from DoD senior leaders on the latest Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) challenges. Learn from subject matter experts on a variety of AT&L topics and network with Military, Government and Industry acquisition professionals.
As the Defense Acquisition Executive, Mr. Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, will address DoD Acquisition in terms of balancing the warfighters' requirements with the significant reduction in the budget. Mr. Kendall's opening remarks will be followed by the Service Acquisition Executives (SAEs) from the Army, Navy and Air Force who will address improving the efficiencies and affordability of their respective organizations by implementing Better Buying Power initiatives.