Critical Read

A contracting how-to for agency leaders

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WHAT:  "A Guide for Agency Leaders on Federal Acquisition: Major Challenges Facing Government," by IBM Center for the Business of Government, released Sept. 3.

WHY:  The federal government acquired $517 billion worth of products through contracts in 2012. The report answers eight key questions about federal procurement and designates three distinct acquisition challenges facing leaders: navigating the regulatory and oversight landscape, mitigating acquisition risks through contract design and improving the acquisition workforce. 

VERBATIM: "Much of what an agency executive does to achieve agency missions and implement agency programs involves the acquisition of goods and services. Many leaders outside the federal procurement system see it as a mysterious black box, the rules of which are explained by procurement staff and attorneys. But the effective delivery of government programs often rises and falls on whether a contractor understands the goals of the program for which they are providing goods and services, and performs effectively based on a procurement process that translates goals into requirements, resource expectations, and metrics."

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About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

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Reader comments

Thu, Sep 5, 2013

Down loaded the Guide and found it a good primmer for the totally clueless but not really very useful. As a former PEO, CIO and unlimited warrant contracting officer here were my principles as a PEO: 1 - Never Spend More on the Solicitation Than You Spend on the System or Service You’re Soliciting – Use An Appropriate Vehicle! If it <$10M use a GWAC like the ones from GSA or NIH. You'll pay them less to use the vehicle than you'll pay your lawyers to review your RFP!
2- RFPs Should Ask for Discriminators; If You’re Not Going to or Can’t Evaluate It, Don’t Ask for It! (unless you intend to incorporate the proposal by reference in the resulting contract so you can hold them to what they promise)
3- If You’re ONLY going to Evaluate One Thing – Make it Past Performance on a Similar Effort of Like Size … Next Evaluate Processes!
4- Incorporate by Reference Proposals into The Resulting Contract! Otherwise they can promise you the Moon and not give it to you.
5- MDA Oversight is a Good Thing – It Makes YOU Pay Attention to What’s Important!
6- Anything in Govt Worth Doing Is Worth Doing at Least 3 Times – Find Out Who Else Is Doing It and Either Let Them and you "reuse or site adapt" what they develop or Stop Them!
7- The PEO Allocates Responsibility for Developing Capabilities to the Most Appropriate Project/Program!
8- Let the PM Orchestrates All the Program Activities to Deliver capabilities!
-- Actually I have 20 of these but I'm tired of typing and you're probably tired of reading.

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