OFPP nominee lays out agenda

Paul Denett, President Bush’s nominee for administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, told a Senate committee today that he plans to build a world-class acquisition system by measuring contractors’ performance, giving employees training that fits the latest challenges and creating more competition for government contracts.

Denett, a veteran of government and industry procurement positions, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for his confirmation hearing. He told the committee he understands the challenges facing the OFPP administrator after Hurricane Katrina and during the war on terrorism.

As managers of federal contracts, Denett said, “we must ensure contractors make good on their commitments and are held accountable for results.”

The administrator position for OFPP, a branch of the Office of Management and Budget, has been vacant since former administrator David Safavian resigned in September 2005. He was indicted on criminal charges in October 2005, and, today, a jury convicted Safavian on four felony counts of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice.

Bush nominated Denett in April.

In testimony, Denett said he intends to offer better training to the acquisition workforce so they can handle increasingly complex challenges. He also plans to address hiring needs as concern lingers about an exodus of aging employees. He said he aims to have agencies running more effectively in emergency situations by planning ahead. He also wants agencies to communicate with one another.

Denett added that contracts need clear performance standards.

Moreover, “agencies must dedicate sufficient resources to contract administration to evaluate if contract work is meeting agency needs,” he said.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) reiterated the importance of sound policies coming from OFPP to halt wasteful government spending.

OFPP is central to setting policies, and it has an obligation to seek the best value in purchasing, as the federal government spends $350 billion annually in goods and services, Collins said.

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