Acquisition

OFPP set for new IT acquisition initiatives

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Three months ago the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo to federal agencies expanding category management practices and digital acquisition strategies, and championing more effective vendor engagement on large-scale IT projects. Now it's looking to go even further.

Anne Rung, administrator of OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in a March 3 speech that she's been "pleased" the last three months with the progress on the memo's core priorities. Speaking at ACT-IAC's 2015 Acquisition Excellence conference on March 3 in Washington, Rung said initial efforts that sprung from the memo were ripening, but more were needed.

She noted that broad federal efforts to implement category management techniques across agencies manned by category experts were advancing. "We're moving forward on a number of categories, but we're doing our deepest dive on IT," she said. She noted the General Services Administration was implementing a prices paid portal for IT goods, as a well as rolling out informational product hallways under category management practices that have contract details, best practices and pricing information in a single location.

However, Rung also listed a number of tweaks to those efforts that she said would sharpen federal acquisition efforts in the coming months. To maintain the focus on category management efforts across government, Rung said OMB would hire a category manager to work with new federal CIO Tony Scott, OFPP, and Mary Davie, GSA's assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services, to improve how the government spends $25 billion every year on IT commodities.

Rung told FCW afterwards that the IT category manager would work on the eGov team at OMB.

OMB, she said will also hire an IT vendor manager who will work at GSA to provide full-time focus on improving relationships with key vendors, especially those with multiple contracts that offer similar goods and services.

In the coming weeks, Rung said, her office would also issue guidance telling agencies to seek out feedback from vendors and from internal contracting personnel on how well high-dollar IT acquisitions were run. She said the new effort, called Acquisition 360, is the first feedback tool that will allow agencies to identify weaknesses in their acquisition processes, including pre-and post award activities, including post-award debriefings.

Additionally, she said OFPP is looking to looking to advance agile development, partnering with the U.S. Digital Service and GSA to develop trial programs aimed at fostering agile and digital practices across government. In the coming weeks, she said, OFPP would post a challenge to industry on Challenge.gov to help develop a program to certify contracting workers in digital services acquisition strategies. That program, she said, would not necessarily be classroom-based, but more "experiential."

Additionally, Rung said she plans to continue to reach out to both industry federal acquisition personnel through a variety of channels. She said she plans on launching a series of podcasts in the coming weeks that note successful implementation of the TechFAR and Digital Playbook strategies released last August. OFPP also plans to partner with ACT-IAC on a series of discussions with industry, called "Lifting the Veil" to explain in-depth some of the federal government's acquisition practices.

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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