Denett: Agencies can compete more contracts

The government held competitions for 64 percent of its contracting dollars in fiscal 2007 — a stable percentage of the past three years — but the chief procurement officer said agencies can grow beyond that number.

“We need to do more to promote the appropriate use of tools and effective practices to improve and increase the use of competition,” Paul Denett, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, wrote in a memo released today.

He asked the Chief Acquisition Officers Council to create a competition working group to help agencies work together to find ways of boosting competition. Those methods could include discouraging contracting officers from extending a contract that was awarded without competition and holding face-to-face acquisition planning meetings with program offices.

The working group also would analyze governmentwide competition trend data, such as the levels of competition for different products and services, Denett wrote, adding that the information would help agencies evaluate how they did in meeting their competition goals.

“The analysis conducted by the working group will help individual agencies create more purposeful goals…and also help the acquisition community understand how individual agency buying patterns affect governmentwide competition,” Denett said in a statement.

Since fiscal 2005, the percentage of dollars competed has hovered at 64 percent, according to OFPP data. Meanwhile, the specific dollar amounts have steadily increased since. In fiscal 2007, the government competed $268 billion, while in fiscal 2005, it competed $238 billion.

Robert Burton, former deputy OFPP administrator, said government officials have to push for more competition, particularly when agencies are turning to task orders for quick purchases instead of holding full and open competitions.

“I think we need to sort of incentivize our workforce to make sure they embrace competition and that incentives are awarded properly,” Burton said.

About the Author

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

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