Procurement council to unveil strategy

After three years of working in the background, a panel of senior procurement executives from across government is putting the finishing touches on a strategic plan to transform federal acquisition practices to better support agencies' missions and programs.

The Procurement Executives Council's fiscal 2001 strategic plan, due to be released later this month, is intended to support the vision of an acquisition workforce that draws on commercial-style business practices.

The PEC's strategic plan identifies five priorities:

Create a workforce of "mission-oriented business leaders." Maximize the use of technology to support acquisitions. Conduct outreach and collaboration with other organizations that operate across the government. Integrate socioeconomic programs into the acquisition process. Improve acquisition practices. The plan outlines goals under each priority, including developing a standard document for getting procurement and financial systems to work together and starting a training program to enable existing acquisition workers to rotate among agencies.

This is the first year that the PEC will exert obvious influence over the federal procurement arena, although during the past three years it has aided the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in coordinating procurement policies across government, said Paul Denett, PEC vice chairman and senior procurement executive at the Interior Department.

The PEC comprises senior procurement executives from each cabinet- level department, large independent agencies such as NASA and small agency representatives.

The acquisition vision started under the Clinton administration, but the priorities outlined also fit well with ideas from President Bush. During his campaign, Bush laid out three goals relating to acquisition: rely more on performance-based contracting, move significant government procurements to the Internet in three years and open competition to the private sector for functions not inherently governmental.

Whether or not the initiatives are enacted, the basic ideas are still key to the vision of the federal acquisition system, under which the acquisition office in any agency will be able to work with program managers to better serve employees and citizens, Denett said.

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