HHS Buyers Club setting an example

The Buyers Club's Mark Naggar said the program has widespread appeal because "folks are looking to do more with less."

Almost a year into the life of the Department of Health and Human Services' Buyers Club, the innovative program has become an integral part of federal acquisition reform efforts, one of the program's managers said.

"Everyone still has a limited amount of money to use," Project Manager Mark Naggar said in an interview with FCW. "Folks are looking to do more with less."

Prior to joining HHS last April, Naggar spent more than four years as a contract specialist focused on international acquisitions in support of global health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Departing HHS Chief Technology Office Bryan Sivak recruited Naggar from CDC because of the nimble, innovative acquisition techniques he developed there.

"We couldn't have started without him," Naggar said, but Sivak's exit won't slow down the effort.

The Buyers Club has been gaining momentum in the past few months as it has become a touchstone for larger federal acquisition reform efforts. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy highlighted the Buyers Club's use of the TechFAR Handbook and the Digital Services Playbook in the first of a series of podcasts it launched in March.

Naggar is also helping to build a Federal-wide Buyers Club community to carry some of the agile techniques begun at HHS to other agencies. The group joined the HHS Buyers Club, OFPP and the General Services Administration's 18F innovation lab in hosting the Inaugural Conference for Innovative Acquisitions in February.

Even though the weather was snowy that day, Naggar said the conference drew more than 500 federal employees from 20 agencies to talk about innovative acquisition approaches, including veteran procurement professionals, IT specialists and program managers.

In October, the HHS Buyers Club awarded a significant, agile-developed contract for a Web content management system and public-facing website at the agency's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Officials used a 10-page statement of objectives and a down-select process to encourage vendor innovation and accelerate the acquisition.

Naggar expects the Buyers Club to award similar but smaller contracts in the coming months as officials continue their search for procurements that are less time- and capital-intensive. Another contract similar to ASPE's is in the final stages of development at HHS, and a few others are in the early

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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