Agencies, contractors share insights at IT Acquisition Summit
SEWP IV officials make plans to do it again
Encouraged by the surprising success of the Federal IT Acquisition Summit held in April, officials with NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) IV are already making plans for an even more ambitious seminar next year.
Presented by SEWP IV and Federal Computer Week magazine, the one-day seminar featured speakers and panelists from throughout government and industry who addressed a wide variety of topics related to federal acquisition. Among the participating leaders were:
- Daniel Gordon, administrator for Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
- Roger Baker, assistant secretary for information and technology at the Veterans Affairs Department.
- Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA headquarters.
- Simon Szykman, CIO at the Commerce Department.
- Mary Davie, assistant commissioner in the Office of Integrated Technology Services, Federal Acquisition Service, at the General Services Administration.
- Joanne Woytek, program manager for SEWP IV.
“Acquisition officials are hungry for information but often don’t have time to seek it out,” Woytek said. So her program office spearheaded the event to provide a forum for federal acquisition professionals to discuss issues in depth, get help with their careers and education and share insights into common challenges.
The one-day seminar did not promote SEWP IV or any specific contract vehicle but addressed a wide range of topics such as opportunities for professional development and how to use assisted acquisition solutions. The seminar attracted 370 people — many more than expected — of which 80 to 90 percent were government employees. “When we started, we didn’t know whether people would want to be on the panels,” Woytek said. But organizers had no trouble garnering top-level federal executives “because they caught the vision of what we were trying to achieve, which was to help people learn more about acquisition issues."
One of the most satisfying panels for the SEWP IV staff was the industry panel discussing the contract proposal process from the contractors’ perspective. Before the event, people had warned that an industry panel would likely draw little interest from government employees. But the panelists provided valuable insight and generated lively interaction with the audience as contractors explained why they might be confused by solicitation language or hesitate to respond to certain requests for proposals. “The feedback regarding the panel was extremely positive,” Woytek said. “People said, ‘We really learned a lot from industry.' ”
The conference also highlighted Woytek’s knowledge and commitment to the acquisition community. “She has been successful and has been willing to share lessons learned and best practices with people within the IT acquisition community,” said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer for Deltek Information Solutions. “And she stepped forward to organize the summit and make things happen. That’s leadership.”
SEWP IV officials are planning to organize the summit again next year with FCW. They are considering making it a two-day event that includes a day of training with specific courses for acquisition professionals. In addition, they might ask other organizations within the acquisition community to provide information about their activities and services that would be useful. “Attendees gave us a lot of ideas for how to make it better next year,” Woytek said.