Acquisition workforce has OFPP nominee's attention

Gordon outlines priorities to Senate panel

Improving the federal acquisition workforce is at the top of his to-do list, says President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

“We need to focus our attention on developing an acquisition workforce — including contracting officers’ technical representatives and program managers, as well as contracting officers and contract specialists — that allows us to meet our mission goals and deliver value to the public,” Daniel Gordon, whom Obama nominated to be OFPP's administrator, told senators at his confirmation hearing Nov. 10.

The federal government’s spending has increased drastically in recent years. Spending through contracts rose from $205 billion in fiscal 2000 to $539 billion in fiscal 2008, a 163 percent increase. Meanwhile, the number of contracting officers, the core of the acquisition workforce, hasn’t kept pace. In 2000, the government had 26,751 contracting officers and the number had grown to only 29,707 by 2008, a 9 percent rise.

With a strong acquisition workforce, Gordon said he could more readily achieve his other objectives.

Gordon told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he wants to find ways to save money and reduce risk in the government’s contracts. He said he wants to improve the government's procurement planning. 

“Too often, pressure to move forward quickly comes at the expense of good acquisition planning,” said Gordon, who has been acting general counsel at the Government Accountability Office since 2006.

Agencies also need to manage contracts better after awarding them, Gordon said. "As stewards of the taxpayers, we must make sure those who contract with the government are delivering what they promised, in terms of price, schedule, and performance,” he said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the committee’s chairman, said the OFPP administrator is one of the most broadly supported and non-controversial nominations that the Senate considers. He said he will try to get the nomination through the committee and the Senate quickly.

About the Author

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

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