Lessons in contracting
- By Diane Frank
- Mar 19, 2000
The Defense Department is enhancing the resources available to its acquisition
work force, including new policies and training that will help the department
focus on performance-based contracting.
In the wake of criticism from the DOD inspector general, Congress and
the General Accounting Office concerning wasted money and poor contracting
processes, DOD has started initiatives that will better train
acquisition personnel to deal with the commercial marketplace, said Stan
Soloway, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition reform, testifying
before the House Government Reform Committee's Government Management, Information
and Technology Subcommittee last week. "They key is... our work force and
how well we prepare them for the challenges ahead," he said.
To emphasize the department's focus on performance-based contracting,
Jacques Gansler, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology,
will soon issue a policy calling for 50 percent of DOD contracts to be performance-based
by 2005, Soloway said.
"Part and parcel of [acquisition reform] will be our ever-growing focus
on performance — or outcome standards — rather than traditional military-or
government- unique specifications," he said.
DOD has cut its acquisition work force in half since 1991, but the number
of procurements and the value of those contracts has increased, said Robert
Lieberman, DOD assistant inspector general for auditing.
On Feb. 29, the DOD inspector general released a report detailing the
impact of the reductions on the acquisition work force and found that the
cutbacks have put added pressure on a group that has been ill-prepared to
also deal with changing regulations and the commercial market, Lieberman
said. "We need to get a handle on properly sizing the [DOD] acquisition
work force," he said. "We need to better understand what the workload on
acquisition offices really is."