DOD procurement chief: Just deliver

Federal contracting has become more focused on mission-oriented solutions,

but agencies still need to make acquisitions personnel understand that the

number of contracts they award is less important than delivering the goods.

"Who cares if we have the perfect contract if we don't have delivery?"

Deidre Lee, director of procurement at the Defense Department, asked Thursday

at the Federal Contracting 2001 conference in Washington, D.C. "We may have

a really spiffy contract, but are we getting the product to the warfighter?

If we're really business people, that's what we've got to focus on."

Lee, who left her position as administrator of the Office of Federal

Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget in June, said

she is trying to spread this philosophy throughout DOD. But every agency

around government needs to move in this direction, and basic contract management

is key, she said.

Contracting officers and program managers should meet regularly with

vendors to discuss how contracts are going and what can be improved, Lee

said. This is the kind of information that should be put into databases,

like the one recently released online by the Defense Department, she said.

A vendor's past performance is a major part of any contract award, but

the only way to get true past-performance information is by collecting it

while the contract is underway, not after the fact, Lee said.

Contracting officers also need to have access to all contract vehicles

available throughout government, and understand that they do not need to

award their own contract if there is already one that will serve the program's

purpose, she said.

Even once you get past the basic unwillingness to use someone else's

contract, few acquisition personnel know exactly which contracts are available

to them and what those contracts can offer, Lee said.

Under Lee, DOD is developing a full collection of the contracts available

to more than one agency. "We're going to round them up, make a list," she

said.

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