OFPP's Denett: Competition works

Where some market observers see an overabundance of governmentwide acquisition contracts, the government's top procurement official sees market forces at work.

“I don’t see a proliferation of GWACs themselves,” said Paul Denett, administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in an interview Tuesday. Instead, he describes it as strategic, niche contracts that fill needs in the marketplace.

Denett approved NASA’s Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement IV GWAC Monday. In a letter to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, Denett wrote that NASA had shown a need for SEWP IV in the federal marketplace and that NASA has the expertise to lead it.

Competition is the bedrock for the federal marketplace, Denett said. “Some competition is beneficial. It keeps people paying attention to their customers.”

Too much competition could be counterproductive, he added. OFPP’s recent analysis uncovered about 200 agencywide contracts. By spring, Denett said he plans to issue guidelines and ground rules on the contracts to help departments best use them.

“My expectation is to see at what point we have enough of these,” Denett said. Attention needs to shift to the agencywide contracts instead of the 12 GWACs, and agencies are issuing significantly more money through them.

“We want to make it clear who’s responsible so things don’t fall between the cracks, and then we have the occasional misuse of these vehicles,” Denett said.

Lurita Doan, GSA administrator, has campaigned since August against NASA getting SEWP IV. She has emphasized that there is a proliferation of GWACs in the acquisition community. She said she believes GSA can do as well as NASA in leading SEWP, much of which includes IT commodities.

She said in a statement Tuesday, "We will continue to highlight ways to reduce the proliferation of GWACs and ask the hard questions to ensure that, if they continue, they are in the best interest of the American taxpayer."

Denett said he wants his decision to convey that he supports balanced procurement and appropriate amounts of competition.

Denett said GSA is improving its services. The key to GSA’s growth is good service and good prices. The various departments will respect that and place more orders with the procurement agency.

He said that GSA officials have talked with Commerce Department officials about taking over the Commerce Information Technology Solutions GWAC, a small business-oriented contract.
“On the surface I believe that might be a very good fit,” Denett said.


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