TheConversation

Blog archive

The dangers of checklists

workers

Improving the acquisition workforce is a key component of Better Buying Power 2.0, but a reader cautions against a compiance-based approach. (Stock image)

To our story on DOD's Better Buying initiative, a reader wrote: I think the government bureaucracy has lost the forest while looking at the trees. Contracts that used to recognize a rough order of magnitude for minutiae now require burdensome justification. (Requiring an itemized list of screws needed in a research assembly… absolutely absurd!) The contracting agent is now happy that his little checklist has all the necessary checks… while the cost of bidding is going up exponentially driven by the inflation of the paperwork!

We need government people who can think, not bean counters looking at an acquisition check-off list.

Amber Corrin responds: Great points – and complaints I hear about frequently from government contractors. I think this ties in with a culture of oversight that focuses on check-the-box approaches to a number of government activities, including acquisition and cybersecurity.

Ashton Carter, deputy defense secretary, and Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, both addressed this idea at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week, in the event that occasioned our earlier story. They noted that tackling the oversight-heavy approach to acquisition is a top priority in the Better Buying Power reform efforts.

Kendall said he's "waging a continuing war against non-value added activities" – sounds like excessive checklists might be among those – and that officials want to take that burden off managers and return them to what they should be doing.

"I share industry's concern about an excessive oversight culture. I've long been concerned that the number of watchers was approaching the number of doers in the department," Carter said. "We may in fact be reaching that threshold, especially with respect to things like audits. And we're trying to work internally and work with industry to address these issues."

Posted by Amber Corrin on May 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM


The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group