Insourcing: It's still more with less

It's time to use available commercial technologies and business practices and bring federal acquisition into the 21st century, Bruce Sullivan writes.

The federal workforce will have to do more with less in the next several years, notwithstanding the Obama administration's emphasis on insourcing and hiring more acquisition professionals. Insourcing will shift the focus of current resources to moving work in-house, and it will take several years for the new acquisition workforce to become productive.

Procedures and tools already available to acquisition officers could speed the acquisition process and make it more cost efficient. I'm referring to multiagency contract vehicles, price-comparison Web portals and purchasing cards.

A recent Federal Computer Week article [“A handbook on acquisition reforms,” Sept. 21] mentioned that roughly 80 percent of the work involved in contracting is avoided when using multiagency vehicles. However, such contracts need to be effectively managed to avoid duplicative efforts by competing agencies.

In a perfect world, there would be a single contract vehicle from which everyone in the government would order needed supplies and services. However, we are living in a far from perfect world, and getting disparate people and organizations to agree on a single solution is daunting. Agencies will resist giving up their contracts as they justify resources and, in some cases, revenue.

But rather than agencies fighting over who gets what, why not let the buyers decide? Why can’t the Office of Management and Budget require the development of a purchasing portal that would search all agency contracts and present options for making the best value decision? The technology is not new. In fact, most of us already use price comparison sites such as BizRate, PriceGrabber, Orbitz and mySimon in our personal lives.

So we are halfway there. After agencies have the capability to select from the best sources, they should achieve greater efficiencies and lower prices. But then again, why don’t we rethink how the ordering on those multiagency contracts is accomplished?

Back in the mid-1990s, the government eliminated roughly half of the contract actions going into purchasing offices by issuing purchase cards for acquisitions worth less than $2,500. Administrative savings were $54 to $92 for each card purchase. The same data showed that another 48 percent of the government's contract actions were valued less than $25,000, and many of those were orders issued against existing contracts.

Why not increase spending authority for those purchases to some point between $2,500 and $25,000? Federal regulations encourage the use of the purchase cards to place orders and pay for purchases against contracts. The use of a price-comparison portal by numerous, decentralized cardholders to place orders would allow the overworked acquisition workforce to turn its attention to more complex and critical functions that are not being accomplished, thus achieving key missions at multiple agencies by improving effectiveness and efficiency.

The administration's plans come as OMB is asking agencies to submit alternative budget targets that would freeze spending at the fiscal 2010 request level and reduce spending by 5 percent in fiscal 2011. Therefore, the only way the government can continue to provide quality services is to become more productive. And the only way for agencies to become more productive is by redefining what they do and how they do it and by giving agencies the tools they will need to get there.

It’s time to use available commercial technologies and business practices and bring federal acquisition into the 21st century.

Editor's note: The views expressed herein are the author's alone.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.