Congress is concerned that contracting officers are not following the spirit of competition
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy plans to kick off a full-scale
review of federal contracting practices, including an evaluation of how
well current contract vehicles are serving the needs of federal agencies
and commercial vendors.
Congress has expressed concern that contracting officers at agencies are
not following the spirit of competition, are using services contracts to
buy labor hours instead of end-to-end solutions and do not emphasize results.
However, OFPP is taking steps to head off congressional involvement in reviewing
agency procurement practices, OFPP Administrator Deidre Lee said Thursday
at the Coalition for Government Procurement conference.
The first step is to catalog the contracts available in the market. Agencies
have until March 1 to respond to an OFPP letter requesting a list of all
contracts they maintain. Those lists will be compiled and posted on the
World Wide Web for OFPP, agencies and vendors to reference.
Once the list is complete, OFPP will ask agencies to analyze how effective
the contracts are. OFPP also will ask agency contracting officials to determine
whether the contracts are producing a reasonable return on investment for
the agency and the government, she said.
"If we are truly business managers in government...we have to focus more
on the results and does it work?" she said.
OFPP also is working with the Information Technology Review Board to evaluate
the effectiveness of all federal procurement reforms that have been put
in place to date. The evaluation will be anonymous and will focus on analyzing
trends, Lee said. Specifically, it will look at the responsibilities of
the agencies that hold the contracts, the agencies using the contracts and
the vendors on the contracts.
But there are serious concerns surrounding services contracting, Lee said.
Many agencies do not look for complete solutions and do not base their contracting
decisions on results, she said.
"When we move to services, we are going to have to figure out a way that
we aren't ordering by the hour," she said. "We're going to have to do a
full-court press to educate ourselves on how to think more results-oriented."