5 signs procurement is ready for a revolution

Conditions are ripe for contracting shops to significantly change the way they do business

After 30 years in government procurement, John Nyce has seen the pendulum swing several times.

What is in favor in one decade or one administration falls out of favor with the next.

Nyce is the associate director of the acquisition services directorate at the Interior Department’s National Business Center (NBC), an organization that helps agencies develop and award contracts.

“We are at a point where we can make some game changing decisions in acquisition,” Nyce said during a seminar Oct. 28 in Washington.

He laid out five factors that are creating an opportunity for significant change.

  • Shared-services organizations such as the NBC have been under a spotlight and must get better at serving their customers.
  • A younger workforce is joining government. They grew up with technology and expect to use technology to get their jobs done.
  • More sources of information are available for doing research such as market analysis. “We are not limited to single sources any longer,” he said.
  • The shortage of contract officers is making it imperative that agencies be more efficient with their acquisitions.
  • Communications is increasing among agency contracting shops, allowing for the cooperation on projects and the sharing of information. A good example, Nyce said, is the Better Buy Program recenlty launched by the General Services Administration to use collaborative technologies to improve the federal acquisition process.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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Reader comments

Thu, Nov 19, 2009

Small Business offices and officers usually do not recognize the importance of achieving their stated sub contracting goals. It is not obvious to most that I have dealt with, that they have a vested interest in working with the small business community. Perhaps more oversight but probably more concrete incentives for them to actually play the game with us.

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

What we need is a paradigm shift to create a 21st Century acquisition process to leverage tools and technologies and realize effective change. The hope of the current "Acquisition 2.0" initiative is to create a construct to improve information exchange, increase opportunities for knowledge transfer and collaboration, and be able to do more with less. Human capital plans will no doubt improve things, but numbers alone are not going to solve the problem. It is the elimination of non-value added processes that will help streamline and improve the way Government buys where technology and Web 2.0 tools can have significant impact.

Fri, Oct 30, 2009 Doug Hadden

Procurement 2.0? Government procurement is changing around the world. Accessible e-procurement sites have helped to get more competition. There has not been the expected order of magnitude spend management improvement. Many governments are providing more after-the-fact procurement information that improves transparency. This has helped civil society to analyze procurement information. It helps improve outcomes from procurement programs - particularly through the use of social networking and mashups - it harnasses efforts by citizens and organizations to help improve government procurement. And, social networking is ideal for collaboration among government organizations, and to shared services organizations. Procurement 2.0 combines accessible e-procurement, broader sourcing, transparency, and social networking.

Fri, Oct 30, 2009

While some agencies may not be reaching their small business goals I would have to disagree that there is not opportunity within the Federal market space for small businesses. As a SDVOSB owner, we have submitted a number of proposals and won a quite a few contracts in the past 5 years. We have grown from 10 employees in FY2004 to over 100 employees to start of FY2010. Most of this work has been won as a Prime contractor but we do have subcontractor relationships with our large business partners. I would agree with you that most of the large business primes are not really motivated to provide any work to a small business partner. This is one of the reasons we have secured prime contracts which provides us with leverage with our large bsuiness primes who subcontract to us on our prime contracts.

Fri, Oct 30, 2009

As an SDVOSB, we know first hand of what you speak. Your comments are spot-on. The whole large Prime, small business requirements component of solicitations is a sham. IS ANYBODY LISTENING??

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