OFPP looks for fuller procurement vista

A new feedback tool is aimed at identifying best practices and acquisition areas that need improvement.

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The White House's Office of Federal Procurement Policy is moving quickly to launch a new feedback tool aimed at opening a wider agency dialogue with IT vendors and among procurement personnel.

OFPP Administrator Anne Rung issued a nine-page memo March 18 directing federal agencies to seek feedback from vendors and federal contracting personnel on how well big-ticket IT acquisitions perform.

Rung had announced the effort in a March 3 speech at ACT-IAC's 2015 Acquisition Excellence event in Washington. In her remarks at the event, Rung said her office would issue guidance to agencies in the coming weeks telling them to seek feedback under a program called Acquisition 360, which she said would be the first tool to allow agencies to identify weaknesses in their acquisition processes.

In a March 18 blog post that links to the memo, Rung elaborated on the initial announcement, saying long, ineffective communications between federal agencies and vendors, topped by complex processes, have led to "unnecessary burden on vendors, higher government costs and unfavorable outcomes for taxpayers."

Rung's memo said Acquisition 360, which resembles the customer-driven reviews sponsored by Yelp, builds on OFPP's Dec. 4, 2014, Transforming the Marketplace memo and earlier "myth-busting" efforts.

The confidential, anonymous information gathered will give OFPP greater insight into vendors' experiences and a wider view of federal contracting officers' decision-making processes.

"In addition to getting feedback on how well the acquisition team worked, we are also interested in better understanding why contracting officers choose certain interagency solutions over others, or why they choose certain contract vehicles," Rung wrote in her blog post.

The memo directs contracting officers to solicit feedback from vendors with a voluntary, confidential "Rate the Agency" survey after agencies conclude the final debriefing on a contract. Agencies don't have to survey companies on all contracts; OFPP is only looking for feedback on 5 percent to 50 percent of new awards for complex IT development, systems or services by the end of fiscal 2015.

However, agencies must identify at least two of their largest and most complex IT contracts or orders issued in the past six months and conduct an external survey and two internal surveys. Agencies must report on the surveys' results by July.

Rung said those appraisals won't require new data collection systems and can be performed with free or low-cost commercially available tools or even via email.

The results of the internal and external assessments will be submitted to the agency's chief acquisition officer, senior procurement executive, vendor engagement official and other appropriate agency leaders. Rung said the results should be used to identify best practices and areas that need improvement but should not be used to evaluate individuals or make programmatic changes.

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