Eliminating acquisition friction

Eisenhower Executive Office Building (Image: Wikimedia Commons) 

Federal agencies have to leverage acquisition rules more creatively, but also need a cohesive platform to work from, said the White House's top acquisitions manger.

"We must understand the considerable flexibility built into our laws and regulations," said Dr. Michael Wooten, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which is housed at the Office of Management and Budget.

"Some agencies do this better than others. We have to ask ourselves why it takes some agencies seven months to purchase a particular good or service, when another agency can purchase the exact same good or service in seven weeks. Both operate under the same regulatory constraints," said Wooten in remarks at ACT IAC's acquisition excellence conference on Oct. 7.

"Ours is a vast and complex system, that, over time, has developed multiple points of friction that increasingly impede our efforts to meet mission needs," Wooten said of federal procurement.

That uneven approach, said Wooten, is what the frictionless acquisition Cross-Agency Priority goal under the President's Management Agenda looks to eliminate. The Trump administration made frictionless acquisition a CAP goal under the PMA this past summer.

The goal aims to create a management platform to leverage modern buying strategies that have been shown to achieve just-in-time delivery with improved customer satisfaction, and enable access to a broader and more innovative suite of companies and solutions.

"The frictionless acquisition CAP goal is a call to remove unnecessary actions that impede progress," said Wooten. The strategy allows agencies to work within legal acquisition guardrails, but makes working within those limitations more effective, he said. More directly, said Wooten, the plan is to "reduce the time between 'I need and I got' for federal agencies.

"This approach should reduce the burden on industry and government and it should attract new entrants," he said.

"Under the frictionless acquisition CAP goal, we call upon acquisition leaders to use modern business processes, cutting edge technologies and data gathering practices to accelerate standard and routine processes," Wooten 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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