PSC charts troubling procurement trends

The Professional Services Council (PSC) has released a report, "Troubling Trends in Federal Procurement," showing that federal acquisition professionals are worried about whether they have the resources they need to do their jobs. Other issues that concern them include oversight, conflicting strategic initiatives and the development of good partnerships with industry.

"I don't think we're being overly dramatic" in titling the report "Troubling Trends," PSC President Stan Soloway said. "This is as tough an environment as they've ever seen. The missions are tougher, and the tools aren't always there."

This marks the third such survey PSC has conducted, with help from Grant Thornton. The council surveys acquisition managers once every two years. This year, Soloway said, strategic initiatives such as lines of business and strategic sourcing have begun, and agency leaders are trying to determine how to implement them when their goals seem to conflict.

"It's not criticizing or questioning the initiatives in and of themselves," he said.

Procurement leaders may also have difficulty with strategic programs because they must deal with details of conducting acquisitions, said Diane Shute, a partner at Grant Thornton. "They can't get themselves out from under the tactics to get to the strategic level," she said.

Soloway said the report does not suggest that the acquisition workforce is too small. "I can't say flat out that we don't have enough people," he said. "What we do know is the resources aren't adequate."

Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel at PSC, elaborated on the point, saying that many people who work in agency acquisition roles are saddled with what he terms “non-value-added" work. Increasing the resources available for acquisition could, in some cases, simply be a matter of reallocating the employees that an organization already has.

"You have to look at where they are and what they're doing," he said.

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