Defense puts out CD-ROM deskbook

The Defense Department last week published the first official edition of its CD-ROM-based Defense Acquisition Deskbook a compendium of DOD and government acquisition policies and a store house for more discretionary guidelines that may assist program offices.

DOD originally announced the deskbook in the spring when it released a streamlined rewrite of acquisition policy guidelines. The deskbook brings together those policies - DOD Acquisition Directives 5000.1 and 5000.2R - with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and a host of supplements and reference material.

The CD-ROM which will be issued quarterly and has a companion World Wide Web site also includes the beginnings of a library of material gathered on the acquisition "front lines " such as best practices lessons learned and examples of innovative procurements.

With this information on-line Defense acquisitions shops have "all the information they need to make informed decisions " said Lt. Col. Dave London program manager for the Defense Acquisition Deskbook in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Reform.

The CD-ROM is being distributed to about 5 000 procurement shops and other DOD offices and offered to industry vendors for $35 which is roughly cost.

DOD believes the deskbook makes procurement policies more accessible by bringing all the material together in an easily accessible format.

The information is divided into what is mandatory and what is discretionary. Users also receive pointers on where to get any information that may not be provided such as Internet addresses for specific acquisition-related Web sites.

The CD-ROM not only is more compact than stacks of paper documents but also provides a graphical user interface and search engine to make it easy to locate information DOD said. "It provides you many different paths to get the information you need rather than searching blindly " said Doreen Harwood a staff member in DOD's acquisition reform office.

Additionally because the CD-ROM will be published quarterly users are more likely to keep up to date on changes in guidelines than they have in the past. Rather than adding or substituting pages of a binder they simply swap CD-ROM disks as the new volumes come out.

"Sometimes especially with the rapid changes that are happening with acquisition reform those changes are not being communicated as rapidly as they should be " London said.

The Web site - deskbook.osd.mil/deskbook.html - provides an even more flexible vehicle for putting out information. The site features a bulletin board where DOD can publish new policies and any discretionary material that is especially topical.

A feature called "Ask a Professor" will allow users to get answers to acquisition-related questions from faculty members of DOD universities. In most cases the answers will be posted on an electronic bulletin board within 10 days.

The publication of the deskbook also ensures that a uniform and consistent message will get out to government and industry contracting shops DOD said. This should "improve the communications so we can share ideas and make sure they are seeing the same policy we are seeing " London said.

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