Sorting keys to reform
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Nov 05, 2000
Office of Federal Procurement Policy
The Office of Management and Budget is developing a plan to refine the federal
procurement process, keyed to recommendations from a yearlong governmentwide
study handed to the agency last month.
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy commissioned the study, which
was conducted by the independent Information Technology Resources Board.
The study reviews changes brought about by acquisition reform measures such
as the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the Clinger- Cohen
Act of 1996.
Congress and OMB officials had expressed concern about the effectiveness
of the changes and wanted to know what improvements could be made.
The ITRB came up with nine recommendations, which OFPP will combine
with input from industry and other agency reviews, said Kenneth Oscar, acting
deputy administrator of OFPP.
"We'll take these recommendations and other peoples' recommendations
and bring them together into a single plan for implementation" for future
regulation, guidance and training, Oscar said. The agency will submit the
plan to Congress by January.
The ITRB recommendations shift the focus of contracting to the business-
oriented decision-making process that OFPP, the General Services Administration
and Congress have been stressing that agencies must use. Whether creating
an interagency contract in the best interests of the agencies or deciding
to use another agency's existing contract, the focus is on making informed
decisions, not just the easiest ones, Oscar said.
"We want to make sure you're just not buying blindly off a schedule,"
Often, the issue is better education to ensure that agencies understand,
said Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement,
an industry association that represents more than 300 firms in the federal
market. Many coalition members on GSA's Federal Supply Service schedule
have found that agencies are so happy using the quick-and-easy procurements
that they don't consider the details, he said.
"If there is a concern with abuses, it probably stems from a need to
make sure that people are using a good contract correctly," Allen said.
One key ITRB recommendation is to make sure that both the agency managing
the contract and the agency buying off the contract understand their responsibilities
in the acquisition process, Oscar said. This ranges from knowing how to
develop a performance-based statement of work to meeting small-business
OFPP's implementation plan likely will include a new requirement that
calls for something to be written into each contract describing "who is
doing what," he said.