IRMCO's 50-year run is at an end

The long-standing Interagency Resources Management Conference, known as IRMCO, has come an end.

Kathleen Turco, associate administrator for governmentwide policy at the General Services Administration, said in an interview March 15 that IRMCO had run its course after five decades. GSA and the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council have created a new conference, the Acquisition Excellence conference. The conference is March 29 in Washington, DC.

IRMCO had been an annual event since the 1960s. However, after last year’s conference, when Turco considered its future direction, she and other GSA officials said the conference had lost its spark.

“We decided that IRMCO no longer had a purpose,” Turco said.

GSA and ACT/IAC team up on other events, including the annual Management of Change and Executive Leadership conferences. There is also ACT/IAC’s Small Business Conference. Turco said a revamped conference about acquisition strategies would link those conference better than the technology-focused IRMCO.

Turco talked with leaders at ACT/IAC about a change and they agreed acquisition is where they needed to go.

Now GSA and ACT/IAC want a forum where industry and federal employees can discuss how to survive with fewer resources by buying smarter.

“In these challenging budget times, those on the government side and the industry side need to make sure they’re sharing best acquisition practices as much as possible,” Turco said.

The underlying theme of the conference is collaboration between government and industry and, as important, among the various agencies, said Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager at CenturyLink, and co-chairwoman of the conference with Turco.

“While it is absolutely critical that government and industry collaborate, I think within the government—the user community, the program community, the [chief financial officer] community, and the acquisition community—must have great collaboration too,” she said.

The new conference will have panel on the interaction between contracting officers, their representatives and the program managers.

It’s an area needing attention to get a well-designed contract from the start, Gowen said.

“If the contracting officer is the recipient of somebody just throwing requirements across the transom and there isn’t a good dialog and collaboration upfront, you end up with acquisitions that iterate and iterate and cost industry and government,” she said.

Government and industry leaders champion this type of interaction. They have recognized through the years that acquisition includes much more than signing a contract after a competitive bidding process. Instead, it’s planning with program managers to discuss what specifically their program needs, and after the award, managing a contract to ensure the service provider delivers.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 OccupyIT

I wonder who has the most hubris, Kathleen Turco or her boss? IRMCO was one of the most successful conferences of all time, often in spite of GSA's involvement as the USG sponsor. The real IRMCO, loved by all, actually on was around for 49 years. Last years was a heavy handed coup by GSA and yes, they did wind up with their version that indeed "no longer had a purpose". The sheer arrogance of the GSA monopoly continues to astound... sad.

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