DOD shown model for acquisition

"Best Practices: Taking a Strategic Approach Could Improve DOD's Acquisition of Services"

The Defense Department could save millions of dollars and improve the quality of the services it buys by taking a strategic approach to those purchases, a new analysis by the General Accounting Office suggests.

DOD, however, needs to overcome longstanding problems, including its troubled financial systems, weaknesses with its Standard Procurement System, and shortcomings with DOD's e-commerce efforts, the report said.

The report, "Best Practices: Taking a Strategic Approach Could Improve DOD's Acquisition of Services," reviewed the buying practices at six companies that have been recognized for how they purchase services. Those companies — Brunswick Corp., Dun & Bradstreet Corp., EDS, Exxon Mobil Corp., Hasbro Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. — have be able to show substantial savings and service improvements.

GAO found there were four general principles that the companies followed:

* Commitment: They had strong up-front commitment from top leaders.

* Knowledge: The organizations developed information systems to analyze how much was being spent on services and who the suppliers were.

* Change: To support changes to coordinate service acquisition, the companies had to make changes in business processes, organizational structure and responsibilities.

* Support: Re-engineering efforts were supported through sustained leadership, clear lines of communication and metrics for success.

"The principles and practices largely reflect a common-sense approach toward almost any business venture, that is, providing good leadership, developing and harnessing knowledge, making sure business processes maximize return, and measuring results," the GAO report says.

The GAO analysis acknowledges that strategic buying of services is a difficult task. Furthermore, given DOD's scope and size, a one-size-fits-all approach will not necessarily work. DOD "will need to tailor its approach to meet its specific needs and requirements," the GAO report says.

In addition, DOD will need to assess how the existing problems with its IT and financial management systems could impact its service contracting initiatives, GAO said.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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