OFPP nominee sets priorities

Office of Federal Procurement Policy

Updating the acquisition workforce's knowledge and skills and reviewing procurement practices across government will be top priorities for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the nominee to lead the agency told Congress Thursday.

President Bush's procurement-related management goals — including increasing performance-based contracting and the use of e-procurement — are important, but some underlying issues must be addressed, Angela Styles, the nominee for administrator at OFPP, testified during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

In a March 9 memo from the Office of Management and Budget, of which OFPP is a part, the administration set a goal to have at least 20 percent of federal contracts using performance-based contracting techniques in fiscal 2002.

But when it comes to performance-based contracting, Styles said a basic problem "is that there is no agreement among the agencies in what defines a performance-based contract."

OFPP likely will continue to use the definition it has used in the past, including that the statement of work be defined in mission-related terms. But the real challenge is to get agency program and contracting officers to understand that they are supposed to state what they want, not what steps to take to get to what they want, she said.

Many members of Congress and industry have been concerned that the growing number of governmentwide and interagency contracts is hurting efficiency and competition, and that concern is justified, Styles said. There has been a "proliferation of these types of contracts," and there is no centralized way for agency contracting officers to find where they should go for the best value for their money, she said.

Past administrators of OFPP have pushed for a review of the number of contracts and management of those contracts across government. Last year, the Information Technology Resources Board completed a study commissioned by OFPP, but the recommendations came through too late in the Clinton administration for the agency to act upon them.

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