Acquisition

Industry pushes to reform procurement

Robin Lineberger, Deloitte

Deloitte's federal services CEO Robin Lineberger is co-chairing a commission to recommend procurement strategies to Congress.

A group of industry experts plans to give lawmakers ideas on smart procurement strategies as agencies continue to expand their purchases of IT services.

The Professional Services Council announced on Jan. 25 that it has launched a new commission to review what it considers systemic barriers to efficiency and innovation in government procurement.

“Our objective in forming this commission is to articulate the ways in which the government can align the federal acquisition process for services—such as IT or engineering services—with program outcomes to create a sustainable acquisition ecosystem,” said Robin Lineberger, CEO of federal government services at Deloitte and co-chair of the commission. A full report to Congress is expected by April.

A large percentage of the federal acquisition workforce is nearing retirement, which could leave  an overextended and underexperienced corps of procurement officers struggling with increasingly complex IT projects. Looming budget cuts only add to that challenge.

"In light of this problematic combination of forces and concerns, and the consistency of those concerns over an entire decade, we believe it is the right time for a serious reassessment of how the federal acquisition workforce is educated and trained," according to a PSC survey on acquisition policy released in December.

At the same time, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee delved into the complications of IT procurement in a Jan. 28 hearing. It restarted discussions on fine-tuning IT investment strategies and how agencies go about purchasing IT services.

Testifying at the hearing, former Rep. Tom Davis said the government struggles because of an insufficient procurement process and acquisition workforce. He said the system’s objective should be geared toward getting the best deal, but many side initiatives distract agencies.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking member, said the government needs to spend wisely on IT while not forgetting federal employees. Indeed, he said, the acquisition community needs the tools necessary to effectively oversee increasingly complex systems from beginning to end. The committee also heard from Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office.

The commission seeking to address those concerns includes 17 members of PSC's board of directors, and is expected to hold meetings throughout February and March. Throughout the process, the commission will seek input from stakeholders and experts, including PSC member companies, federal officials and others with common interests.

About the Author

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

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