OMB sets goals for category management

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The White House is tasking federal agencies with deliverables and reporting requirements to institutionalize category management practices across the government.

In a March 20 guidance memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies, Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, wants agencies to show progress under the category management regimen.

Category management, implemented widely by the General Services Administration during the Obama administration, sets best in class contracts and other procurement practices designed to leverage the federal government's massive purchasing power. The goal is to obtain widely used goods and services at better prices and more efficiently.

"The expected result is more effectively managed contract spending through a balance of government-wide, agency-wide, and local contracts; reduced unnecessary contract duplication and cost avoidance; and continued achievement of small business goals and other socio­economic requirements," Weichert's memo states.

OMB directed agencies to take action in five areas.

The first is an annual plan from agencies to increase the use of best-in-class contracts for common used goods and services. The guidance calls for senior agency officials to submit a plan every October that includes details on how they will reduce spending that is not aligned to category management practices. The guidance calls for agencies to designate an official to lead category management data analytics.

Second, she directed agencies to work on developing strategies to better manage contractors, including improving pre and post-contract award communications.

Third, federal agencies should also manage how demand for goods and services are handled inside their operations to eliminate inefficient acquisition practices, she said. For example, Weichert wants agencies to coordinate buying and adopt uniform refresh cycles.

Fourth, OMB wants agencies to share data across the federal government to be more discriminating in their choices in products and services. That sharing, said the memo, should include agencies that developed best in class contracts. The "prices paid" information should be shared on the GSA’s Acquisition Gateway.

Fifth, Weichert advised agencies to train and instill category management practices in their workforce, including working with GSA's Category Management Program Management Office. The PMO, it said will collaborate with OMB, agency category managers, the Defense Acquisition University, the Federal Acquisition Institute and other civilian agency acquisition training organizations.

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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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