Kelman bids OMB adieu; heads back to Harvard U.

Steven Kelman administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy said on July 10 that he plans to leave his post Sept. 12 citing professional and family reasons.

Kelman who came to OFPP four years ago from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government said Harvard would not let him keep his tenured teaching position if he does not return this year. He said that even if he could have negotiated an extension of his leave of absence remaining in Washington D.C. for only a short time longer would disrupt the schooling of his oldest daughter who is starting high school this fall.Kelman said he intends to remain involved in federal procurement issues. "I hope I will be able to participate in a very active way."

He spearheaded Clinton administration efforts to improve the federal acquisition system pushing for new agency buying practices and backing sweeping legal changes enacted by Congress. Many agency officials vendors and attorneys give Kelman credit for easing regulations that slowed purchases of information systems although not everyone thinks the results are completely positive.

"He has flat out changed the culture " said Bob Dornan senior vice president at Federal Sources Inc. who has criticized the effects of some acquisition changes on vendors.

Kelman "has presided over a revolution not a bunch of incremental changes and [has] been in a meaningful leadership role " said Bert Concklin executive director at the Professional Services Council. "[What] he has largely been responsible for forging is an absolute departure from the past in the sense that federal contracting should be almost exclusively focused on results not micromanaging the contracting process."The Clinton administration has not yet selected Kelman's successor to the politically appointed post though sources familiar with the deliberations said Colleen Preston who worked closely with Kelman when she was Defense deputy undersecretary for acquisition reform is a candidate.

Kelman said a major accomplishment during his tenure has been to get agencies to think more about contractor performance pre- and post-award. Alan Burman a former OFPP head who now is president of the consulting firm Jefferson Solutions LLC Washington D.C. said it will be "critical" for whoever takes the job to continue to press these issues. "These things don't happen overnight or by themselves so you need someone who is trying to steer the ship a bit."

"I think because there has been such tremendous change the successor will have to focus on steadying the boat " said Olga Grkavac senior vice president at the Information Technology Association of America Systems Integration Division. "There's been so much change you have to see that it's implemented correctly."

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