Competitive sourcing gets a new name

Competitive sourcing no longer carries that name. The system's new name is "commercial services management," officials said today.

With the name change, acquisition officials are recognizing the ways agencies are trying improve their commercial operations, according to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). Also, agencies are using several techniques to do so, such as competitive sourcing, OFPP said in a memo released today.

Competitive sourcing, governed by the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76, pits a contractor against a team of federal employees reorganized to compete as a most efficient organization.

Along with competitive sourcing, the commercial services management initiative tracks how agencies re-engineer their business processes. Officials said such changes rely on disciplined management practices, such as measuring performance and cost, as well as a performance agreement covering the new organization. The agreement sets the expected performance, cost and projected savings, along with an independent verification of it, according to the memo.

In the memo, OFPP requires agencies to submit commercial services management plans for improving their operations through fiscal 2009 to their resource management offices by Aug. 29.


Congress views competitive sourcing skeptically. Lawmakers have tried to limit the practice by introducing language in numerous appropriations and authorization bills, including several House and Senate fiscal 2009 appropriations bills. Several proposals would stop public/private competitions for a year, letting the next president decide the future of the system.

However, officials are quick to note the initiative doesn’t ordinarily involve public/private competition, or the potential conversion of work from the government to the private sector. Competitive sourcing only refers to public/private competitions for federal work. Commercial services management covers a broader range of management tools, of which public/private competition is one tool, officials say.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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