Procurement: From fast to cheap

Agencies' computer systems eventually will be hooked together to enable offices to consolidate buying power, compare bids and save money on large buys, according to an Army official.

Ken Oscar, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition and logistics, said that this trend will occur naturally, but policy will help guide it. For example, the FedBizOpps single portal for industry to search for governmentwide business opportunities is growing and evolving, Oscar said.

Procurement reform and innovations such as government credit cards have made buying much faster for agencies. However, agencies should now focus on getting the best deal by comparing multiple vendor bids, Oscar said. "Buyers aren't doing the price comparisons they should."

Agencies must also improve the management systems that track procurement data, Oscar said, speaking Thursday at an e-commerce seminar sponsored by the Coalition for Government Procurement.

"If we ask how much business is done in a [particular] state with small business or how many pencils I bought or how many times has a contractor been late with delivery, we don't know," he said. "We don't have good management systems or data."

Oscar, who was most recently acting deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, took up his new position in the Army a few weeks ago.

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