Agencies sign pledge to award improved IT acquisition

In an effort to improve the way agencies purchase information technology representatives from more than 20 agencies last week signed a pact to offer incentives to employees who come up with innovative procurement ideas that save money or improve business practices.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy developed the incentive program to encourage employees to improve the way the government buys computer systems and how those systems improve agencies' ability to provide government services.

"We have an enormous need to make [IT] projects work better " said Steven Kelman administrator of OFPP. "It is a prime target of opportunity for getting improved results."

Kelman who with Mort Downey deputy secretary at the Transportation Department officiated the pact-signing ceremony and said he hoped many of the incentives will go to employees with ideas that resulted in procuring computers or IT "that works that delivers."

"Such incentives are to be assigned to achievement of improved results in discrete acquisition(s) or to systemic process improvement practices as opposed to employee performance awards that acknowledge sustained overall excellence in general day-to-day job performance " according to the agency pledge.

Agency Incentives

In signing the pact agency officials agreed to create agencywide award programs that offer monetary or nonmonetary awards that are "significant enough to stimulate the desired performance outcomes." The value of the monetary awards would be left up to individual agencies and nonmonetary awards would include numerous rewards such as extra vacation days.

Agencies also agreed to measure savings and other results that come from the procurement improvements and to share with each other their results of efforts to improve the procurement process."The key word here is results " Kelman said. "Better results."

Kenneth J. Buck acting director of acquisition management at the Commerce Department and who signed the pledge said the program will emphasize IT - from automation software to revamped procurement databases - as a tool for more efficient procurement rather than simply the subject of procurement.

"Let's be clear: Technology is an enabler " he said. "We use technology as an enabler to get us to the outcome."

Office of Management and Budget director Franklin Raines said he hopes the incentives program will encourage employees to accomplish more with fewer dollars as Congress continues to tighten agency IT budgets.

A common gripe among federal employees is: "I'm not armed with what's necessary to make me a good manager and capable of reform " Raines said. But the good performers according to Raines will be the ones who can marshal the tools they do have to help save the government money in some cases more money than the president has the power to move around in his budget he said.

* * * * *

AGENCY PLEDGE

Accordingly we agree and pledge to:

* Implement agencywide awards programs that reward acquisition and program officials for creating and implementing significantly improved results on an individual contract or contracts or innovative changes in contracting processes that save money and enhance mission attainment.

* Offer monetary and/or nonmonetary awards that are significant enough to stimulate the desired performance outcomes.

* Measure savings and other tangible results derived from the procurements or process improvements that are honored.

* Share with and publicize with OFPP and other agencies the results of these efforts.

* Expand the use of procurement practices highlighted by the awards.

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