Gartner: Think about A-76 more

Agencies should put more strategic thought into competitive sourcing in order to make long-term decisions that will serve the agency well in the future, advised three Gartner Inc. analysts.

The Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76, which governs competitive sourcing, addresses tactical concerns but not strategic ones, the analysts said. They spoke at the G-Con conference this morning in Washington, D.C.

The A-76 process "is okay, but it will never give you a complete picture," said Lorrie Scardino, Gartner research director. Gartner analysts have outlined 14 factors that agencies should take into consideration, but the A-76 process requires agencies to carry out four of them, all pertaining to short-term considerations.

"By focusing on just the tactical things, you a miss a lot of things that allow you to develop a holistic strategy that you can live with for years to come," she said.

Agency chief information officers should be aware of how much their jobs will change as their agencies outsource work to private contractors, said analyst Liz Reynolds.

"You're now managing by performance management rather than a bunch of folks who are in-house under your nose," she said.

To manage the people involved in competitive sourcing, including employees who are afraid of being displaced, agencies should open communication between leaders and the rank-and-file as early as possible, she said.

Finally, she advised, agencies should not assume that outsourcing work will solve every problem. "You will have a whole new set of problems you will have to manage," Reynolds said.

Agencies also can't ignore the pressure to engage in competitive sourcing, said Chris Ambrose, Gartner research director. The pressure comes from government policies, including the President's Management Agenda, and from business and industry factors such as the aging federal workforce and budget constraints, he said.

"This is not something that's just a flavor of the month," he said.

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