Govloop's acquisition forum gains traction

The forum is turning into a real meeting place for acquisition professionals to share ideas and get real-time feedback both on broad policy issues and specific projects.

The Acquisition Forum on Govloop is turning into a real place for acquisition professionals to share ideas and get real-time feedback both on broad policy issues and specific contracts people are working on. Just in the last few days, there have been a bunch of interesting posts that have elicited significant dialogue.

On Sunday at 9:41 pm (take note: a civil servant working at 10 pm a Sunday evening!) Dan Taylor, a Coast Guard program manager in charge of a program replacing a number of custom applications with commercial-off-the-shelf software, posted about his thought to share an early "concept of operations" with industry to get comments about the organization's strategy before the strategy was set in stone. He wrote that his organization wasn't used to doing that, and often it was helpful to be able to share examples from other folks who had tried. In the last two days, he's gotten back a number of responses and engaged in a dialogue with the responders. The consensus appears to be that the most important reason government folks do not currently do this -- these kinds of exchanges are explicitly permitted in the Federal Acquisition Regulation -- is a fear of generating additional workload. But people seemed to be saying that was a bad reason; the extra workload upfront will typically be more than paid for by avoiding problems down the road.

The issue of how to interact with industry early in the acquisition process seems to have traction. Just before Christmas, Mary Davie, the GSA leader who started the Acquisition Forum, also asked for more suggestions on how exactly to implement such exchanges, and got some long comments, which are really worth reading for interested blog readers.

Last week, David Dejewski, of the Defense Business Transformation Office, posted about efforts in his organization to streamline the process for acquiring non-defense IT systems, which at present generally follows the process for acquiring major weapons systems. Again, a bunch of replies came in, offering sources of information for this as well as making a number of suggestions.

I have now gotten to the point where I want to check this Forum out regularly. It may be hitting a tipping point of becoming an important way for the contracting community to communicate and learn from each other.

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