OFPP pick: Update skills

Office of Federal Procurement Policy

Updating the acquisition workforce's knowledge and skills and reviewing procurement practices across government top the priorities for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, according to the nominee to lead the office.

President Bush's procurement-related management goals — including increasing performance-based contracting and the use of electronic procurement — are important, but agencies must address some underlying issues, said Angela Styles, testifying May 17 before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee during her hearing to be confirmed as OFPP administrator.

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

But in meeting that goal, 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 follow the definition it has used in the past, including that the statement of work be defined in mission-related terms. But agency program and contracting officers must define what they want from vendors, not the steps to take to get what they want, Styles said. This will require a new set of skills.

There are other challenges. Many lawmakers and industry leaders have been concerned that the increasing number of governmentwide and interagency contracts hurts efficiency and competition, and that concern is justified, Styles said. There has been a "proliferation of these types of contracts," and contracting officers have no centralized way to find where they should go for the best value for their money, she said.

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