Rung: Category management needs sustained vision

Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

Office of Federal Procurement Policy chief Anne Rung says year-old category management initiatives have taken hold, but the acquisition community should take a longer view.

A year and a few months after the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo expanding federal category management practices, Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the federal government is making headway in becoming a more agile, smarter buyer of goods and services, but there's still work to do.

"Are we nimble enough?" she asked conference attendees at ACT-IAC's Acquisition Excellence 2016 conference in Washington on March 22. "We're planting the seeds" that will grow into more mature, institutional, mission-oriented practices, she said, with category management.

Rung will most likely leave OFPP when the new administration arrives, but said the category management practices should live on after she departs.

"We're seeing and feeling the shift around category management," she said. "We realize this is a multi-year effort…The signs over the last year have been incredible."

Rung also ticked off some of the more notable advances category management has made in the last year. She said the General Services Administration's Acquisition Gateway, which concentrates contract, pricing and other acquisition information for federal contracting officers, has about 6,500 users, with an aim to have 10,000 by the year's end. GSA has also opened some sections of the gateway to the general public.

"Since I spoke here last year, we’ve already realized nearly $2 billion ... in annual savings as a result of category management," Rung said.

OMB recently named 10 category managers to oversee the10 "supercategories" for commonly purchased items across the federal government. And Rung said OMB's guidance centralizing and streamlining the purchase of personal computers has dropped prices as much as 50 percent.

The agency is now working on similar guidance on software licensing and mobile phones and services. The software guidance is currently out for public comment, while Rung said the mobile guidance "should be out in the next few months," after interagency reviews are completed.

OMB is also taking stock of where the federal agencies can improve their interaction with vendors and customers. Rung said research and surveys conducted as part of the Acquisition 360 program she launched a year ago show that agencies aren't good at debriefing vendors.  OFPP, she said, is working on ways to reach out to the federal workforce for solutions to that.

As her tenure at OFPP draws enters the home stretch, Rung said she's looking to the newly named category managers to submit development plans for managing their categories, and to identify where the more-immediate, low-hanging savings opportunities lie. "Those will be developed before I leave at the end of the year," she said.

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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