Management focus boosts contracting

The "tremendous focus on management issues" in the president's fiscal 2003 budget will be the most visible sign of the drive to expand governmentwide initiatives to improve contracting, the White House's top acquisition official said Jan. 29.

The budget request — to be submitted to Congress Feb. 4 — will continue the administration's focus on government reform and will include a report on the first evaluation of agencies' implementation of the president's management agenda, said Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

In October 2001, OMB released the scorecard by which the administration plans to measure agencies' progress with the five agenda items: strategic management of human capital, expanded use of e-government, increased competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, and integration of budget and performance.

The scores are green for success, yellow for mixed results and red for unsatisfactory, and "at this point, about 80 percent of our initiatives are red," Styles said at the E-Procurement Conference in Washington, D.C.

The administration is using these first-year scores to emphasize the importance of supporting the initiatives underway for each agenda item, she said.

One outside initiative that will affect the competitive sourcing agenda item is the General Accounting Office's Commercial Activities Panel review of the A-76 process. Agencies use OMB Circular A-76 as the cost-comparison tool when considering whether to outsource a government function to the private sector.

The panel, with members from OMB, labor unions, the private sector and academia, will issue its report in May with "recommendations for a new process that we'll be able to implement soon after," said Styles, who served as the administration's representative on the panel.

Initiatives under the competitive sourcing agenda item include several new or revamped information technology systems to improve agencies' interaction with vendors and citizens, Styles said. This includes:

* Expanding the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system, a database that collects and stores information on vendors involved in procurements with the government.

* Developing the Federal Acquisition Management Information System (FAMIS), the planned update to the almost 17-year-old Federal Procurement Data System. FAMIS will update the type of information gathered on federal procurements and also make it easier to collect and report on that information.

* Creating the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), a governmentwide Web-based system that will connect to all agency acquisition systems to collect and provide instant access to vendor performance information, a key consideration in contract awards.

* Revamping the Acquisition Reform Network Web site into the Acquisition Network, an update that will include allowing the public to view comments on proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation online after the comment period has ended.

Acquisition reform has resulted in many improvements for federal agencies, but now is the time to figure out how to ensure those improvements are really helping government improve its performance, Styles said.


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