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Joanie Newhart: Building teams that can buy smarter

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Given federal procurement's complex administrative and regulatory environment, Joanie Newhart's job has never been easy. Now it's getting harder.

Newhart is the Obama administration's point person for federal procurement reform, and she is charged with making sure the government has the best possible workers on the front lines of government acquisition. The 30-year veteran of federal contracting was appointed associate administrator of acquisition workforce programs in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in 2010. Before that, she served at a half-dozen agencies as both a contractor and a federal employee.

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A look at little-known agency experts who are pushing critical broad-based initiatives, plus other leaders whose influence bears watching.

Sequester-driven budget cuts have brought new pressures, and as federal workers retire, agencies risk losing their procurement know-how. Although getting agencies to use strategic acquisition to buy smarter remains her top priority, Newhart said developing the acquisition workforce is a very close second. That task, she said, becomes more critical as seasoned experts retire and agencies need up-and-coming acquisition experts who can step in with innovative procurement strategies.

"The current budget challenges present an opportunity for the acquisition workforce to help agencies buy smarter and save money," she told FCW. "This is critical because one out of every six federal dollars is spent on contracts. We are encouraging the acquisition workforce to continuously improve how taxpayer dollars are spent."

"Many of the structural reforms that we are implementing in government procurement will be sustainable because of Joanie's great work to integrate them into the recruitment, retention and training priorities of our acquisition community," said OFPP Administrator Joe Jordan.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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