DOD acquisition officials see trade-off problem

Best-value trade-offs are time-consuming and a sticky subject

Defense Department officials acknowledged that inexperienced acquisition employees might have trouble choosing the best value among bids for major contracts.

They told the Government Accountability Office that a company's expertise or performance record is often more important than choosing the lowest bid. But that's a more time-consuming process, especially when it involves complex contracts, a lot of money and bid protests, according to a GAO report released Oct. 28.

Officials said making such trade-off decisions demands a great deal of business judgment, and inexperienced acquisition workers might not have that knowledge. Meanwhile, DOD plans to increase its acquisition workforce by roughly 6,400 employees by fiscal 2015 to meet contracting demands, GAO reports.


Related stories:

How to improve procurement: Stop talking about requirements

DOD, GAO differ on measuring the acquisition workforce


“With the influx of new staff, many of the contracting officers we met with noted challenges in preparing staff to conduct the trade-off process,” GAO auditors wrote.

In best-value trade-off decisions, a contracting officer weighs companies’ price proposals against other factors, such as their understanding of complex technical issues or a proven record of delivering similar products or services. In other words, the officer might choose the company with the best technical skills instead of the one with the lowest price.

In fiscal 2009, DOD used the best-value process for roughly 95 percent of new, competitively awarded contracts worth at least $25 million. Almost half of DOD’s contracts — 47 percent — were awarded that way.

DOD used the process for 88 of the 129 contracts GAO reviewed. However, DOD chose a lower-priced proposal nearly as often as it selected one that had a higher technical rating and higher cost.

In addition, 15 of the 88 contract awards were subject to bid protests.

DOD officials agreed with GAO that they need to develop employee training that focuses on reaching trade-off decisions.

About the Author

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

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 Bob

Haven't really seen any Really qualified Acq Staff yet. There's not a plan to pay for gov Acq Professionals for what they are worth on the outside. In addition though they often have and require much more experience, they are treated as the step-child of the Program Manager.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group